John White Faculty photo

John A. White, Jr., distinguished professor in the College of Engineering and former University of Arkansas Chancellor, was the keynote speaker at the Baum Teaching Workshop for 2018. Each keynote speaker is the winner of the Nadine and Charles Baum Faculty Teaching Award, sponsored by the Alumni Association and the Charles and Nadine Baum Foundation. This award is to recognize full, university or distinguished professors for outstanding teaching. 

Dr. White’s accomplishments both inside and outside of the classroom made him ideal candidate for the Baum Teaching Award. As Dr. Mary Savin notes,

“He is a distinguished professor, fellow of 3 engineering societies, served 2 terms on the National Science Board, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, served on multiple corporate board of directors and consulted for numerous companies, and founded a logistics consulting firm. Dr. White has co-authored 6 text books, was the Editor of the Production Handbook and contributor to 6 handbooks, 2 encyclopedias, and 3 books, and has authored or co-authored hundreds of papers in journals, trade magazines, and conference proceedings. He has received numerous national and international recognitions for his teaching, research and service, including awards such as the NSF Distinguished Service Award, the ASEE National Teaching Engineering Economy Teaching Excellence Award, and the IISE Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award.”

And while his awards are impressive, it is his reputation among his colleagues and students that really make Dr. White stand out. Dr. Tish Pohl explains that

“it is inside the classroom where Dr. White really shines as a teacher. He is well-known as a gifted speaker, which certainly enthralls the students, but it is the genuine love and care that he shows them that sets him apart from any professor I have known. He makes it a point to learn all of their names and show a personal interest in their lives. The fact that he cares about them is obvious to all. Students in his leadership class describe the class as “life changing.” He spends many hours each week grading student writing assignments, giving detailed feedback on content and grammar, and insisting that students delve deeply into their own value systems and evaluate their individual strengths and weaknesses. They have told me that despite the lineup of illustrious leaders who come to speak throughout the semester, they learn the most from, and are most inspired by, our very own John White.”

In his presentation, “55 Year Love Affair Revelations,” White cataloged his teaching journey and shared some tips he learned along the way.

One of the most important things you can do when you start class, according to Dr. White, is to SMILE!  If you start your class with a smile, you are setting the tone and the students notice! In addition, Dr. White shared his “Dozen Keys to ‘A’ s in Teaching.”


Dozen Keys to “A”s in Teaching

  • Students recognize your attitude. If you are passionate and positive when you teach, they will recognize this. 
  • “Which is worse, ignorance or indifference?”
  • What do you want your students to accomplish or achieve?
  • Dream big for your students! Give them high goals and expectations to meet.  They will often rise to them.
  • Be available to your students. 
  • Little things mean a lot to your students; learn their names, learn things about them.
  • Return graded work promptly
  • Allocate the proper time to prepare. 
  • “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”
  • And remember, busy is NOT productive.
  • Be the best teacher you can be!
  • Question: “If everyone misses a question, whose fault is it?” Answer: Mine!
  • Be YOU!  Do not try to copy someone else, the best thing you can do is develop what works for you in the classroom.
  • Be authentic.
  • Students need to know that you care. They need to know that you think they matter.  Let them know!
  • This is why we are here.
  • Let them know that they are not their grades.  They are their own person.
  • Anticipation of something is often better that the project.
  • Be excited!
  • You need to be aware both of yourself and your students.
  • Ask students what the most important thing is that they learned today.
  • Ask them what they would like to talk about in the next class.
  • Do you notice that students are not in class?  Email them.  Let them know that you notice.
  • Focus on “emotional intelligence”
  • Pay attention to students and get feedback!
  • “Feedback is the breakfast of champions!”
  • You need to adjust if necessary.  If something is not working, change!
  • Change often!
  • Ask for feedback throughout the course, not just at the end.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude!
  • We all have different abilities. Do what you can when you can.
  • You can do it if you think you can do it!

It all goes back to attitude!  SMILE!

You can view Dr. White’s presentation here: 55-Year Love Affair Revelations Presentation