Utah State University Carnegie Professors
1998 - Sonia Manuel-Dupont
Certainly a few university students have bolted upright in the middle of the night with anxiety about next-day assignments - a final exam, that research paper, a class presentation. But most professors beat that affliction by the time they get their own classroom. They've paid their late-night dues, and their reward now is uninterrupted slumber.
Utah State University professor Sonia Manuel-Dupont, however, doesn't seem to have much time for sleep. Her teaching course load is enormous; her administrative demands are heavy, and her writing-class sizes border on heresy. And planning? When does she find time to plan?
"I wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas - about a group project or a lesson setup or something else," she said. "I sometimes spend hours at night thinking about putting myself in the place of students and asking, 'What would make me want to learn this idea?'"
Teaching is tough, Manuel-Dupont said, and there's no profound reason why she spends so many hours and so much effort on making her classes always challenging, always unique and always focused. The reason in her mind is simple: that's her job - today and every day.
"It's what I am," she said, explaining that teaching, although it can seem all consuming at times, offers one fulfilling surprise after another. She has taught for more than 25 years now and hasn't yet tired of the profession. In fact, she loves the game so much that she envisions herself as an 85-year-old emeritus fighting to keep administrators from prying the chalk from her hands.
Manuel-Dupont has appointments in three different departments - Communicative Disorders, English, and Civil and Environmental Engineering - and any of the three would be happy to have her on board full time in their department only.
"They are three completely different experiences," she said. "I wear a different hat for each class."
Her teaching evaluations are consistently among the highest, and her faculty peers submitted glowing assessments of her work to the competition judges.
Christine Hult, associate dean in the College of HASS, wrote that Manuel-Dupont is "the most dedicated, selfless, committed, and gifted teacher I have ever had the privilege to work with."