Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2002-08-29

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," said Woolley.

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.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.