José Vázquez, a professor in the Liberal Studies Program who passed away last February, has been hailed by his students and fellow faculty as an extraordinary teacher devoted to his students. To keep his legacy alive, LSP created the José Vázquez Award for Teaching Excellence.
The award, originally named the Liberal Studies Excellence in Teaching Award, is given to professors who “go above and beyond in their dedication to serving students and their firm commitment to excellence in higher education.” Vázquez won the award in 2010.
Created by the Liberal Studies student government and LSP dean Fred Schwarzbach, the award was first given out in 2006.
The winners of the award are determined solely by students, who use an online survey to select worthy professors and write a few sentences about why they chose them. Any LSP professor is eligible for nomination.
Rebecah Reilly, a student activities administrator, said students have always determined the winner of the award.
“We sent out a poll, and students nominate a professor who has demonstrated excellence and who has gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Reilly said. “José loved his students, and he touched many lives in a profound way.”
An overwhelming amount of LSP faculty members support the decision to rename the award in honor of Vázquez.
“He was a first-rate scientist and devoted and talented teacher, beloved by students, faculty and staff alike,” said LSP professor Kathleen Bishop, the 2008 winner.
LSP professor Brendan Hogan said he is confident that any of his colleagues who knew Vázquez would be both humbled and honored to receive the award.
“Like José, those of his colleagues deserving of this honor don’t teach in order to receive awards,” Hogan said. “They teach as part of an intellectual mission.”
Although the award was renamed for Vázquez, LSP professor Gerceida Jones thinks that a scholarship in his name would have been a better idea.
“A scholarship in his name would be the ultimate honor since José dedicated so much of his life to the students he served, but that requires a lot of money and fundraising,” Jones said.
Nominations for the award are being accepted now through April 18 at noon.
GLS professor Rochelle Almeida said she expected it to be a competitive award because of the quality of teachers in LSP.
“I would consider it a great honor,” Almeida said. “For this award, or for any teaching award decided by the students.”
LSP sophomore Meredith Menache said the award is a good way for students to have their opinions heard, since the award does not consider faculty preferences.
“It’s not just the administration looking at the grades they give or the little survey at the end of the semester,” she said. “It’s really nice that students can show their appreciation and gratitude for their professors.”
The winner will be announced at the LSP New York Harbor Cruise on April 18.
Kevin Burns is a deputy university editor. Email him at [email protected]