Center for Excellence Honoree: Andri Smith


Andri Smith doesn't just want her students to learn the concepts she presents in the classroom, she wants them to own them. She works diligently to find visual and innovative methods to present complex information with the hope that students will retain the information for years to come and be able to apply it to a number of scenarios.

Smith, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized for her efforts with Quinnipiac University's most prestigious faculty honor, the Excellence in Teaching Award. She was honored at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Recreation Center on the Mount Carmel Campus.

"Professor Smith goes above and beyond to ensure that her students not only learn organic chemistry, but also have fun doing it," said senior Lauren McNickle, who completed Smith's organic chemistry course. "To help her students learn, Professor Smith uses a newer method of teaching organic chemistry, which involves using workbooks and working in groups. While using this new technique, Professor Smith has conducted research that demonstrates her students are able to learn using this method."

Tracy Hallstead, academic specialist and coordinator of the University's peer fellow program, said she has found Smith's style to be effective.

"Andri Smith has what author Susan Cain calls 'quiet fortitude.' She does not direct learning, but rather elicits it from her students, who must take an active role in the Socratic method she employs," Hallstead said. "Dr. Smith is the chemistry professor I would have wanted when I was in college."

Smith's passion for education is evident as soon as you meet her, said Kayla Gagnon, a junior nursing major. "She will go out of her way to ensure that her students not only pass, but achieve their full potential," she said. "She constantly uses student input to ensure that every class is a comfortable environment for learning. I loved having Professor Smith as a professor freshman year, and then working with her as sophomore when I was a peer fellow for her class. You could tell that she really cares about her students and she encourages us all to achieve."

Jason Mezzancello, a junior marketing major, said Smith has made a positive impact on his collegiate career. "Professor Smith created a friendly and comfortable environment that fostered a lot of cognitive growth in the class," he said. "She was certainly my favorite science professor I've had in my schooling here at Quinnipiac, as well as my high school."

Alexis Marsico, who completed Smith's chemistry class before becoming a peer fellow, said the lessons learned go beyond the classroom. "I have witnessed her touch the lives of the many students she comes in contact with," she said. "Watching them grow, learn and develop because of her knowledge and assistance reminds me of how fortunate I was to have such an inspirational professor. Through working with her, we have developed a relationship in which she has become a mentor to me, assisting me with achieving my personal goals. Her excellence inside and outside of the classroom makes her very deserving of this award and I am so grateful for having the chance to work with her."

Smith said she is she honored to be recognized at a university with so many dedicated and talented professors. "I hope that I have had a positive impact on my students' perceptions about chemistry and that I have helped my students to apply chemical principles so that they can better understand the world around them," she said. "Many of my students tell me that they are visual learners and that they appreciate having pictures to explain concepts. I include pictures whenever possible in my handouts, and I take this a step further by bringing props--including molecular models, balls, Styrofoam swim noodles, and umbrellas--to class in order to illustrate concepts."

Through her teaching methods, Smith has changed the way students learn, said Deborah Clark, professor of biology. "Dr. Smith is always looking for better ways to help students learn chemistry," she said. "She has transformed her classroom into a place to think, not just to listen."

Also being honored with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students Award are: Camille Bracale, a custodian; Leonard Engel, professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences; Heidi Erickson, senior associate director of admissions; Angela Mattie, associate professor in the Healthcare Management and Organizational Leadership department in the School of Business and Engineering, and Marion Sparago, secretary in the School of Education.

Each recipient will receive a $3,000 cash award, a Center for Excellence sculpture and their names will be carved into the stone plaque in the Arnold Bernhard Library. They will also be featured in "Quinnipiac Magazine" and attend a luncheon with President John L. Lahey in April.

Members of the University community may nominate faculty and staff for next year's awards through April 15, 2014. Learn more.

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