Anne Marie Todd: 2015 Outstanding Professor

The Outstanding Professor Award recognizes a faculty member for overall excellence in academic assignment. This year’s winner comes from the College of Social Sciences. She will be honored at the 16th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 11, 2015. Tickets are available for purchase.

Photo: Thomas Sanders, '14 MFA Photography

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’14 MFA Photography

If ever a faculty member embodied the Department of Communication Studies’ motto, “listen, speak, engage,” it’s Anne Marie Todd, professor and associate chair of communication studies and this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award.

“We help students cultivate the skills necessary to communicate their knowledge, philosophies and values,” says Todd. “When I see a student find something that makes them feel powerful, then take those skills and become an engaged member of the public, participating in democracy, maybe influencing public opinion—that is my greatest reward.”

“Communication creates reality. I want my students to know: You can change the world—and you should.”Taking education out of the classroom and into the world is a recurring theme in Todd’s courses, which reflect a pedagogy of social engagement. She is a dedicated mentor and advisor who has chaired 16 master’s committees, served on more than 20 graduate committees across three departments and has an extensive record of publications, workshops and conference presentations. Her passion for environmental communication has inspired hundreds of students from all majors who have gone through Comm 168. Eight years ago, Todd helped develop the yearlong, team-taught seminar on global climate change in which students go out to engage with the community. “For Dr. Todd, education does not just happen in the classroom,” says communications studies alumna and teaching associate Kelly Glass. “It is something she teaches us to share beyond the walls of San Jose State.”

Although she’s a Georgia native, there is nothing slow and drawl about the way Todd speaks of her passion for student discovery and success. “I have had people tell me to slow down,” she says with a laugh, “but you can have to worst day and walk into the classroom and there is just this energy there! San Jose State students are so motivating. This summer I had a student who I had been working with for a year finally get his GPA up over 2.0,” says Todd, who does advising for probationary and disqualified students. “He sat here crying because he’s finally going to be able to get back into school. The fact that our students know what a huge difference education makes in their lives is incredible.”

Todd’s professional awards are abundant and include a recent Christine L. Oravec Research Award from the National Communication Association, the highest honor in her field of environmental communication. But it is her ability to connect with and inspire students that shines above and beyond her many other accomplishments. Says Glass, “She is the only instructor who has made me feel that I can truly make a difference.”

Allison Arbuthnot Sanders

Allison is a staff writer in San Jose State's marketing and communications department. A former food writer, she enjoys telling the stories of the people and places that power SJSU.

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