Professor provides a modern twist on history

October 18, 2021

Headshot of Tom Army

Tom Army, adjunct history professor, cultivates students’ minds by adding a modern twist to his curriculum. His passion for his subject and life-long learning equips students with the tools to harness change.

For his continuous efforts in innovative teaching, Army is being honored with the university’s most prestigious faculty award this year, the Center for Excellence in Teaching Award.

“I encourage my students to move out of their comfort zones and stretch their ideas and imaginations,” said Army. “I always hope to help my students harness the confidence, courage and determination necessary to work as adults for a more equitable, compassionate, safe and peaceful world."

Always looking to adapt his course, Army listens to student feedback, throwing away his notes every two years to allow for self-reflection, new ideas and creativity. He also makes an effort to get to know students as individuals and their interests outside the classroom.

"To engage students, it is important to tell stories. I tell them about where I was and how I felt after the John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy assassinations as well as 9/11,” said Army. “I tell them about learning my draft number in 1972. These stories and others bring history to life. They help make it real.”

Approaching teaching in this way, Army explains that he hopes to appeal to student interests and engage them in a subject that is too often overlooked.

“Too many students are motivated not by a genuine thirst for knowledge and challenge, but rather by an urgent hunger for a high GPA,” said Army. “This is deeply unfortunate since risk taking can unlock untapped resources for surprising innovation, fresh insight, new passion and remarkable creativity.”

Army makes an active effort to model risk-taking for his student by sharing personal anecdotes about failed risks he once took and explaining the knowledge that arose from those “failures.

“This honor is a reminder that hard work and sacrifice have their own special and unique rewards. It is incredibly gratifying to know that I am having a positive impact on my students by helping them understand the history of our nation. I am encouraged to know that my students are inspired by the call to ‘be the change,’” said Army as he reflected on the achievement.

As Army continues to embark on his teaching journey, he strives to facilitate the growth of our nation one student at a time.

"My goal is to inspire my students to reject complacency or the easy path and instead become bold agents of change,” said Army.

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