BATON ROUGE – During LSU University College’s annual “Celebration of Excellence” Spring Awards program, the Alumni Association Teaching Assistant Awards were presented to Joshua Fallon, graduate teaching assistant of the Department of Mathematics, and Vicki Davis, graduate teaching assistant of the Department of English.
The LSU University College’s Alumni Association Teaching Assistant Award is presented to a teaching assistant that has demonstrated an environment of learning in the classroom as well as inspiration.
“I find mathematics to be, like languages, a powerful tool for understanding and interacting with the world in which we live,” Fallon said. “I endeavor first and foremost to teach my students that learning mathematics is learning to reason and communicate, and learning how they reason and communicate as individuals. I want my students to see mathematics at work in all they study and do, often without realizing it, and to understand that the way their understanding of mathematics develops, from axioms and theorems to open questions, is the way they formulate an argument or justify a statement.”
Fallon anticipates his Ph.D. in mathematics from LSU in May 2018. He earned a Master of Science in mathematics from LSU, Master of Science in mathematical sciences from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., and a Bachelor of Science in mathematics with a minor in chemistry from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“Josh is a truly outstanding teacher,” said James G. Oxley, Boyd Professor, Department of Mathematics. “I enjoy sitting in his class just to witness his pedagogical expertise. His energetic presentation style is very successful at engaging the students in the lesson. He is able to skillfully draw large numbers of students into interesting discussions in which they grapple with quite challenging concepts. He repeatedly demonstrates his concern for them as individuals and, overall, does an outstanding job in the classroom. He is highly respected within the Department for his teaching skill.”
Fallon’s research interests include combinatorics, graph theory and information security. He is widely published in the field of mathematics. Fallon is a U.S. Department of Education GAANN Fellow, provided to outstanding graduate students.
“Joshua Fallon’s teaching evaluations are consistently high,” said Oxley. One particular student commented, “Seriously best professor I’ve had so far at LSU. His class is so interesting and he is always willing to help. Josh Fallon is an excellent instructor. He helped me understand things I never understood before.”
Fallon said, “I believe my instruction is at its best when I am leading my students to reflect on and articulate their understanding (and its boundaries) as they learn.”
Davis anticipates her Ph.D. in English, writing and culture from LSU in May 2017. She earned her Master of Arts in English from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tenn., Master of Science in theory and practice of teacher education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., Bachelor of Arts in English, creative writing and theatre from the University of Tennessee.
“I begin every semester by telling my students, ‘If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.’ This aphorism conveys my belief in the power of studying composition and literature as a means of learning durable, transferable ways to approach problems,” Davis said. “My teaching is rooted in metacognitive theory, employing explicit instruction, repeated practice, and continual reflection. I design my courses to help my students acquire the skills associated with course-specific objectives as well as the ability to transfer those skills to other contexts.”
Davis has presented at numerous conferences, panels and workshops, and is published in the Journal of College Writing with “Thinking about Thinking about Thinking.” She is a member of the Conference of College Composition and Communication, Council of Writing Program Administrators and National Council of Teachers of English. She has earned many honors, including the 2016 Sarah Liggett Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award and 2009 David and Jane O. Bailey Scholarship for Teacher Education.
“She displays unusual inventiveness and commitment to undergraduate teaching at LSU,” said Joseph Kronick, chair of LSU Department of English, director of Jewish Studies Program. “She has many notable accomplishments, but what stands out is her unfailing dedication to students. This is revealed in the way she has designed her courses, her philosophy of teaching, and her personal engagement with students.”
Davis’ teaching evaluations illustrate positive feedback from her students. One student commented, “Ms. Davis was very helpful with my writing assignments. When I visited her during conferences, she listened to my ideas and gave me advice on how to better my writing. She always had a smile on her face and was always positive. I could tell that she cares about her students.”
Another student noted, “I learned a lot about different perspectives in this class, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much information I’m going to be able to take out of this course. Prof. Davis did a great job and was very nice and approachable!”
University College salutes all of these deserving individuals and expresses our gratitude to donors for their continued support.
“University College is pleased to have generous donors, like Bill and Joanne Ziegler, who allow us to acknowledge some of LSU’s outstanding undergraduate faculty with teaching awards,” said R. Paul Ivey, executive director of LSU University College. “Our ‘Celebration of Excellence’ ceremony allows us the opportunity to publicly recognize these deserving faculty.”
University College awarded $80,000 through 65 undergraduate student scholarships, five LSU faculty teaching awards, two graduate teaching assistant awards and one LSU Advisor of the Year Award on Thursday, March 23, at The Club on Union Square.
University College Teaching Award Selection Committee included Marybeth Lima, chair; Marvin Borgmeyer; Sarah Clayton; Jamie Granier; Gregory D. Inman; Beverly Brooks Thompson; and Anna C. Sightler.
Since 1933, LSU University College has served as the portal of entry for students enrolled at LSU. Academic and personal success is the hallmark of a well-rounded student, and University College provides a foundation of support services for students beginning their academic careers at LSU. University College has two enrollment divisions: The Center for Freshman Year and The Center for Advising and Counseling. Additionally, University College offers retention-specific programs: Student Support Services, Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars and Summer Scholars. These academic support programs focus on particular student populations and are a significant part of the role and mission of University College.
Contact Jacquelyn Craddock
LSU University College
LSU Media Relations