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SEAS Teachers Honored
Three SEAS faculty members were honored for their excellence in
undergraduate teaching in recent ceremonies. John Kender, Associate
Professor of Computer Science, and W. Michael Lai, Department Chair
and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Orthopaedic
Surgery received the Alumni Association's Distinguished Faculty
Teaching Award at Class Day.
Prof. Kender's students praise his witty teaching style, creativity
and ability "to navigate the ambiguous and unstructured field
of visual interfaces with elegance." Said one, "Only in
his class have I been able to show homework to my non-engineering
friends and impress them and be free of being called a nerd."
Prof. Lai's teaching skills were summed up by a student who said,
"He is truly the epitome of a great teacher." His students
praised his abilities to convey conceptual as well as analytical
topics with clarity and organization; to care about how well each
student learns; and to transmit his love of the subject.
Raimondo Betti, associate professor of civil engineering and engineering
mechanics, received the Society of Columbia Graduates' Great Teacher
Award and the Kim Award for Faculty Involvement. On Class Day, Prof.
Betti became the first recipient of the Kim Award, given for "his
marked commitment to students by being accessible, by participating
in student events, and by providing excellent advising."
A former recipient of the Alumni Association award, Dr. Betti was
honored in October by the Society of Columbia Graduates with its
Great Teacher Award. For Prof. Betti, teaching is a mission that
goes beyond the classroom. "A good teacher must be demanding
and require that students master certain principles," he said,
"but this must be tempered with patience and, above all, an
availability to help, to answer questions or simply to discuss any
matter with students. This relationship becomes a fundamental part
of everyday life for a teacher."