Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

UNO Philosophy Professor Scores Big in Questia's "Most Valuable Professor" Competition

Questia Will Establish Five $500 Scholarships in Winning Professor's Name

University of New Orleans Assistant Professor of Philosophy Chris Surprenant is named "Most Valuable Professor" University of New Orleans Assistant Professor of Philosophy Chris Surprenant, has been named in a contest supported by students as one of three Most Valuable Professors across the nation.

From professional athletes across baseball, football and basketball, to infamous reality TV pick-up crews, the MVP moniker has long been associated with those who are at the top of their game. Now, a University of New Orleans faculty member has been named by students as one of three Most Valuable Professors across the nation.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy Chris Surprenant is one of three professors named MVP through Questia's first ever Most Valuable Professor Competition, Questia's parent company, Cengage Learning, reported this week. The award was established to give college students "the chance to nominate the professors who have had the biggest impact on their education."

In spring, Questia, an online library and research tool for students, sought nominations from students nationwide for "the professors who have had lasting impressions on their education and lives." One of Surprenant's undergraduate students saw the advertisement in the weekly Campus News Blast and entered his name.

A jury of Questia researchers selected the top 10 professors based on student testimonials, then opened voting to the public to determine which of the top 10 professors ultimately received Questia's National Title of MVP. Surprenant is one of three professors named national MVP and next year will sit on the scholarship selection committee.

As a prize, Questia will award five $500 academic scholarships — for a total of $2,500 in scholarships — in Surprenant's name to students of his choice.

Questia has set rules requiring that recipients of the Chris W. Surprenant Scholarships at UNO major in Humanities, have a minimum ACT score of 31 or equivalent SAT score and a minimum GPA level of 3.5.

Surprenant joined the UNO Philosophy Department in 2012 and promptly founded the The Alexis de Tocqueville Project on Democratic Ideals and Institutions, which brings speakers from around the nation to the University's Lakefront campus to participate in panel discussions designed to promote scholarship and discourse in moral and political thought.

In 2013, The Tocqueville Project, as the nonprofit is known on campus, received grants in the amount of $22,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation and $6,000 from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University to support programming at UNO, according to Surprenant.

"Valuable professors not only educate students on their subject of expertise, but provide students with tools and lessons they can apply to real life situations," says Joe Miller, chief researcher at Questia. "We probably don't thank them enough. Nominating a special professor is a wonderful opportunity for students to elevate an unsung hero to MVP."

In a recent survey, Questia asked students who they turn to first for trustworthy academic advice, and more than half said it was a professor, the company says in a statement. When asked who their college mentor is, the majority also said it was a professor.

"It seems as though professors are a go-to source for more than just homework questions—they are advisers, mentors and MVPs!"


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