The Word Online The Word Online
The Word Online Home The Word Archives UIW Home

Feature StoriesThe Making of a WinnerDr. Francis BoakariRoger BarnesIt's Just A NameLessons Outside the ClassroomSectionsCampus NewsUniversity CollectiveClass NotesCredits  

Feature Stories

Barnes Wins Presidential Teaching Award

Dr. Roger Barnes
Dr. Roger Barnes (center) with Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Denise Doyle and President Dr. Lou Agnese, Jr.

Sociology professor Dr. Roger Barnes has always believed in his students. It’s that desire to help them realize their full potential that earned him the coveted Presidential Teaching Award in the spring.

“Over the years I’ve learned never to give up on my students. Students should be considered raw material’ on their way to greatness,” said Barnes, who has taught at Incarnate Word for 17 years.

“Some students have more knowledge than others, while some students have more life experience. I try to tap into that individualized potential they have within themselves."

The Presidential Teaching Award honors faculty members who have demonstrated a dedicated approach to instructing students in an engaging and encouraging manner. Nominated by his faculty peers, students, and University alumni, Barnes, who is the first recipient of the award, also received $5,000.

“Dr. Barnes is a fun person who makes the classroom experience enjoyable for his students,” said Dr. Denise Doyle, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. “Looking back at his teaching at UIW since 1988, he’s been consistent, inspiring and enthusiastic. All of those qualities combined helped him win this award.”

Barnes, who has spent 22 years as an educator, said his most rewarding moments have come when he was able to elicit thought-provoking, life-changing moments for his students.

“Seven years ago, I had guest speakers in my ‘Sociology of Deviance’ class from an organization called ‘Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing,’” explained Barnes. “The group is comprised of family members of murder victims and death row inmates who come together to oppose the death penalty. They discussed the plight of innocent victims of the death penalty system in my class.

“A student of mine, who was a local member of law enforcement and supporter of the death penalty, became emotional about the subject during the presentation,” continued Barnes. “A few semesters later she visited my office and shared her continually broadening view on the subject. Later she told me that my class helped her change her mind entirely on the subject.”

Taking that example to heart, Barnes says there is nothing more exciting for an educator than to experience firsthand a student’s desire for constant discovery and knowledge. “To watch them learn and become intellectually curious is what I think all teachers strive for in their students,” he said. “I will always find that feeling the most rewarding.”

The child of a historian and a community college president, Barnes grew up surrounded by books and magazines. Learning new things became second nature. “I love ideas, words and trying to find answers to troubling issues,” said Barnes. “Going into education was a direct by-product of my upbringing.”

“Education is so much fun. There is always discussion, debate, curiosity and knowledge in an educational setting. We should never stop the process of learning and growing.”

In discussing his latest honor, Barnes sums it up with humility and recognition for his colleagues at Incarnate Word.

“There are many people here who do what I do everyday,” said Barnes, adding that the award won’t change his teaching approach in the classroom. “I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing, and loving it.”