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Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Marty E. Zusman

Sylvia E. Bowman Award -- Founders Day 2007

Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Indiana University Northwest
Appointed to IU faculty, 1971
B.A., Indiana University Bloomington, 1967
M.A., Indiana University Bloomington, 1970
Ph.D., Indiana University Bloomington, 1973

As chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at IU Northwest, Charles Gallmeier looks back at his undergraduate days at IPFW and credits his sociology professor, Marty Zusman, with setting his career path in motion. "He brought an enthusiasm into the classroom that was infectious, capturing the students' imaginations and riveting them to the subject matter," says Gallmeier. "He has served as an inspiration and mentor for my own teaching success."

It is Zusman's intellectual curiosity and innovative techniques—combined with his love of teaching—that have inspired students throughout the years. Zusman taught at IFPW for five years and later joined the sociology faculty at IU Northwest, where he has taught for 27 years and served for 15 years as chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

One student who found a class challenging explains the support he received: "I had Professor Zusman for statistics (not an easy subject), and I continued to struggle in this class pretty much throughout the semester. His patience and commitment to the individual student gave me the courage to stay the course and renewed my faith in teachers who not only care but also who truly make a difference. Because of Professor Zusman, I not only 'think I can,' I know I can!"

When Zusman realized that most of his students read current fiction, but not the required textbook for his class, he co-authored a sociology book in the form of a novel, The Dancer's Gift: An Introductory Sociology Novel. The book has since been used at several universities and high schools, both in America and abroad.

"My teaching philosophy is intended not only to explain the discipline of sociology, but also to excite an interest in the sociological perspective throughout their lives," says Zusman. "From the moment I began teaching over 30 years ago, I have been committed to four goals: evaluation of instruction, the utilization of sociological insights to the local community, involving students in actual scientific research, and teaching innovation."

Those goals have been manifested in tangible ways. At IU Northwest, Zusman was instrumental in developing a system for students to evaluate faculty in arts and sciences classes, and he worked to create an internship program for sociology students and to start a sociology club on campus. His support of students who wish to pursue graduate work and advanced research has led several IU Northwest students to be published in the College Student Journal and to present their papers at professional meetings.

Zusman's commitment to innovation is clear in the way he constantly adds new elements to his courses and interactions with students. In his Martial Relations and Sexuality class, for example, his students recently researched sexually transmitted disease and incest in marital settings, then heard from a panel of incest victims and married couples with sexual disease.

He has been nominated frequently for Who's Who Among America's Teachers. He received the Teaching Excellence Recognition Award in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2000; the Center in Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Trustee Teaching Award in 2004 and 2006; and the Indiana University Northwest Founders Day Teaching Award in 2005-06. He chaired nine university committees, including the Graduate Program Committee and Alcohol Task Force Research Advisory Committee, and was a member of more than a dozen other committees.

Zusman is always seeking to improve his teaching methods. He once asked his colleague Jean V. Poulard, a professor of political science, to sit in on one of his classes and evaluate his performance. "I did it out of collegiality and friendship, and [then] I had a hard time tearing myself away from his class before the end of his lecture. I wanted to hear more!" says Poulard. "He is a great asset to IU Northwest."

This year, Zusman will take a sabbatical to research and develop a deeper understanding of what current college students are like, analyzing their sociological and social psychological characteristics in light of their levels of anxiety, motivation, self-concept, commitment to a goal, commitment to learning, and willingness to make sacrifices to assure academic success, among other factors.

As Professor Zusman's former student and now his colleague, Gallmeier sums up his mentor's gifts: "Quite frankly, Marty is simply the best teacher of sociology I know. He sees teaching as a passion and calling."