Tresch was one of 585 national entrants in the foundation's US Professors of the Year Program, which for 15 years has saluted outstanding undergraduate instructors; its award is recognized as one of the most prestigious honors bestowed upon professors.
Tresch, who was nominated by the University, was chosen for the state honor from among 18 faculty members representing 15 Massachusetts institutions by a panel comprised of deans, professors, education writers and others in the education field.
"I am quite humbled by the award, and extremely grateful to the Carnegie Foundation," Tresch said. "The greatest honor, however, is to have been nominated by Boston College. There are so many good teachers here and to be chosen to represent them in the program is something I truly value."
Tresch, the Economics Department chairman, is the second Boston College faculty member to receive the award. Rattigan Professor of English John Mahoney was selected as the 1989 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.
Assoc. Prof. Richard Tresch (Economics).
Candidates for the awards are judged on their dedication to undergraduate teaching in several areas: impact on and involvement with students; scholarly approach to teaching; service to undergraduates, institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current or former students.
"Dick Tresch has become a legend at Boston College and so it is no wonder that he has been chosen as Teacher of the Year," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ. "It is also noteworthy that Dick receives this honor only seven years after John Mahoney. Simple arithmetic would indicate that BC is receiving more than its share of this prestigious award."
"This is a wonderful recognition of Dick's work as a teacher and mentor," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ. "Although his classes are large, he strives to make them a personal experience for his students. His enthusiasm for economics and his ability to provide a unifying framework for a myriad of today's issues are captivating. Many of his students recommend his courses to their peers and, as a result, they often decide to major in economics or a related discipline."
Although Tresch has taught upper-level and graduate courses, he is known primarily for his Principles of Economics class, an introductory course taken mostly by freshmen and sophomores. In 1994, Tresch published a textbook, Principles of Economics , to broaden undergraduates' understanding of the discipline.
Tresch described his approach to teaching as straightforward, relying exclusively on the lecture method. He feels effective instruction results from a teacher's enthusiasm for, and deep understanding of, the material and his or her ability to develop an overriding point of view in presenting it.
"Certainly, others have found that newer teaching styles suit them," Tresch explained, "but for me, lecturing simply works. I suppose you could say I'm pretty old-fashioned: I've stayed with the chalk and blackboard and I don't even like to use an overhead projector. I just feel it's important to keep the focus on the student-teacher relationship. The most successful class, I've found, is one where all eyes are on you.
"It really all comes back to the content," he continued. "We're not entertaining the students, but they have to be convinced you care about what you're presenting. You want to give them analysis, show them how economists think and analyze problems. That's why it's critical to spend time organizing the material into a framework that students can grasp."
Tresch earned a bachelor's degree from Williams College in 1965 and a doctorate in economics in 1973 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a teaching assistant prior to his arrival at Boston College. A member of the American Economic Association, Tresch served on the board of editors for the American Economic Review , and has contributed to New England Journal of Business and Economics and Public Finance .
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