Rewarding efforts

Students usually prefer to avoid the executive director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, Alisa Liggett. But students from her University 101 classes, the university’s first-year student seminars, decided instead to nominate Liggett for the 2015 M. Stuart Hunter Award for Outstanding Teaching in University 101 that she later was awarded.

“There are so many days throughout the semester when I leave the classroom having been reminded why I love teaching this course,” says Liggett. “In U101, we have the opportunity to help them examine who they are and how they can develop into an even better version of themselves. Seeing them recognize and trust the value of their own voice and take risks to share and grow from there is why we all teach.”

In nominating the teacher for the award, one of her former students noted Liggett’s joy for each of her classes.

“Her constant enthusiasm when she attends class is heavily contagious, causing students to be more productive in and around the classroom," the nomination read. "She is one of the primary reasons why my first semester here at Carolina was so enjoyable, and I am going to miss having her class next semester.”

Liggett has been a University 101 professor for 17 years. And with this much experience, she used her understanding of the university to help each student find “their simple unassuming selves” while they grow as individuals in college, as she states in her teaching philosophy. Liggett helped students with their transition into college because of her knowledge of resources and opportunities offered at the university.

In Liggett’s teaching philosophy, she also discusses using the National Public Radio series “This I Believe” to coach her students “to explore, challenge, design and proclaim to the class what they believe teaches them what they already know.”

She used this series to help her students open up in innovative ways to their classmates and build themselves as each freshman has to learn the unfamiliar challenges of college.

“Not only was she a great person, but she was also an amazing instructor. She would plan fun and thought-provoking activities for the class that would make the class interesting. She challenges her students but still allows for us to enjoy class. She makes learning fun,” says Jacob Hitchcock, a former student.

Giving her students a place to speak without judgement as well as Liggett’s infectious and enthusiastic personality allowed her classroom to be a success.

“Mrs. Liggett is by far the most caring and understanding teacher I have ever had. She would always be open to listen to our problems and situations. This made transitioning into college much easier,” says Hitchcock.

And while her students learned from her, Liggett was able to learn from her students.

“This year in our class, one student in particular made me the student. She reminded me that the time we spent together teaching each other about authenticity, exploration and humanity were equally as important to the critical topics of campus safety and critical thinking,” Liggett says. “I was lucky to have exceptional students and an exceptional graduate leader in Rachel Denmark, a new USC employee.”

Liggett became the seventh recipient of the award and the second after the award’s name was changed to honor Mary Stuart Hunter, a leader in the first-year experience movement with 37 years of commitment to the university. Liggett was nominated and selected for the award by her fellow faculty, staff and students.

Jamie Burg, one of the students who nominated Liggett for the teaching award, says: “She was always working to help us, and she's one of the sweetest people I've ever met. She truly cared about ALL of us, and I've never had a better instructor.”

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