Political science professor receives 2014 Piper Professor Award


    The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation recently honored TCU political science professor Dr. Ralph Carter with the 2014 Piper Professor Award for Teaching Excellence.

    According to the foundation’s website, the foundation annually awards ten professors in the state of Texas who demonstrate superior teaching at the college level.

    Each award is worth $5,000 and each recipient is selected based on the nominations submitted by each college or university, according to the website.

    Initially, Carter said receiving the award felt strange.

    “Weird,” Carter said. “I can’t imagine that what I do is that different than what my colleagues do. We have a whole bunch of outstanding professors at TCU. I’m kind of dumbfounded.”

    However, Carter said receiving the award was a truly humbling experience.

    “It makes you feel extraordinarily blessed,” Carter said.

    Carter has taught political science at TCU since 1982. He said he teaches the subject because of the impact it can have on a student’s life outside the classroom.

    “It helps you understand the world around you right now,” Carter said. “Politics is all around us. It has to do with your relationships with your family, how you hang out and interact with the people with whom you work.”

    A graduate of Ohio State University, Carter said his undergraduate advisor, John Spurgin, was one of his largest role models. He said Spurgin’s enthusiasm toward teaching inspired him to become a better teacher.

    “He was excited about his subject,” Carter said. “Not a lot of professors were excited about their subjects. They’d show up, they’d teach, and they’d leave.[Spurgin] really stood out because he was excited and he wanted us to be excited.”

    Dr. Manochehr Dorraj, who also teaches political science at TCU, has worked with Carter for 24 years. He said he admires Carter’s dedication and his ability to adjust his teaching style.

    “I’ve always appreciated [Dr. Carter’s] pursuit of new ways to improve his teaching,” Dorraj said. “I also appreciate his commitment to teaching and how serious he takes it. He’s also committed to our students.”

    To Carter, teaching excellence means exceeding expectations and helping students learn lessons that can be applied outside of class.

    “It means getting the student to understand something about the way the world works,” Carter said. “You impart something to them that helps them right now, but hopefully helps them down the road.”