Rosenbaum named a Carnegie ‘Professor of the Year’

Nov 20th, 2008 | By | Category: Campus News, November 20, 2008

David Rosenbaum enjoys teaching. He delights in the way students become engaged in their learning, and he marvels at watching them become excited about new ideas.

“To me teaching boils down to a very thoughtful process of how you get students engaged in the learning process, and everything I do is geared toward getting students engaged,” said Rosenbaum, a professor of economics.

Rosenbaum’s enthusiasm is infectious and is getting results. And the educator who’s earned numerous teaching awards at the campus level now is getting statewide and national recognition as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching “U.S. Professors of the Year” winner for Nebraska. Announced Nov. 20 by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Rosenbaum is being honored in Washington, D.C., with the other state winners at a reception at Folger Shakespeare Library Exhibition Hall.

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David Rosenbaum

Rosenbaum is associate director of academic affairs in the Raikes School in Computer Science and Management, and a professor of economics in the College of Business Administration. He’s been a professor at UNL since 1985. He’s a winner of the CBA Distinguished Teaching Award, the Outstanding Economics Teacher of the Year from Omicron Delta Upsilon, the recognition certificate for Contributions to Students from the Parents Association and the UNL Teaching Council.

Teaching, he said, is something that he has grown to be passionate about because of the enjoyment he gets in finding new ways to help students learn.

“I don’t think I knew I wanted to be a professor,” he said, “but yes, something inside me very early on wanted to be a college professor. I’ve been at UNL for little over 23 years now, and the first 15 I spent doing three things: research, graduate education and undergraduate education, all in economics.” His research interests have been industrial organization, how governments intervene to make them work better, whether self-regulation works in the financial markets now, and the application of markets to legal questions.

The first part of his career he specialized in teaching students in really large sections – 200 at a time – where he said it’s very easy for students in a class to become lost or completely uninvolved. Much of his effort in those large sections really went in to developing processes to keep students involved in a class that big.

“We did things like pair off, the students were assigned a partner, and I’d lecture for 50 minutes and then give them an exercise to make them think about it right now, so if you don’t understand it or if that partnership doesn’t understand it, they get the pair next to you to work with,” Rosenbaum said. “Get the students involved, that’s where they really learn.”

Rosenbaum also has enjoyed his work helping lead the development of the original J.D. Edwards Honors Program, now the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management. He said the program’s intent was to meet the needs of businesses who needed employees who understand how to design computer programs and also understand business. They combined this dual goal with leadership and professional development to create a unique program.

“It’s about being able to communicate well, being able to work with teams, to lead teams, interact with customers, clients and your own employees; it’s about leadership and about project management,” he said. “We really wanted to design a curriculum and an honors program that put all of these together, that is the start of what we now call the Raikes School.”

Rosenbaum now teaches mainly the freshmen and the seniors, in basic economic principles, basic finance principles, international trade and macroeconomics. His students learn how business works, why customers are buying their products, costs, competing in the market, evaluating how to value projects that have a cash flow over time and how companies interact in a global economic market.

Mentorship is also part of his role as a professor.

“Mentorship is that vague word that everybody likes to talk about but nobody really knows what it means,” he joked, “but to me it’s being there to listen to them and advise them on things that are important to the students. ‘Should I be in college or not?’ ‘What should I have as my major?’ I listen carefully and help them think about how they want to mature and where they want to go with their lives.”

After 23 years, love of teaching continues to be his motivation.

“I guess I just really like teaching,” he said. “I’m motivated by the energy that my students exude when they get in the classroom and they’re really discovering new things and enjoying themselves. It’s exciting.

“You have to be a good explainer, you have to think about the material enough and pare it down to its basics and be able to build it back up in a very methodical understandable way for students and I think you have to put in the commitment and the time to do a good job.”

Rosenbaum said he’s humbled by the honor and proud to have been nominated by CBA Dean Cynthia Milligan. But he’s eager to share to spotlight.

“This is a really important award for this university,” he said. “It says that UNL is not only committed to being a first-rate research institution but it’s committed to providing first-rate teaching of undergraduate students as well. And I’m just glad that both the dean, the chancellor and my department chair have been willing to allow me to engage in undergraduate education that has really brought notoriety to the university and I’m just the beneficiary of that.”

And the students are as well.

“I’m very happy and fortunate but I think it’s reflective of the good teaching that goes on all over campus,” Rosenbaum said.

— Story by Kelly Bartling, University Communications; photos by Craig Chandler/University Communications

Audio interview with David Rosenbaum . . .


David Rosenbaum – In Their Words

“David Rosenbaum is a remarkably innovative teacher. His high-energy teaching and natural interest in students creates a learning environment in which students excel. Over the past 24 years, he has many teaching awards, including 10 while teaching large lecture sections in economics. In his role as curriculum director for the Raikes School, David has transcended the traditional silos of education to create a unique learning experience for developing future leaders. His curriculum is a model for integrated education that is being studied across campus. Graduates from this program are starting their own businesses and working for some of the biggest names in technology.”

— Cynthia Milligan, dean of CBA

“Dr. Rosenbaum has been a great adviser to me throughout my years at UNL. He has been a mentor to many students.”

— Kyle Deterding, Wichita, Kan., Math and Computer Science major

“Dr. Rosenbaum’s courses have been challenging and rewarding to me. I have great respect for Dr. Rosenbaum’s commitment to teaching in the classroom.”

— Trevor Thompson, Bennington, Neb., Computer Science major

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