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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Buddy Howell


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Buddy Howell, visiting assistant professor of Communication, for his passion for teaching and commitment to creating a rich and engaging learning environment for students inside and outside of the classroom.

Dr. Howell teaches a number of courses in the Department of Communication at a variety of levels with a wide range of class sizes, from the year-long first year experience course Communication Skills I and II, which usually has 20-24 students, to The Rhetorical Tradition, varying by semester from 50 to 100 students, to the large-lecture course Introduction to Communication Studies, ranging from 180-260 students. He also teaches Public Speaking and the upper-division course on Persuasion. Through a blend of lecture and discussion, Dr. Howell helps his students critically examine a variety of perspectives both theoretical and practical, from human communication in which he emphasizes the close relationships between language and thought, to communication and consciousness, symbols and reality, and the important role communication plays in fulfilling our civic responsibilities in a constitutional republic with a representative democracy. As Howell likes to explain to his students, William Butler Yeats once wrote, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." Howell seeks to create a caring and comfortable, but rigorous and respectful, learning atmosphere in which students do more than "fill their buckets" with information. He seeks to help his students process existing knowledge in ways that will spark intellectual interests that ignite their own minds to see human communication in new and important ways. As he has done so, students have responded positively and effectively to his high expectations for their learning and application of knowledge.

Dr. Howell was previously recognized by the Panhellenic Council as well as by Alpha Delta Pi for his influence on his students' lives through his teaching. He has also been nominated by his students as a Favorite Faculty three of the four years he served on faculty at Virginia Tech. Among his university, professional, and personal service activities, Howell speaks by invitation to juniors in the Corps of Cadets each fall semester on the importance of effective communication, serves as a Faculty Brother in the Beta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi as well as the advisor for the Virginia Tech chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), works as a team leader with a group of students combined from his classes each spring semester on a COMM Serves team for The BIG Event, and has spoken to 3rd graders at Christiansburg Elementary School on life in ancient Rome.

In a recent Thank a Teacher note Howell received through the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER), one of Howell’s students wrote: “It’s obvious that you care about your students on both a collective and individual level.” The student added, “You mentioned at the beginning of the semester the metaphor of education being one of two things: either a dump of information filling a bucket, or the lighting of a fire that will continue on. Your passion for your job . . . make(s) for that inspirational spark. . . . You make a difference.” Another student wrote: “Your class did not just teach me about communication and the famous philosophers, but it also taught me that in the future when I have a job, I want to give it my all, and just like you, care for others and be passionate for what I do. Like you always said: ‘Gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.’ -Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales.”


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