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The Communicator

Dean's Message

Old-school success and a high-quality approach

As thousands of Bellisario College students over the years can attest: Associate Teaching Professor Steve Manuel is no pushover.

“Old school” is sometimes I descriptor I’ve heard students use — referring to his expectations of students during his large lecture classes. No cell phone use in class (gasp!). No side conversations. Know your current events. And expect that grammar and AP style errors will result in severe grade penalties.

And if you’re in his crisis communications class?

Well, you might become so unnerved during the famous “Hot Seat” exercise that you faint or throw up. (It’s rare.)

But, like the students and alumni quoted in the story about Steve in the newest Communicator, I have observed that Steve’s “old-school” teaching methods, alongside a deep commitment to his students and to integrity in the professions, produce a powerful result: Ethically grounded, well-prepared, confident graduates.

One student said of him: “I truly felt that he wants his students to succeed and is willing to help them in any way he can. He has a strong passion for PR, and I encourages me to learn more and be the best that I can.”

The student added: “He truly cares about each of his students – not just in the classroom, but outside of it as well.”

Content-area expertise, high expectations, and a commitment to students. It is the Bellisario College formula for classroom success, and Steve is the embodiment of it.

The story about Steve, and another one in this issue – a remembrance of Curt Chandler – provide tip-of-the-iceberg evidence of that formula at work. Curt, a beloved teacher who brought decades of professional experience, had high standards for his students. But he set them in a context of commitment to their well-being and growth.

Students respond to that. As one said about Curt: “I have so much respect and admiration … I only can strive to be just like him as I grow in my field and in life.”

It’s no accident that high-quality teaching (and advising) is a hallmark of the Bellisario College. It is engrained in our culture. We understand that effective teaching requires focused attention.

In 2020, Associate Dean Denise Bortree (herself an award-winning professor) started a new tradition: “Teaching Tuesdays.” Each Tuesday, a faculty member shares a “best practice” in classroom management, the use of technology, grading, or any number of other teaching-related issues. I read it with interest each week, and it gives us a chance to collectively keep focused on the reason we’re here.

It’s an inspiration, as I hope are the stories in this edition of our magazine. As a friend or alumnus, I hope you’re inspired and #BellisarioProud.

Thank you for your support.

I hope to see you soon,

Marie Hardin