Lawrence Wit, associate dean for academic affairs for the College of Sciences and Mathematics, has been selected to receive one of two, 2012 Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award is a prestigious honor which recognizes those faculty members who demonstrate effective and innovative teaching methods, and a continuing commitment to student success through advising and mentoring inside and outside the classroom. The award carries a $10,000 stipend for each recipient. Emeritus senior administrators, Gerald and Emily Leischuck, established the endowment in 2005 to recognize the university’s teachers, and Auburn presented the first Leischuck Endowed Presidential Awards the same year.
An Auburn University faculty member for 37 years, Wit began his academic career at Auburn after he received his bachelor of science in zoology from Wheaton College, his master of science in zoology and physiology from Western Illinois University, and his doctorate in zoology and physiology from the University of Missouri. Wit joined the COSAM dean’s office in 1990 as interim associate dean for academic affairs and in 1992, the position became permanent. His responsibilities include coordinating COSAM’s academic programs, assisting with student organizations like the pre-pharmacy club, working closely with COSAM students and the COSAM student advisors, and teaching classes.
“I interact with students on a daily basis,” Wit said. “They come to me, and I give them advice, guidance, encouragement, assurance, and, sometimes, a kick in the pants.”
The class he is most well-known for teaching is Mammalian Physiology. For 30 years, students preparing for professional schools after graduation from Auburn have taken this required class from Wit as he educates them on the core principles of medical physiology. His teaching methods and class content have brought critical acclaim to both Auburn’s biomedical sciences students and the university’s premedical program.
“The physiology course at Auburn was more thorough and more strenuous than the physiology course in medical school,” said Wit’s former student Fleming Brooks ’89, who is now a physician. “Wit just has a tremendous approach to imparting information and picking out what’s important.”
COSAM’s pre-health professions advisor, Beverley Childress, agrees: “Interacting with Dr. Wit is an integral part of being a member of the Auburn Family I think, and especially the COSAM family. Dr. Wit has a wonderful sense of humor, and so, he is an incredibly gifted teacher. He makes his students laugh, and you remember things when you laugh and you are having a good time in the class. I have had students say (about Wit’s Mammalian Physiology class), ‘It is the most difficult class I have ever taken, but it’s also the most interesting, and we laugh, and we learn new things.’ I think they learn life-lessons as well. They don’t just learn the material in the course. Dr. Wit teaches about life and how to approach life, and he teaches them a problem-solving strategy that works for life too.”
Wit plans to retire in September 2012. For more information on Wit, visit his website.