Rima Karami-Akkary and Issam Srour, selected from a very strong cohort of candidates, were the winners of the AUB Award for Excellence in Teaching 2014 – 15 for their outstanding dedication and achievements. The awards honor and recognize individuals who have exhibited excellence in teaching at AUB and who have guided students into venues of critical thinking and creativity in their academic fields. “By recognizing such individuals, AUB demonstrates its commitment to teaching as a scholarly endeavor, emphasizes the importance of outstanding teaching, and provides incentives for faculty members to pursue activities which could enhance their abilities as teachers,” said Provost Ahmad Dallal in his welcoming address on May 4, 2015 at West Hall’s Malhas Common Room. “Today we are honoring two colleagues who not only teach their students, but do so with passion, enthusiasm, professionalism and skill,” he added. “They have been nominated by their faculty colleagues and honored by their students.” Dallal offered his sincere thanks to the selection committee, which is composed of faculty members from each of AUB’s six faculties, as well as a student and alumnus. They remain unnamed so as not to exert undue pressure on their decision-making process. Dallal said that they, too, deserve recognition for their conscientious and hard work, and deep commitment to AUB and its values. Rima Karami-Akkary earned her BSc in chemistry in 1987, a teaching diploma in secondary science education in 1987, and a master’s of education degree in 1990, all from AUB. She then continued her education at Portland State University and earned an EdD in educational administration and supervision in 1997. In 2007, she came back from the US to join AUB as assistant professor in the Department of Education; and she was promoted to associate professor in 2014. Her research and teaching are focused on educational reform and school improvement, and she has been active locally and regionally in promoting educational reform at the school and system levels. “I am very honored and proud to bring this award to the education department for the very first time, and I would like to thank all my teachers, mentors and role models, including my mother and aunt,” said Karami-Akkary. “Teachers need to have a deep understanding of who their students are, see the best in them, offer them a safe place to learn and challenge them to induce growth.” According to her colleagues, Karami-Akkary commands respect in her class, is up-to-date, and believes in her students and strives to plant in their minds the seeds of self- development and learning, perseverance, and excellence that would carry them to a more promising tomorrow. Her students described her as somebody who was born not only to teach but to educate, adding that she fulfills her mission with ease, professionalism, elegance, passion, dedication, patience, compassion and flexibility. Students said that she always comes to class prepared with detailed lesson plans and additional resources to further students’ understanding and learning.
Issam Srour is also an AUB graduate. After earning a BE in civil and environmental engineering with distinction in 1999, he earned a master of science and a PhD in civil engineering from the University of Texas in 2001 and 2005 respectively. He joined AUB in 2008 as a visiting assistant professor and became assistant professor in 2010. He is an active researcher in engineering management and in the scholarship of teaching and learning.“I want to thank all hardworking parents like my own, who, despite being public servants, were able to put their three children though AUB, with the university’s financial assistance and Hariri Foundation grants,” said Srour. “Students remain an inspiration to us and are the reason we keep going.”Srour’s colleagues describe him as very dedicated, organized and methodological. He strives to instill in his students the passion for learning through classroom activities that are innovative, practical, challenging but attainable, and focused on developing critical thinking. His colleagues add that this is evidence of his continuing efforts to conduct research on his own teaching and learning to improve student learning and his own teaching, and they greatly appreciate his efforts to integrate the results of his own research in his courses.His students describe him as a very respectful, knowledgeable, emphatic teacher who is very well prepared for his courses, and able to integrate theory and practice. One of his students summed up his qualities by saying that the knowledge that he has in his field, and the passion with which he wants to offer it to the students, are the main reasons students actually benefit from his class. He instigates the mind to think and not to memorize just enough to pass an exam.