Robert E. James, of Blacksburg, Va., was awarded the 2009 Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

As a professor of dairy science, James shows his passion for his field and his dedication to his students every single day. James’ ability to draw lessons and examples from his personal experience, and his practical, hands-on approach to teaching, excite students about his classes. “Dr. James was able to make hard concepts easy to understand, and was able to take easily understood concepts and apply them to real-life situations,” explained Casey Marstaller, a recent dairy science graduate. “His lectures in class were interactive, and class problem sets put students at the steering wheel as nutritionists.”

Michael Akers, Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor and head of the Department of Dairy Science, said “Dr. James demonstrates a superb ability to connect with students, to develop rapport, and to prepare them not to repeat facts and figures, but to make informed, reasoned decisions about dairy management, nutrition, and, indeed, life issues.”

James exhibits commitment and passion outside of the classroom through his work with external student activities. His roles as a student advisor and as a 24-year advisor to the Dairy Club at Virginia Tech have earned him the respect and admiration of many students throughout the years. According to students James has advised, he works hard to get to know each of them on a personal and academic level. “This is most likely Dr. James’ greatest strength,” said Mary Dickenson, a former student. “His advice is tailored to each student, because he knows them all so well that he can recognize opportunities that are best for them.”

“Many professors at Virginia Tech are passionate about their field. Very few, however, are as passionate about their students as Dr. James,” said Brandon Tomlinson, an agricultural sciences graduate.

James received his bachelor’s degree in animal and poultry science from the University of Delaware and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in dairy science from Virginia Tech.

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