He is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, amusing, respectful and he cares, say students of ATLAS Institute Instructor Christopher Carruth, who earlier this week was awarded a 2018 Marinus Smith Award for outstanding teaching.
Carruth, who currently teaches two courses—Meaning of Information Technology and Advanced Image—for the Technology, Arts and Media program is characteristically deprecating about the honor: “The young women and men I have the pleasure of interacting with never fail to amaze me,” he says. “They make me a better person. I am honored to share in this part of their journey.”
When she was a student, Jessica Masson took three of Carruth’s classes and completed an independent study under his supervision. “You feel like he cares about you as both a student and a person. He exudes an enthusiasm for teaching and empowering students,” says Masson, who is now an OIT technical support analyst for CU Boulder.
When she first enrolled in the TAM program, Masson felt like her academic life and personal goals were at a standstill, and taking Meaning of Information Technology shifted her perspective completely. “Chris cared about each of our voices and rekindled my love of education and poetry,” she says. “He taught me that my dreams weren’t naïve; I could do anything I set my mind to.”
Several nominations spoke to Carruth’s dedication: “I really appreciate that he engaged with me on a personal level,” writes one woman. “We would write weekly responses on Edmodo, and he read each and every one, week in and week out, for over a hundred students. That level of dedication is amazing to me, and that's why I am nominating him.”
The same individual wrote, “I left every class feeling inspired. This is the first class I have ever taken where I didn't just learn the bare minimum to get a good grade. I spent my free time reading the rest of books where he would pull a few pages for us to read, and I followed all of the links he gave us to view the full articles, because I always left class wanting to go learn more.”
Other nominators describe how they were similarly drawn in: “I have never had a teacher so talented at presenting ideas, engaging his students, and getting his students excited about the topic.”Another nomination reads, “Chris was the most forward/real/compassionate/ smooth/well-spoken professor I have ever had. His kind words and charismatic personality made the learning environment something we as students wish every class was like.
The teaching award is named after Marinus Smith, a 19th century Boulder resident whose significant contributions of land and money made it possible for the university to locate close to the base of the Flatirons in Boulder.
Criteria for the student-nominated award state, nominees must advance the quality of education or the student experience at CU Boulder; model the integrity and ethical conduct expected of CU Boulder students; demonstrate a high degree of respect for the contribution of every member of the CU Boulder community; benefit the CU Boulder community by demonstrating excellence in their service and fostering a campus environment of inclusion, collaboration and personal responsibility.
TAM Director Matt Bethancourt commented on the recognition saying, “This honor is well-deserved. Students rave to me about their experience with Chris in MIT. He’s a fantastic instructor, and we are lucky to have him on our team.”