Greg Tew, associate professor of interior design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2014 Sporn Award for Teaching Introductory Subjects.

Sponsored by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research and the Virginia Tech Academy for Teaching Excellence, the Sporn Award for Teaching Introductory Subjects recognizes a Virginia Tech faculty member who teaches introductory-level courses. Nominated by students, award recipients are selected by a committee composed of student representatives from the Omicron Delta Kappa and Golden Key honor societies, as well as the faculty member who won the award the previous year. Award winners receive $2,000 and are inducted into the university's Academy of Teaching Excellence.

The award was established in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Philip J. Sporn. Philip Sporn was a Virginia Tech alumnus and president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power Co.

Tew’s innovative teaching strategies in his course, Design Appreciation, earned the nomination and award. He began teaching the course in 2010, and was “determined to create a dynamic and thought provoking learning environment with content relevant to all students at Virginia Tech.” 

In the course, Tew weaves together key moments from history with current events, often with headline news from the day of the lecture, to tell a story of design as a critical element in our quality of life.

Students frequently comment on Tew’s ability to engage students as individuals in a class with more than 300 students. One student noted that Tew spoke to us “as if we were having a conversation.” 

The Forum feature in Scholar is one tool Tew uses engage students. He poses introspective questions after each class to encourage students to explore their preconceptions and to imagine ways they can use their education to improve society, not only in their field of study, but as “good citizens.” 

His engaging teaching is well received by students who consistently rank him among the very best teachers on campus.

“Professor Tew views his responsibility to the students as greater than the exchange of new knowledge,” wrote Jack Davis, Reynolds Professor and dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “He is dedicated to high quality effective student learning and excellence in teaching.”

His teaching extends beyond the classroom. Tew served as the Interior Design Program Chair for eight years and worked with faculty and students to elevate the program to consistent top 10 rankings in the Design Intelligence survey. He also greatly expanded the funding base and network of professional support for the program during his time as program chair.

Tew’s current research includes design of an alternative neighborhood model based on European allotment gardens with an emphasis on health and affordability. He is a multiple American Institute of Architects Honor Award winning architect with a broad base of experience as a designer. His work includes town and city planning at the macro scale through to the scale of objects with international experience as a product designer.

He has presented his research to diverse academic groups representing architecture, interior design, health care and economics and his work is published in many of the leading international design and business publications.

Tew received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Mississippi State University and a Master of Industrial Design degree from Pratt Institute.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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