Psychology department chair Dr. Stephen L. Chew has received this year's John H. Buchanan Award for Teaching Excellence at Samford University. The six-year Samford faculty veteran was presented a silver tray and $1,000 check at the school's semester-opening convocation Tuesday, Aug. 31.
In making the presentation, Samford Provost James Netherton called Chew the "quintessential scholar-teacher."
"Although a productive researcher, this professor's best efforts are reserved for students," said Netherton, quoting one student nominator who wrote that "'Professor Chew wants all of his students to succeed. No matter how busy he is, he always makes time to answer questions and help students when they are struggling. Though his classes are not easy, they are always fair.'"
Each year's Buchanan honoree is chosen on the basis of nominations from the last spring's senior class.
Since joining the faculty in 1993, Chew has encouraged student research, shepherding Samford participation in the National Council for Undergraduate Research conference. He has seen Samford involvement grow from one student presenter three years ago, to five students when he drove a school van to Schenectady, N.Y. in 1998, to 43 students and seven faculty members who flew to Rochester, N.Y. this spring.
Such programs in which students present juried research papers to audiences of academic peers are worth the effort, said Chew. "It is a way to reward the highest achieving students, and is an acknowledgement the school makes that these students are valued.
"Also, for the students, it is important that they compare their presentations with those of other presenters, and come away knowing that they are as good or better."
Chew's own research interests lie in studying cognitive and perceptual processes as they function in a real world context. His work has led to study of how musicians perceive, recall and perform musical themes, how expert blind travelers prepare to cross traffic intersections, and the accuracy of eyewitness accounts and the occurrence of false recollections.
He was one of six psychologists nationwide chosen as a 1998-99 Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Learning. As such, he has made presentations at American Association of Higher Education meetings and will present a keynote address at a Leadership Institute sponsored by the University of Wisconsin System in October.
A native of Dallas, Tex., Chew earned a B.A. in psychology with highest honors at the University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology at the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the Samford faculty, he was assistant professor and department chair at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., during 1984-93.