He’s known for his love of mythology and comic books, but his passion for teaching and supporting students is no illusion.
Dave Whitt, professor of communication studies, has been named the 2018-2019 Exemplary Teacher, an award presented by the United Methodist Church Division of Higher Education. The award honors a professor who exemplifies excelling in teaching, civility and concern for students and colleagues, commitment to value-centered education, and service to students, the institution, community or church.
“It takes just the right person to teach public speaking,” said one student nominator. “Dave is well organized yet flexible, creative, personable and funny. The combination creates a trust where students feel comfortable taking chances and making mistakes, knowing they will be compassionately coached and supported.”
Whitt has taught a variety of communication courses during his 27 years at NWU including public speaking, mass media, persuasion and speaking in the professions, and has served for over a decade as faculty advisor of the Wesleyan Communication Association.
Whitt is celebrated for taking his communications classes beyond the NWU classroom, creating opportunities for his students to work with Dawes Middle School students to improve their public speaking skills, and connecting his students with NWU alumni to help them experience communication studies in action.
“Dr. Whitt is an excellent professor, always reading, learning and pushing himself to adjust assignments and activities to enhance student learning,” said another award nominator.
Beyond the classroom, Whitt volunteers his time to help student speakers prepare for large events. In 2015, Whitt collaborated with his colleague, Karla Jensen, to give a TEDx talk titled, “Happiness is Serious Business.” Whitt spent the following year as a volunteer coach for speakers in the community.
“It is easy to see and hear how deeply he cares about each of his students,” said another nominator. “His door is always wide open.”