Boostrom named Distinguished Professor

Dennis Marshall

At the beginning of the semester, Education Professor Robert Boostrom separated his EDU 176 class into groups according to passages he wrote on the board.

This week, he asked the class if they continued to believe in those passages. Every student, aside from two individuals, agreed on a single passage because of how Boostrom taught his class.

His method of teaching may have helped him earn an award.

Boostrom will be presented the Distinguished Professor Award during graduation this Saturday. The honor includes an award, a speaking engagement and a scholarship to be given in his name.

“Dr. Boostrom is a colleague who is well-respected and celebrated over his 20-year history at USI,” said Provost Ron Rochon, who is also a professor of education.

Faculty members nominated a colleague they respected, who is distinctive and distinguished with regard to his or her teaching and scholarly record, Rochon said.

The Distinguished Professor Award is the highest honor given to a faculty member at USI. In addition to receiving the award at graduation, Boostrom will deliver the commencement speech at next fall’s graduation. He will also receive a grant to give a scholarship in his name to a first-year student.

Boostrom said he has not selected a student for the scholarship because he still needs to learn more about the criteria for the scholarship.

“I don’t know if (my choice will be) coming from a list of qualified applicants or what the procedure is,” Boostrom said. “So people shouldn’t come knocking at my door.”

This year’s distinguished professor said he feels proud when people he has taught achieve success, but he will not take credit for it.

“I am little uncomfortable in getting an award related to teaching because I don’t really believe in good teachers,” Boostrom said. “That is, if we imagine that a good teacher is someone who can teach anything to anyone in any situation under any conditions. I don’t think there are any such people and I know I’m not one of them.”

Boostrom said he believes that people make their own lives.

Teacher education is often viewed as a less worthy discipline, Boostrom said, and that doesn’t happen just in this area but all over the country.

“I hope that winning the award might make people across the university look at teacher education differently than they might have otherwise before,” Boostrom said.

Beyond being recognized by his colleagues, Boostrom also has the respect of student Whitney Hill, an elementary education major.

“He’s one of the teachers I have really been able to talk to about anything,” Hill said. “No matter what question you ask him in class, he always has the answer and he’s going to do whatever it takes to make you understand.”

Other than a boost in status and recognition of contribution, the teacher education department will go on with business as usual, said Paul Parkison, the teacher education department chair.

“He’s going to continue to do his work and contributed to the incline of our department and makes us all better,” Parkison said. “What’s impressive is he can take a 100-level class and have that kind of impact. He can also do it at a 600-level graduate class and have the same response from students.”