GW Brief: GW professor receives top honors for teaching undergraduates

Richard P. Tollo, a geology professor, was named the District’s best professor last month for his success in teaching undergraduate students.

“It is really gratifying,” Tollo said. “I really have no idea why I was recognized.”

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education have been sponsoring the award since 1981 as a way to recognize undergraduate professors across the country. Seven GW professors have received the award.

“Tollo is one of the finest undergraduate professors . He’s tailored his research to undergraduate students,” said George Stevens, a geology professor who has worked with Tollo for more than 20 years. They first met when Tollo joined the department in 1983.

Stevens said that while most geology professors try to travel to exotic places to do their research, Tollo has made a point of staying local. Most of his research is about the Appalachians in Virginia, and he encourages students to also do field work in the area.

Tollo said professors can become better teachers by doing research.

“My research background has been very helpful in making me a good professor,” he said.

He added, “(Research) helps you make a career and stay excited about what you do. You can incorporate the research into your classroom – and that makes for a very exciting atmosphere.”

This is the third year in a row that a GW professor has been given this award. Last year, Elizabeth Chacko, a geography and international affairs professor, won the award. In 2005, Matthew O’Gara, an international affairs professor, was recognized as the top professor in the District.

Tollo said that these awards are a reflection of not just the abilities of the teacher, but also of the University.

“GW had changed a lot over the last decade,” Tollo said. “There is much more of a focus on teaching . (These awards) shows the upward movement of the school with good education and strong research focus.”

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