October 12, 2012

Tidwell receives UM’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award

MONTEVALLO— Cynthia P. Tidwell, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Montevallo, has received the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award for 2012. Tidwell, an alumna of UM, was recognized at the university’s Founders’ Day convocation, held Oct. 11 in Palmer Hall.

Tidwell joined the faculty at Montevallo in 2000, teaching mathematics and chemistry. She is active in the university community, serving on numerous committees and councils. Currently, she is a co-coordinator of undergraduate research at UM, chairs the
Admissions Committee and advises the Chemistry Club.

Tidwell has authored and co-authored several published articles and has presented at numerous meetings of the American Chemical Society and other scientific organizations. She has received many honors and fellowships including the University of Montevallo Committee on Undergraduate Research (UMCUR) Distinguished Faculty Mentor, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers (both eighth and ninth editions) and was named “Favorite Faculty Member” by several UM athletic teams.

Said one nominator, “When you think of Cindy, ‘teacher’ is a word that always comes to mind. She is consistently rated as one of the top professors in the department, and the students, time and again, evaluate her as ‘excellent.’ I believe her strongest attribute is her enthusiasm for teaching. She is constantly counseling students on career paths and providing them with guidance and letters of recommendation. She can tell you the aspirations of all her students in her class.”

He continued, “Cindy resurrected the Chemistry Club because she felt the need for students to connect with the department and each other. Under her leadership, the club has grown in size and service to the community.”

One of Tidwell’s students wrote, “It can be argued that the most important tool she offers as an educator is her availability. In addition to frequent open-door office hours, she was never hesitant to schedule individual or group study sessions for students. In a profession where weekends are precious time to savor, she has even offered her ‘free’ time to students on some Sunday afternoons.”

She continued, “Dr. Tidwell’s commitment to her students included paying attention to them as individuals. (She) has provided thoughtful advice to students, at their request, even though she was not officially designated as their adviser.”

A strong advocate for undergraduate research, she advises a number of students in their research projects and encourages students to take part in undergraduate research, even if they are not chemistry majors.

Speaking to Tidwell’s passion for teaching and her concern for all students, a nominator said, “Her enthusiasm and excitement in teaching increase students’ motivation in learning chemistry, providing a lively and enjoyable learning environment. Dr. Tidwell’s teaching style not only dissolved students’ fear for chemistry, but also made chemistry an interesting and attractive subject. To her, seeing all the students walking out of the classroom looking confident and accomplished was the most rewarding part of being a professor.”

Tidwell earned the B.S. degree from the University of Montevallo in 1994 and the Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in 2001.