2011-12 Outstanding Lecturer: Genelle Austin-Lett

2011-12 Outstanding Lecturer: Genelle Austin-Lett (photo by Christina Olivas)

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

The Outstanding Lecturer Award recognizes a lecturer for excellence in teaching effectiveness and service to the San Jose State campus community.

Genelle Austin-Lett tells her students on the first day of class that learning should be fun as well as practical. Consistently looking for new ways to draw out students’ strengths and understanding of the subject matter is what has helped her earn the 2011-2012 Outstanding Lecturer Award.

A lecturer in the Department of Communications Studies since 1991, this debate instructor uses her 43 years of teaching experience to support her students. She provides the opportunity for them to shine by giving them the tools they need to become critical thinkers, and by demonstrating the impact they make when they articulate their ideas clearly.

“Genelle equips her students with the ability to learn about any subject from any and every angle. She helps her students solve problems that seem unsolvable,” one student wrote.

“When Genelle took over as director of the forensics program, it was struggling for survival. Now it is an outstanding program with hundreds of student participants from different majors … It has become the flagship program in Northern California, providing support for local high school programs … Her book, How to Write the Perfect Ballot, has become the standard for instruction on judging, “ said one nominator.

Austin-Lett’s service to the San Jose State community goes beyond the classroom. She serves as coach and program director for her intercollegiate forensics squad, nationally and internationally. She also provides competitive opportunities for several hundred students each semester through intramural speech and debate competitions. She developed the speech judging program, which provides students with judging experience at local high schools. Austin-Lett is an active member of a number of organizations that conduct workshops on speech and debate each semester and provide students with networking opportunities.

Hopefully, each student is walking away from our time together with an increased ability to listen to all sides of an argument and reason clearly,” Austin-Lett said.

Austin-Lett earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University.