Stephen L. Chew - Student Introduction

Remarks by Amy C. Fineburg
Former student of Stephen L. Chew
2011 Outstanding Master's Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year

Next year will mark 20 years that I have known and worked with Steve Chew. When I was a junior in college, Dr. Chew came to Samford as chair of the psychology department. At that time, there were only two faculty in the department—one a Freudian, one a behaviorist. For those outside the psychology community, this would be like mixing matter with antimatter—the only good result you can hope for is that the world ends with a whimper instead of a bang. Steve slid right into that tense environment and revolutionized how psychology was taught and how students were prepared. He opened doors for his students, helping them prepare for the wide range of careers that a psychology major can provide, and he did it with a smile, an easygoing way and an extremely messy desk.

I was almost finished with my program when Steve arrived, but I was excited to get another perspective on psychology and teaching. I audited his class in cognition (because I didn’t need it to graduate), and I was blown away. Steve had a casual, but scholarly approach to teaching that was unlike what I had before. I participated in more demonstrations and activities in his class than I had in any other class. He engaged us. He challenged us, and he entertained us.

When I became a high school psychology teacher two short years later, I found myself asking the critical first-year teacher question, “What the heck am I doing?!?” When I calmed down, I thought about the excellent teachers I had as a student, and I decided to mimic their styles as a way to shape my own. The first teacher to come to my mind was Steve and his engaging style. So I copied him, giving my students memory tasks and quick surveys. I analyzed results and discussed instead of lectured. And, doggone, it worked!

Now, in high schools, the psychology teacher is a lonely soul. Often, there is only one psychology teacher in a school, leaving little opportunity for collaboration or professional development. When I wanted to start up a workshop to bring together psychology teachers to share and collaborate, I immediately called Steve to help. And ever since then, I’ve been calling Steve whenever I needed someone to bounce ideas with or to work on a major project.

Great teachers are role models. Great teachers are mentors. Steve Chew has been my role model and my mentor for 20 years. And I can’t imagine going through the next 20 years without knowing he’s a phone call away. The best part of all this is that now you all recognize what an excellent teacher Steve is. Honored guests, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year: Stephen L. Chew.