Professors honored for excellence

By Lacy Searcy

NIU students selected three professors for this year’s excellence in undergraduate teaching awards.

Mathematical sciences professor Alan Zollman, health and human sciences professor Julie Hillery and educational psychology professor Lee Shumow were all nominated by the students who have had the professors as teachers.

Alan Zollman

Zollman holds a Ph.D from Indiana University, and he began teaching middle school and high school mathematics. He moved on to the university level in 1993 and came to NIU.

“I was very happy and surprised I got the award,” Zollman said. It is nice to know your students appreciate your hard work.”

Zollman said he got nominated because he teaches math in a different way. He wants his students to understand math the way mathematicians see math, he said.

Some students, like sophomore engineering major Roy Reid, would agree that Zollman is a great teacher.

“Before I came to his class last year, I hated math,” he said. “It never made sense to me. Then this teacher came up with a theory that the only way students could understand math if they understand how math teachers think. Man it really worked. I love math now.”

Lee Shumow

Shumow has been a professor at NIU since 1995.

“I was deeply honored and overwhelmed for receiving this award,” she said. “I did not know I was going to get an award.”

One of Shumow’s biggest supporters is senior history major Adam Heenan.

“She is an excellent education teacher and she has been a mentor to me,” Heenan said. “She helped me write grants, and she is a perfect example of a role model. She was very deserving for this award.”

Shumow drives her teaching by using many examples of adolescents in her class sessions.

Julie Hillery

As a non-traditional student when she started college, Hillery gained a fervent appreciation of education while continuing to work and thrive in the apparel industry.

“I use humor, I’m in your face,” she said. “We laugh and have a good time. You build your career around something you’re passionate about. I think they saw the passion in me.”

Hillery’s excellence played a big role on NIU alumnus Donna Brennan’s career.

“Even though I haven’t been a student in the classroom for sometime, Dr. Hillery still continues to teach me,” Brennan said. “I always find myself referring to things that Dr. Hillery had taught me while I was a student.”