Assoc. Prof. Seth Jacobs (History)
History's Jacobs Is PBK 'Teacher of the Year'
By Greg Frost
Assoc. Prof. Seth Jacobs (History) possesses a sharp mind, a keen sense of humor and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for his subject matter.
According to at least one member of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Boston College, which picked Jacobs for its Teacher of the Year Award this year, the historian also has the uncanny ability to defy the laws of nature.
"As a professor, Seth Jacobs walks on water," reads one of the anonymous nomination forms that endorsed Jacobs as the recipient of the chapter's annual teaching award.
Another student who cast a ballot in his favor wrote that Jacobs is "lively, entertaining and a joy to watch" during lectures. A third called Jacobs a passionate and enthusiastic professor who presents course material in an inventive and engaging manner.
Jacobs, who joined BC in 2001, acknowledges that passion and enthusiasm are most likely the keys to his receiving the award. A former actor who traded the stage for the classroom, Jacobs credits Prof. Richard Tresch (Economics) with showing him the importance of bringing alive one's chosen discipline for students.
"Tresch won a teaching award a few years ago, and in his two-page statement on what made him a good teacher he said that an instructor's enthusiasm is infectious," says Jacobs.
"I'm really not one of those people who grew up destined to be an academic and hence I haven't had all the spontaneity and joy ground out of me," he adds. "I love what I do. I find history fascinating and exciting and so I guess that must come across in teaching."
That Jacobs won the award in only his fifth year at BC is "very impressive," according to Prof. Michael Resler (German Studies), vice president of BC's Phi Beta Kappa chapter.
"He has won it incredibly quickly," Resler says. "He is probably the most junior person to ever get the award."
Jacobs received his honor at the society's annual induction ceremony Sunday, May 21, where some 85 seniors and 10 juniors were also honored with membership in the BC chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.