The Dr. Aileen Creighton Award for Teaching Excellence is highly coveted among Del Mar College (DMC) faculty. During fall convocation today, the College announced Richard D. Rupp, Mathematics Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Physics, as the 2017 Creighton Award recipient.
Rupp is the 16th recipient of the award, which Del Mar first established in 2002 and named the honor for Dr. Aileen Creighton, Dean Emeritus of Arts and Sciences. The award represents the late educator’s legacy as a “master teacher” and serves as the benchmark faculty must emulate to receive the honor. Dr. Creighton was known for her dedication to students and higher education, along with the inspiration she provided to other educators during her 41-year career at the College.
“It’s very flattering and an honor to receive this award,” Rupp said after accepting this year’s honor. “The award for teaching accolades is the best I’ve ever had, but it’s all about the students.”
Letters of support from faculty and former students supported Rupp’s nomination for the Creighton Award.
“His enthusiasm at the idea of bringing into his classroom a service specifically targeting student success and persistence told me volumes about the lengths Professor Rupp will go to boost student success,” wrote DMC colleague and professor of sociology Ron Huskin. “Since 2009, he has worked with the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program identifying promising students to serve as leaders for his classes.”
“Restoring the student’s confidence is our real purpose and the goal I endeavor to pursue in my teaching,” noted Rupp. “With confidence comes the drive to be successful and the empowerment inherent in feeling able to pursue any major or career without worrying if they can pass the necessary coursework. How to attain this goal, that is the $50,000 question, and the driving impetus in the development of my teaching method.”
Rupp adds that with the use of SI leaders, he realized that students learn more by doing than by watching. This assisting of others reflects a third core principle of his teaching philosophy—learning occurs best when it is shared. Rupp notes that all of this fosters greater student independence, greater creativity, greater student willingness for collaboration and dramatically improved problem-solving capabilities.
Rupp isn’t just a master of mathematics; he’s a master of working with students. One of Rupp’s former students and DMC adjunct mathematics instructor Aimee Maceyko wrote “Professor Rupp gave me the opportunity to explore a new possibility. He saw something in me I had not yet witnessed myself.” Maceyko said that after working as an SI leader, she began to view teaching as a calling rather than a fallback and credits Rupp for her decision to pursue a career in teaching mathematics, specifically at a post-secondary level.
Rupp’s recognition and dedication to education is evident with his receiving several awards related to his teaching, including the 2008 Master Teacher Award, nominee for the 2009 Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Piper Professor Award and the 2010-2011 Del Mar College East Campus Instructor of the Year award.
Outside of the classroom, he immersed himself into the operations of the College accepting multiple extra duties and assignments. He served on the faculty council with terms as both vice-chair and chair became very involved in course content analysis and design and participated in many endeavors relating to college algebra and the creation, course justification and instruction of a mathematics sequence required for future elementary and middle school teachers previously only taught at senior institutions.
Rupp dedicated a combined 21 years of service to major initiatives, projects or grants supported by both the State of Texas and the National Science Foundation focused on improving the content knowledge and quality of instruction of K-16 educators.
Underlying all his service, Rupp always kept his students his top priority, vowing to keep his classroom environments relaxed and to teach the way he would want to be taught. His commitment to providing quality instruction has been repeatedly noticed and recognized.
A member of the Del Mar faculty since 1997, Rupp earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Saint Olaf College, Northfield, MN, and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
IN THE PHOTO: Mathematics Professor Richard D. Rupp (left), recipient of the 2017 Dr. Aileen Creighton Award for Teaching Excellence, receives the honor from DMC President Dr. Mark Escamilla in Richardson Performance Hall on Aug. 21.