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Douglas Epperson, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (515) 294-7740
Dave Gieseke, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (515) 294-7742
Kevin Brown, News Service, (515) 294-8986


AMES, Iowa -- Five professors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University have been named 2003-04 Master Teachers.

The Master Teachers are Hector Avalos, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies and director of the U.S. Latino/a Studies Program; J. Herman Blake, professor of sociology and educational leadership and director of the African American Studies Program; Susan Cross, associate professor of psychology; Jacquelyn Litt, associate professor of sociology and interim director of the Women's Studies Program; and Lulu Rodriguez, associate professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

This is the fifth year of the program that recognizes teachers who use unique methods to enhance learning. This year's awards focus on individuals who excel in multicultural teaching at Iowa State.

Past Master Teacher awards have focused on technology use in the classroom, large lecture classroom instruction, undergraduate research and off-campus learning opportunities.

Avalos is the director of the U.S. Latino/a Studies program, the only such program at any Iowa college or university. He founded the program in 1994. Avalos also has developed and introduced many of the program's courses, including an introduction to U.S. Latino/a Studies. He also has developed courses on Latino/a religious experiences and literature.

As director of the African American Studies Program, Blake is responsible for academic programs with an emphasis on faculty recruitment and retention, curriculum development, research and creativity, and service. In 2002, the Carnegie Foundation of the Advancement of Teaching named Blake its Iowa Professor of the Year. Blake developed the Multicultural Learning Community at Iowa State -- a program that fosters high academic achievement as well as social unity among diverse students.

A nationally recognized scholar in cross-cultural literature, Cross studies the ways culture shapes the way people define themselves. Cross developed a senior-level course in cultural psychology that helps students understand the scientific literature in cross-cultural psychology. The class examines how psychological processes once assumed to be universal are actually culture-bound.

Litt advocates a supportive and nurturing environment for women and persons of color at Iowa State. She studies the international dimensions of diversity and multiculturalism in the U.S. by looking at race, class and gender. She expanded the Introduction to Women's Studies course to teach globalization, international perspectives on women's lives and gender, experiential and scholarly perspectives of non-U.S. women, engaging students in reflection on ethnocentrism and international diversity.

In each professional (visual communication) and analytical graduate course Rodriguez teaches, she includes information on diversity and inclusiveness. The bulk of her undergraduate teaching is on visual literacy. Visual literacy is the study of why visual techniques are chosen, how they work and how they may be effectively used. She teaches communication students to be sensitive to how messages may translate across cultures.

The five professors will plan teaching methods seminars and in-class demonstrations throughout the academic year.


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