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Alumni Society Award – Dr. Linda Waldron

  Tuesday, September 1, 2015

“I came here during a time when there were a lot of curriculum changes,” she says, recalling her role in developing new courses. “This forces you to constantly seek feedback from your students. That’s how I view teaching anyway, as very collaborative.”

An associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology, Waldron received the 2014 Alumni Society Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. “Just to be nominated is very humbling, particularly to be recognized by your dean,” she says of the selection process. The award’s $2,500 prize celebrated her commitment to teaching, learning excellence and university fellowship – and allowed her to give the keynote address at the 2015 honors convocation during commencement week.

A graduate of Bloomsburg University (BA, sociology) and Syracuse University (MA and PhD, sociology; MA, TV/radio/film), Waldron exudes a passion for teaching that makes a campus of 5,000 students ideal. “It’s big enough that my students change but small enough that I’m able to have some of them more than once,” she says. “That’s something I like about teaching here; you don’t have the same students in all of your classes but sometimes get multiple opportunities to see them throughout the year.”

Waldron enjoys introducing young people to her field of expertise, regardless of their major. “Sociology isn’t something a lot of them have had in high school. I have pre-med students in my youth violence class, and they’re always struck by how relevant the material is to becoming a doctor,” she says. “That’s a good feeling; they don’t all have to major in my field, but there’s something about my discipline that is very interdisciplinary and relevant to a lot of people.”

Waldron’s interests cover myriad timely topics: inequality in education, media and popular culture; bullying and youth violence; childhood socialization; and multiculturalism and diversity. And during her 11 years at CNU she has shared her talents across several departments – from the graduate teaching program, to classes supporting academic minors in American studies and childhood studies, to the Honors Program.

Through the years, practical application has remained an essential component of her teaching style. More than memorizing facts, Waldron encourages students to apply what they learn while looking at the world around them, determining how they can contribute to the greater good. “It helps develop more empathy for people when you can understand why they do things that maybe you don’t agree with. That’s my goal,” she explains.

A testament to Waldron’s teaching excellence, she often discovers that her students become so invested in what they’re studying that they explore the material further on their own. “I always have a couple of students every semester that I call my teaching assistants because they’re constantly emailing me, asking questions like, ‘Did you see this video?’” she says. “Then I get to use the material they send me next time I teach, and I always make sure those students get credit for the idea.”

Studying sociology – which Waldron describes as a broad field – sets young people on the path to significance. Recent graduates from Christopher Newport have gone on to study conflict resolution and clinical psychology, pursue careers in education and criminology, and even work with the Centers for Disease Control. She notes, “Sometimes when you present those opportunities and force people to see they can do anything with a liberal arts degree, or with sociology, it allows them to care about the community.”

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