"If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you talk about tonight?"
That was the prompt given to the winner of the annual Chiron Award for their award lecture. The Chiron Award is given each year to a professor nominated by their students in recognition of their character and service to the undergraduate population. The question was inspired by a lecture given by Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon, who had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and died shortly thereafter.
Lawton Ives is one of the students who was in charge of handing out the award.
“In honor of Pausch’s last lecture, this lecture series was started at UNC 10 years ago,” Ives said. “Every year, we ask for nominations from the student body of any educator who has made a difference for them and who they think have wisdom to share with everyone.”
This year’s Chiron Award winner is Matthew Andrews, a professor in the Department of History as well as the undergraduate advisor for the department. Andrews teaches a number of history courses but is most well-known for his classes exploring the world of sports.
“In all my sports courses, we use sports to get at the same themes as we do in my other courses,” Andrews said. “We look at race, class, gender, national identity, political protest, stuff like that.”
He said his students love his courses for two reasons: the subject itself and the enthusiasm and energy he brings to class each day.
“When I first started teaching, someone gave me a book called ‘Teach Like Your Hairs on Fire’ and it's good advice,” Andrews said. “I’m not sure if I ever do it, but there is no such thing as being too hyper and enthusiastic when you teach. You need to bring a lot of energy to the room.”
Andrews said one of the important things to remember while lecturing is that you’re teaching. He said that no matter what the subject is, it is important to figure out how to relate to and reach out to the people in the audience.
One student Andrews was able to reach out to is James Tatter. Tatter nominated Andrews and works as an assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel.
“As a lecturer, he really stands out,” Tatter said. “Going to his class feels like going to the movies, it’s like a treat. You don’t ever think about skipping it.”
Tatter said that Andrew's storytelling is what makes him stand out as a professor. He goes in-depth with the material by weaving a narrative in with it which keeps class engaging and fun.
Andrews was selected out of 20 nominees based on how he made a difference for students both by engaging them with the material and by interacting with them outside of the classroom, Ives said. He will be giving his lecture at 6:30 on Thursday in Graham Memorial Room 39.
“I’m going to talk about a particular sporting event,” Andrews said. “And about how that sporting event is a metaphor for life. I’ll tell some stories that revolve around that sporting event and try to find meaning in all of the stories I’m going to be telling.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.