Dr. Monica McCoy has long been dubbed one of the coolest professors on the Converse campus, but that unofficial title has just been trumped by the real deal. Singled out as one of the most outstanding undergraduate professors in the country, Dr. McCoy was distinguished today as the CASE 2010 South Carolina Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. McCoy is in Washington this week where she will be presented with the award on Thursday, November 18.
A charismatic red-head with a fierce devotion to the students she teaches, Dr. McCoy is the Chair of the Converse Department of Psychology and a leading expert in the field of child abuse and neglect. An advocate for service learning, Dr. McCoy’s students fully expect to get real-world experience when taking her classes. In fact, this hands-on component of the curriculum is praised by her students as one of the most valuable parts of their coursework. In 2008, Dr. McCoy was honored with a “Friends of the Children” award by the Spartanburg Children’s Shelter for her commitment to encouraging students to take on volunteer roles at the Shelter.
More than a teacher, McCoy is lauded by her colleagues as a mentor and a role model, and tireless in her efforts to ensure that her students succeed long after they graduate. “Monica is a change-agent on our campus, a teacher who goes to great lengths to nurture in students a deep understanding of their ability to effect positive change in the world. As a role model, researcher and teacher, Monica has a way of raising students’ expectations of themselves. Their lives are somehow forever changed for the better as she pushes them to be their best selves,” says Converse President Dr. Betsy Fleming.
Asked about the fancy plaque from Washington that will soon hang in her office, McCoy is quick to deflect the honor with a humorous quip that speaks volumes about her character in the classroom, (“Finally, I can prove to my students how lucky they are to have me as a professor!”). As for the ever-increasing popularity of the Converse psychology department, McCoy maintains, “we can’t take all of the credit for having a popular major. Psychology is intrinsically interesting to most people. After all, we get to study what makes people behave the way they do. It isn’t too difficult to convince students that many of the topics we cover – from aggression to psychological disorders to attraction to conformity to sex – are fun things to think about! I also think it helps that we have a great group of faculty.”
The criteria for the CASE Professor of the Year is based on extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching, demonstrated by excellence in the following areas: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contribution to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current former undergraduate students.
This outstanding accomplishment says Dr. Jeffrey Barker, the Dean of Academics at Converse is a tribute to both Dr. McCoy and to Converse. “Dr. McCoy is a truly superior professor, one who is best described as exemplary—a role model for students and peers alike. At the heart of everything she does is a drive to serve her students, both in and out of the classroom.” This is the second time in the past four years that an exemplary member of the Converse faculty has been named a CASE South Carolina Professor of the Year. Dr. Melissa Walker, the George Dean Johnson, Jr. Professor of History received the same recognition in 2007.