Remarks by Mark Pepin
Former student of Gintaras Duda
2013 Outstanding Master's Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year
What do you get when you combine a physics professor, a subject matter consisting of science, history and sociology, and a classroom of students with a diversity of majors ranging from biology to business, theology to physics, and everything in-between?
You get the first class I took from Professor Duda, a course that studied the history of mankind’s view of the universe from Mesopotamian myth to the modern Big Bang. I also took the always-challenging quantum mechanics course from him that semester. Little did I know that these two courses, and the man who taught them, would be the foundation for my remaining three years at Creighton University as the next semester Gintaras would become my mentor and research adviser.
Upon graduating three years later, I decided to enter physics graduate school and study cosmology, inspired by Dr. Duda’s approach that, “One of the coolest things about being a cosmologist is that the universe itself is your laboratory.”
When I think about what makes the difference between an average professor, and an exceptional one, I think that the professor must challenge his students, he must be flexible, and he must go the proverbial "extra mile" to help his students succeed. Gintaras embodies all of these.
Dr. Duda did challenge us. Many Creighton physics students saw his quantum mechanics class as one of the most challenging in the major. However, I can say from experience that he pushed us to be our best, and I was more prepared in that subject for graduate school than any other. The flexibility of Professor Duda as a teacher is highlighted, I think, by the Evolution of Cosmology class I’ve already described where he was able to reach students of all types in subject matters that were not always his or her specialty.
Finally, Dr. Duda goes the “extra mile” by always pushing to find new ways to reach out and help his students learn. This is evident by his ventures into physics education research where he has used media, such as course blogs and problem-based learning, to reach out to help those students who need more than a traditional lecture.
It is now my pleasure to congratulate and introduce the man who has been my instructor and mentor, who continues to be a friend, and who is now the 2013 Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year—Dr. Gintaras Duda.
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