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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Professor’s teaching style spurs growth in philosophy

Dr. Tony Roberts, NW Campus professor of philosophy and religion, leads his class in a discussion of the brain. Roberts recently received the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching for NW Campus.  Photo by Sarah McVean/The Collegian
Dr. Tony Roberts, NW Campus professor of philosophy and religion, leads his class in a discussion of the brain. Roberts recently received the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching for NW Campus. Photo by Sarah McVean/The Collegian

By Katie Hudson-Martinez/feature editor

(Part one in a four-part series on faculty winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching, an annual award that recognizes professors who impress and inspire their students.)

Dr. Tony Roberts, NW Campus professor of philosophy and religion, leads his class in a discussion of the brain. Roberts recently received the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching for NW Campus.  Photo by Sarah McVean/The Collegian
Dr. Tony Roberts, NW Campus professor of philosophy and religion, leads his class in a discussion of the brain. Roberts recently received the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching for NW Campus. Photo by Sarah McVean/The Collegian

Dr. Tony Roberts strives to inspire students to have a thirst for knowledge and a will to succeed.

Roberts, NW Campus professor of philosophy and religion, has been at TCC for 11 years and has a passion for teaching and mentoring students.

His dynamic and personalized teaching style has stimulated growth of enrollment in a once neglected area of study: philosophy.

In 1996, when Roberts began teaching on NW Campus, only 95 students were enrolled in philosophy courses. This year more than 500 enrolled.

“ Philosophy is questioning everything,” he said. “It is an introduction to everything and the beginning of a quest for wisdom and knowledge.”

In his class, Roberts ties philosophy to the individual interests of the students in a way they can understand.

“ It’s easy to create an enjoyable class because you touch on all the other things they are learning about,” he said.

“ Everybody can be excited about some aspect of philosophy. I just happen to be excited about all of it.”
Roberts founded a philosophy club at the request of students who wanted to continue the discussion after class and a Web-based meeting place on Yahoo Groups called Plato’s Cave.

He was the first TCC professor to ask for and implement a “fully wired classroom,” which he uses to integrate technology into the classroom and seamlessly blend information from the Internet into the lesson.

As former director of the Cornerstone Honors Program, and now adviser to the NW Campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Roberts has assisted many students in obtaining scholarships to four-year universities.

Under his direction, the number of Cornerstone graduates rose by 80 percent, and his work in strengthening articulation agreements with four-year universities will help all TCC students who transfer.
Although he has been successful in supervisory positions, Roberts is most at home in the classroom.

“ I love connecting with people,” he said. “Human life is fascinating, and we love to talk about ourselves and each other. There is so much that you can take away from that kind of interaction.”

Roberts was inspired by some of the professors he had in college and knew he wanted to share that kind of experience with others.

“ Philosophy is exciting to me; that excitement comes out in my lessons, and hopefully rubs off on my students,” he said.

Many of Roberts’ students have written to him, thanking him for his dedication and praising his teaching ability.

Roberts is “the most engaging, informative and excellent instructor I have had the privilege of meeting at TCC,” Wade Lipham, NW student, said.

Former student Karmen Morales wrote a letter of recommendation for Roberts, who assisted her in obtaining a scholarship to Stanford University.

“ His passion for teaching made his classes a pleasure to take,” she said in the letter.

“ To this day, I find myself thinking about Dr. Roberts’ advice.”

In addition to mentoring his own students, Roberts has spoken to high school students about TCC and the Cornerstone program, which he proudly calls “the Cadillac of honors programs.”

He has also participated in multi-cultural seminars such as a post-Sept. 11 Understanding Islam, which drew a large crowd on NW Campus.

His dedication to the community, the school and his students earned him top recognition this year when Roberts was honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching.

This was Roberts’ second nomination for this award, and he has also been awarded the Golden Apple for teaching and has been in the Who’s Who of Teaching for several years.

Roberts is happy to be appreciated and plans to continue doing exactly what he has been doing for years: teaching and helping students succeed at TCC and beyond.

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