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Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Paul Pittman

Frederic Bachman Lieber Memorial Award -- Founders Day 2007

Professor of Business Administration
School of Business
Indiana University Southeast
Appointed to IU faculty, 1992
B.S., Eastern Illinois University, 1982
M.B.A., Eastern Illinois University, 1983
Ph.D., University of Georgia, 1994

Paul Pittman's strengths as a teacher at IU Southeast's School of Business have been likened to a successful college basketball team—a combination of talent, preparation, and style.

"Talent surely is one of Paul Pittman's strengths as a teacher, but let's not forget the way he practices and the culture of teaching of which he is an active member," says Carl deGraaf, former director of the Institute for Teaching & Learning Excellence and former dean of the IU Southeast School of Education. "I encourage you to look at his game and remember that he got this way from a great deal of hard work in practice and from a strong commitment to the culture of excellence in teaching."

In essence, Pittman brings that "something more" to his court, the classroom. His peers and students alike share this sentiment when describing the impact of his enthusiasm, professionalism, and challenging class work. "Paul Pittman's contributions to students go beyond the classroom. His difference is the long-lasting impact on the student as an individual living in society," says Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair of Business and dean of the IU Southeast School of Business from 1998-2006. "I've had students over the years convey to me directly that his courses, material, inspiration, and approach have positively impacted how they see themselves as individuals."

The majority of Pittman's students take his Operations Management course, something many students enter apprehensively due to the difficult subject matter. Says one former student, Heather Whipple: "Although I performed abominably on your exams, please know that I do feel I learned a great deal from the class. . . . I appreciate your kindness toward me and also appreciate the real wake-up call you provided to me for the work I must do over the next few years."

It's his enthusiastic and innovative "Socratic" teaching method that makes Pittman's classes approachable and even enjoyable for his students. With this approach, series of questions are used (based on student responses) to guide students toward the correct answer rather than simply presenting one. Pittman believes that this works because it not only adapts to individual learning styles, it helps facilitate and guide classroom discussion.

In fact, many students leave Pittman's class with only the regret that they cannot take another one. "Even though I have my degree completed, I would still pay, out of pocket, to enroll as an auditee—but only if Paul were teaching," says Kevin Hitchcock, who took two of Pittman's M.B.A. courses. "Paul has a remarkable ability to connect text material to current, relevant, and practical phenomena." Woody Woodward, another former graduate student, further states, "I can't get over the fact that the course was so relevant to almost every aspect of my personal and professional life, and yet, I didn't even know it existed four months ago! I jokingly tell everyone that it's just my luck that the most intriguing and useful course of my entire academic career happened to be the last one I took."

Chancellor of IU Southeast Sandra R. Patterson-Randles praises Pittman's record of achievement both on campus and beyond, saying that Pittman "fulfills the continuing role of teacher, guide, colleague, and friend for his fellow faculty members and students. I have learned to respect and admire Paul's abilities as a teacher not only in the classroom, but also in the community and in his profession."

Pittman's talents and teaching excellence have been acknowledged by the IU community with his Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) membership, an honor given to only one percent of faculty each year; a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006; a Trustees Teaching Award for 2001, 2005, and 2006; a Teaching Excellence Recognition Award for the years 1997-2000; a Business Excellence in Teaching Award (1999 and 2003); and a Faculty Excellence Award for four different years.

Jonathan Rakich, professor of management at IU Southeast and distinguished professor emeritus of the University of Akron, summarizes it best when saying, "In my view, Paul Pittman is without question a university teacher extraordinaire. Over my 40-year university teaching career, I can count on one hand colleagues whom I would classify as truly outstanding and distinguished teachers. Paul Pittman is one of them and has clearly found his calling. He loves to teach—it is his passion and he excels at it. He promotes this love to his students who embrace his carefully constructed classroom activities to outcome learning. His pedagogy in both his undergraduate and graduate courses results in students being active participants in the learning process."