English professor Evan Carton received the 2016 Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching on March 21.
The award is presented annually to an outstanding tenured or tenure-track professor from either the College of Liberal Arts or the College of Natural Sciences. The Holloway was the first award created on campus for which the nomination and selection are entirely determined by students. The recipient of the 46-year-old award receives recognition and a $4,500 endowment from former Texas Exes President Sterling Holloway.
This year, 100 professors were nominated for the award based on several factors including teaching ability, classroom engagement and concern for society. A student committee observed five finalists in class and ultimately chose Carton.
Carton joined the University’s English department faculty in 1978. In addition to being a professor, he is also an author of several books. His literary work covers topics such as 19th century American literature, the history of 20th century literary criticism, and a non-fiction narrative about civil rights activist John Brown’s life.
A discussion class of 23 students nominated Carton. The professor said he was surprised to be nominated for the award and asked his students what set him apart from other professors.
“The students felt that the class challenged them to read literature in a new way and use literature as an opportunity to utilize in contemporary life,” Carton said. “They read closely, talked with each other and taught each other because they were really engaged in the literature.”
Clinton Jones, an English senior, said Carton’s likability as a teacher comes from the way he treats his students.
“Professor Carton treats all his students like professional scholars in their own right, giving validity to even the most personal or unconventional perspective.” Jones said.
Sidharth Kapur, electrical engineering and computer science senior said he believed Carton was able to apply lessons from novels to students’ personal lives, which attracted many non-English student to his class.
“I loved Dr. Carton’s ‘American Novel after 1960’ course,” Kapur said. “In the course, he encouraged the students to invent theories about the novels and connect the novels to our personal experiences and beliefs. Thinking about the texts like this and debating these ideas with Dr. Carton and my classmates was a lot of fun.”