Leonard Engel honored with a 2013 Center for Excellence in Teaching Award

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Professor Leonard Engel

Leonard Engel has an insatiable appetite for learning, an infectious passion for the written word that few are able to escape. Each semester, he challenges his students to immerse themselves in literature and find the meanings not just behind the words but also in their lives.

Engel, professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized for his efforts with Quinnipiac University’s most prestigious faculty honor, the Excellence in Teaching Award. He will be honored at theCenter for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Recreation Center on the Mount Carmel Campus.

“He is a superb teacher, the kind you always hear about when a successful person speaks about important influences and mentors,” said Robert Smart, professor and chair of English and a 2010 Center for Excellence honoree. “He’s excited about the literature he teaches because in many ways, he is still a student of that literature, and any decent teacher will tell you that that is the secret to inspiring students.”

Engel, who is celebrating his 50th year of teaching at Quinnipiac, said he was both surprised and humbled by the recognition.

“I’ve learned so much from my peers and students,” he said. “I love the entire process of education. It’s so incredibly fulfilling.”

David Corso, an adjunct professor of English, has known Engel for more than four decades – first as a student, then as a friend and now as a colleague.

“Len’s commitment to his students, his insistence on college education as a journey of mutual discovery of instructor and students and his fierce devotion to ideas great and not so great for examination, make him well-deserving of recognition for his many years of teaching at Quinnipiac.”

Engel said his five decades at the growing university have passed quickly.

“The key is to relax and have fun,” he said. “The challenge is to find innovative ways to get students to enjoy what they are reading – and to realize that they only have four years to read some of the great books.”

He said many students wrongly believe that they will have the opportunity to read the classics after earning their respective degrees. Unfortunately, he said, that’s rarely the case with blossoming careers and families.

Eric Esposito ’14 said Engel has changed the way he looks at literature.

“It takes a great teacher to help guide students to such a powerful state of aesthetic enlightenment, but he has succeeded countless times before, and he has succeeded in me and in all the students fortunate enough to have taken a course with him,” he said. “After taking a course with him, you will become a lover of lyric, a lover of life, and, perhaps most importantly, better people than you were before in our compassion and empathy for all those around us.”

John Gourlie, a professor in the School of Communications, said he was not surprised.

“As various teaching fads or silver bullets for success seem to take over at any given moment, Len has a remarkable success in making a life-long impression upon a number of his students,” Gourlie said. “Perhaps it is because he succeeds in conveying his passion for the literature he is teaching. It is also because he communicates his caring for the success of his students as well. He wants them to share his passion. And he wants them to learn to write well. These become a means of communicating his caring for the students themselves.”

Also being honored with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students Award are: Camille Bracale, a custodian; Heidi Erickson, senior associate director of Undergraduate AdmissionsAngela Mattie, associate professor in the Healthcare Management and Organizational Leadership department in the School of Business and EngineeringAndri Smith, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Marion Sparago, secretary in the School of Education.

Each recipient will receive a $3,000 cash award, a Center for Excellence sculpture and their names will be carved into the stone plaque in the Arnold Bernhard Library. They will also be featured in “Quinnipiac Magazine” and attend a luncheon with President John L. Lahey in April.

Members of the university community may nominate faculty and staff for next year’s awards through April 15, 2014. Please click here for more information.

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