Gifford Recipient of Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award

Gifford Recipient of Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award

December 10, 2021 |

A quality of an excellent instructor is the ability to make students understand complex subjects.

That’s just one of the traits that East Central College’s Matthew Gifford, instructor of philosophy and religion, exhibits in his classroom.

Gifford recently received the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award for his accomplishments and dedication to his students and the teaching profession.

“As a faculty member, he is a beacon of what our College mission defines in and outside the classroom,” wrote one ECC employee who nominated Gifford for the award. “Since his time as an adjunct instructor for ECC, Matthew has always been student driven.

“If one has the opportunity to observe him in his classroom, they will see a classroom full of activity; a classroom full of critical thinking, dismantling, and questioning prior knowledge — One will see students engaged and actively participating.”

A former student stated that Gifford will take the time to ensure the entire class understands complicated concepts.

“He is phenomenal at breaking down a dense concept and making it easy to understand. He is also very willing to go over a concept in as many ways, and as many times, and he needs to for the whole class to grasp it,” the students said.

“It is easy to see that he wants his students to succeed, not only in his classes, but in life.”

In addition, Gifford asks students to build and evolve their own definitions of concepts and come to their own conclusions on the content.

“His classroom is one that transports students to the hallowed halls of Greek philosophy and ancient religious texts and forces our students to see the relevance of the questions asked,” a colleague said about Gifford. “In doing so he is also equipping our students to question the realities of their present and their own academic pathways.”

Outside the classroom, he has held annual food drives to support local food banks that serve both Rolla and Union students. He has sponsored and participated in student clubs, seeking to better their understanding of overall personal safety.

The Excellence in Teaching Awards program began in St. Louis in 1989 and is sponsored annually by Emerson, the St. Louis-headquartered global technology and engineering company.

“As part of Emerson’s commitment to education and our hometown community of St. Louis, we are proud to champion the critical role of teachers in guiding and shaping the lives of the next generation of innovators,” said Akberet Boykin Farr, vice president of diversity and social responsibility for Emerson.