Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Terri Tomaszek

Positive Impact on Classroom:  As a Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Terri Tomaszek has personified teaching excellence at Davenport for more than 45 years. Her distinguished career encompasses three concentrations: academic assessment, international education, and service learning. Among her most influential contributions to Davenport’s instructional culture was the Success System (now called the Excellence System)—a composite of cross-professional attributes and competencies integrated throughout all programs and courses. For decades, the Excellence System has been the pedagogical and philosophical model of a Davenport education.

Range of Impact: Dr. Tomaszek also instigated and developed a thriving international culture on campus. As Davenport’s first Fulbright Scholar, she created the Study Abroad China Program, which subsequently grew to include other countries. Dr. Tomaszek’s signature Global Perspectives class expanded into a suite of courses focused on world cultures.

“Terri’s contributions to the vision and success of the DEI Council are invaluable. Her knowledge of DU, commitment to seeing the work through to the end and sincere passion for employee, student and organizational development helped to position the Council as an authentic force for affecting positive change,” according to Dr. Rhae-Ann Booker, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion. “As the Council co-chair, she took no short cuts. Terri got directly involved in the large and small details. Her work ethic, DEI commitment and consistent compassion should be emulated by all.”

Equally respected by her students and her colleagues, Dr. Tomaszek has been honored with awards both within and outside the University.  Her mentorship and collegiality has been priceless as evidenced by the following quotes from her peers:

Neil Shepard (faculty): “Terri has changed the lives of countless DU students over the years. But those of us who have had the great privilege to work with her have had our lives changed as well. She has always, without fail, been there for me. Her skills as an educator, her knowledge, her commitment, her sense of humor, and her kindness have made such a positive impact on all of us. I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to work with her and learn from her. I think great teachers can change your life for the better.  And Terri is a truly great teacher.”

Rhae-Ann Booker (Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion): “During a conversation with Terri, I shared that my mother is a Davenport College graduate. In response, Terri stated, “Oh, What is her name?” which I thought was an odd question because my mom had attended DU in the 60s. I tried to assure Terri that it was unlikely she would know my mom and she graciously responded that she may have had my mom as a student. After researching a bit, we learned that my mom and Terri had only missed each other by two years. We both laughed and I knew from that day on what an absolute honor it would be to work closely with Terri on the DEI Council.”

From Barb Craft (Faculty): “I am sure there is nothing unique about what I’ll miss when Terri retires. Aside from the companionship and support of an outstanding educator and colleague, the University and our community will lose a tremendous repository of institutional history. We need to value new people and new ideas but we need to treasure our history. She knows what we have tried, what worked well and what we should never attempt again and why. We can’t replace that!”

From Ron Draayer (Faculty): “What has always impressed me about Terri Tomaszek is her professionalism. Even if there were disagreements, Terri always provided a calm voice to a discussion and had excellent insights. I don’t think I have ever seen Terri rattled or become unglued. Terri always finds a way to get people to consider other viewpoints and work toward solutions. I have tremendous respect for Terri Tomaszek and will miss her greatly as a colleague and friend.”

Colleen Coughlin (Faculty): “We should all aim to be like Terri Tomaszek ….she talks the talk and walks the walk. She has a lifetime of service – to Davenport, her faculty colleagues, staff at every level and most importantly our students. Her commitment includes providing students with a quality education, aimed at enriching their lives through diversity, experiential education, study abroad, Michigan reads… I could go on and on. Nancy Astor once said ‘Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer–into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.’ You could not find a better example of a professor doing exactly this!”

Recognition:  A scholarship has been started to continue the “good” that Dr. Tomaszek has begun.


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