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Many professors impacted English graduate Ronald L. Steiner ’82, including several who directly shaped the way he teaches and views the world. Ellis Finger, a former German professor and current director of the Williams Center for the Arts, taught him how to integrate knowledge from varied sources. Donald Miller, John Henry MacCracken Professor of History, made history relevant. Carolynn Van Dyke, March Professor of English, introduced him to hermeneutics and the analysis of language.

“They were models of engaged teachers who really cared about their students, not just what their students learned,” says Steiner.

Now he is passing on these gifts to students at Chapman University in Orange County, Calif., who have honored him with the annual Faculty Recognition Award, acknowledging his “outstanding dedication and continual inspiration in the field of teaching.”

“This award is very meaningful because it reflects the vote of the students, rather than a selection of a committee,” he says. “It means I’m succeeding by the standards of the people best positioned to make a judgment about what’s going on in the trenches.”

A professor of political science and legal studies, Steiner earned a doctorate at University of Minnesota and law degree from University of Southern California. He notes it is a challenge to balance the demands of the profession to produce highly specialized scholarship with the needs of the undergraduate student to get a well-rounded educational experience.

“What is most exciting is to help students find ways to explore their passions in the face of the competing and conflicting demands young people face these days,” he explains.

Steiner makes it a priority to provide internships and other experiential learning opportunities. For instance, he helped one of his American-born Hispanic students secure an internship in Nicaragua that allowed her to gain experience as a loan officer, improve her Spanish language skills, and spend time with her grandmother.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles