Macon--The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced today Dr. Andrew Silver, assistant professor of English at Mercer's College of Liberal Arts, has been named the 2003 Georgia Professor of the Year. The announcement was made at a ceremony in Washington D.C.
"Dr. Silver represents the finest Mercer has to offer. He demonstrates the University's commitment to being a teaching institution of the highest caliber," said Mercer University President R. Kirby Godsey. "All of us within the University applaud his accomplishments and his dedication to his students."
Silver has taught at Mercer since 1998. He earned his undergraduate degree in religion at George Washington University and his doctorate in English literature at Emory University. Prior to coming to Mercer, he served as a visiting assistant professor at Emory University and a dean's teaching fellow at Oxford College of Emory University.
Dr. Richard Fallis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, associate provost and interim vice president for Student Life, nominated Silver for the award.
Fallis said he couldn't be happier Silver was selected for this honor. "Dr. Silver is an engaged, sympathetic and demanding teacher and mentor," Fallis said. "He knows --and lives out-- the belief that that the teacher's responsibilities do not stop at the classroom door or the campus fence."
One example of Silver's commitment to engaging students in meaningful learning experiences outside the classroom was his creation of the documentary play Combustible/Burn, performed at Mercer's Backdoor Theatre in fall of 2001. This play was the result of an intensive project, funded by a grant from University Commons, in which four Mercer students helped him interview a total of 120 people active in the early civil rights movement in Macon. Nearly every word of the play comes directly from of these 50 interviews and research Silver and the students conducted in Mercer's Jack Tarver Library.
"We weaved what we learned in the interviews together to make a quilted narrative," he said. "It was a great learning experience for the students. They were able to apply the abstract concepts we discussed in class to the concrete theatre. They realized the power of art upon people's lives."
The New Jersey native said he enjoys teaching because it enables him to be creative and also influence the way people look at the world.
"I see students come in as freshmen and watch them transform from a relatively unthinking person to a largely involved, thinking person. To serve as a guide as students consider the great questions is a great privilege," he said.
Students say Silver has impacted them tremendously.
One Mercer student said, "Andrew Silver has forever changed my life. I came to Mercer simply looking for a degree, and now I am leaving with a burning passion for activism, a love of constant learning and a better sense that the world needs me as much as I need the world."
Silver said he thinks being named Georgia Professor of the Year is a credit to all of the faculty at Mercer.
"My colleagues here inspire me and encourage me all the time," he said. "The faculty are totally devoted to the students, and when I came here and witnessed the vitality of the professors and the incredible amount of student-directed energy, it called out my best as a teacher. I could do projects like Combustible/Burn because I was at Mercer."
Silver lives in Macon with his wife, Dr. Anya Silver, an assistant professor of English at Mercer.