Mark Mistur, associate dean and associate professor of architecture, and associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received the Trustees Outstanding Teaching Award.
“He is one of the great pedagogical innovators among our faculty, helping Rensselaer students bridge the gap between the academic study of architecture and engineering, and the professional world of practice,” said President Jackson in presenting the award. “As we look forward to the 200th anniversary of our founding in 10 short years, Mark Mistur confirms the value of Amos Eaton’s original vision of a school where young people would be active partners in their own education: collecting data, conducting experiments, finding solutions to challenges, and presenting them to their professors and peers. In fact, Mark Mistur embodies the educational vision that makes Rensselaer so special.”
Following are the comments Mistur delivered upon receiving the award:
“There are awards and there are awards.
None is a more satisfying than the Trustee’s Outstanding Teaching Award. I am honored. Thank you.
“Education is dear to me—not merely to fill vessels with knowledge and equip young intelligent people to perform competently within the status quo; but to be equipped to extend the boundaries of their discipline or profession and even to operate outside the box.
It is a good teacher’s job is to activate, to potentialize and to inspire our students: to know, and to know why; to develop critical perspectives and new capacities, and to understand the consequences of their actions.
We also need to instill confidence that they can contribute in constructive and creative ways in an ever-changing world–for good.
But, it is increasingly difficult to keep the main thing the main thing. There is too much data, too many distractions, too much isolation, too many siloes, too much playing defense, and too little creativity.
I believe deeply in:
• Rensselaer’s founding principle: “Bringing Science to the Common Purposes of Life.”
• Benjamin Franklin Greene’s transformation of the Rensselaer School into a Polytechnic—in his words, into “the true sense of a polytechnic” modeled after the French Imperial Polytechnique—for the creation of a new world,” and in
• Dr. Jackson’s step transformations, the 2024 Plan and “The New Polytechnic”
But for Rensselaer’s graduates to be transformational agents, we need to always remind ourselves that Rensselaer will not merely be measured by what we do here and now—but by what our graduates do in and to the future.
To move into the unknown and unchartered, our graduates need creativity—which is the first cousin of innovation, inventorship, and leadership.
We need to teach it, to instill it, and to unlock it—which is not particularly easy.
I believe that design and design ability are critical to leadership in whatever pursuit, whether engineering, architecture, policy, or research…
Together with instilling confidence, in looking to inspire 21st century leadership we should pursue design ability as a distinguishing characteristic of the Rensselaer graduate—equipped for contribution to and leadership in an ever-changing world.
I hope I can do my part in providing adequate inspiration, and that I will be effective in unlocking each of my students’ fullest potential.
Thank you for the privilege of teaching brilliant, capable young people at Rensselaer”