Dedicated to his students and passionate about his teaching, Dr. Brett Holden was named the 2005 Master Teacher by the Student Alumni Connection and the BGSU Alumni Association. The award was presented at the annual Faculty Recognition Dinner Oct. 26.
Considered the highest honor given to faculty, the Master Teacher Award recognizes faculty members who demonstrate special care for their students. It comes with $1,000 and an engraved plaque.
Holden has taught at Bowling Green since 1993. He has a joint appointment in English and the Chapman Learning Community at Kohl, where he is the faculty-in-residence this year. He has been involved with developing residential learning communities since 1997, when he was recruited to serve as a core member for Chapman. From 2002-04, he was associate director of the program.
His larger goal, he says, is to help shape significant change in undergraduate education, both at BGSU and nationally. He has served as a consultant to other universities wishing to implement residential learning communities, in South Dakota and Michigan.
Holden says he believes in modeling the skills of a lifelong learner—the most important skills he believes students will need in life. “Daily I endeavor to become a better critical reader and thinker; a clear, precise writer; an active, respectful debater, and an impassioned, innovative collaborator,” he writes.
Intellectually, his loves are English literature and writing. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from Gannon University in 1991; his master’s degree in English literature, also from Gannon, in 1993, and his Ph.D. in modern British literature from BGSU in 2001.
In 1998 he created a course on The Literature of War in response to a perceived, “profound need on campus for a course that would involve undergraduate students in a sustained discussion of modern warfare and its effects upon the human mind and body.” The class goes beyond the reading of the literature and critical materials to include visits from veterans, field trips and meetings with people who have served in the military.
“Brett Holden goes beyond the ‘normal’ classroom activities because he presents his material in a very effective way,” wrote a student nominator.
Holden says he strives to engage students in inquiry-based learning, believing it to be the most effective technique.
His care for his students has earned their devotion. “Dr. Holden treats all his students with fairness and respect, one of the core values held in high esteem at this university,” a nominator wrote. “He knows his students well because of the great rapport he builds with each individual, and the comfortable atmosphere created in his classroom.”
Holden’s commitment goes beyond the classroom walls. “He is an active supporter of the Chapman Community and is the first to volunteer to lead his students on study-abroad programs during the summers to Mexico, and various other trips,” a student wrote.
He works with students on service-learning projects, team teaches a Mexican Cultures class that takes him to Mexico City and Puebla in the summer and is frequently seen lunching with students in the Commons.
“I cannot imagine myself in a field other than education,” he writes. “In the end, I simply love what I do.”