Samford University statistics professor Dr. Thomas W. Woolley,
Jr., is this year's recipient of the school's John H. Buchanan Award for Excellence
in Classroom Teaching.
Dr. Woolley received the honor during the fall semester opening convocation
Tuesday (AUG. 27) in Wright Center.
The award, given annually to an outstanding faculty member, carries with it
a silver tray and a $1,000 check. Finalists for the Buchanan Award were nominated
by members of the Class of 2002. Woolley, who joined the Samford School of Business
faculty in 1993, was named Alabama Professor of the Year for 2000 by the Carnegie
Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He also received the Samford School
of Business Award for Excellence in Teaching last spring, an honor voted on
by colleagues. Woolley invests generously in students, both inside and outside
the classroom, said Samford Provost Dr. Bradley Creed in presenting the award.
"Students who nominated him described his qualities as 'always available
to us,' 'door is always open,' 'enthusiasm for the topic and its application,'
and 'made learning meaningful,' among others," said Creed.
Woolley, whose students range from freshmen to seniors, identifies a common
thread throughout all levels of statistics courses: math anxiety. "Students
come in with a high level of fear," says Woolley, who devised a unique
teaching activity using M&M candies to introduce deep conceptual points
in a fun way.
"I spend a lot of time building confidence. If I can break the barrier
enough to show them that they can succeed, it all comes together for them,"
Prior to joining the Samford faculty, Woolley taught at East Tennessee State
University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he won the 1992
UAB President's Excellence in Teaching Award.
In addition to his teaching duties, he has been involved in Samford's Problem
Based Learning initiative, and has been active in university life. He was Professor
in Residence at Samford's London Study Centre during the spring, 2001 semester.
Woolley holds B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Florida State University.
He is enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies degree program at Samford's
Beeson Divinity School.
He is an active member of Cathedral Church of the Advent, where he regularly
teaches confirmation classes. He and his wife, Mary Lyn, a 1977 Samford graduate,
have two children, Drew, 14, and McKenzie, nine.
The Samford teaching award honors the late Dr. John H. Buchanan, longtime
pastor of Southside Baptist Church and Samford trustee.