Dr. Robert Brown wins 2006 UNC teaching award


Dr. Robert W. Brown, teacher, scholar and History Department chair, was named the recipient of the 2006 UNC Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence.

Of his many roles at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Dr. Brown values his time in the classroom most.

robert_brown.jpg“For me, teaching is a stimulating and rewarding experience, and there is little that compares with a successful class and with working with students excited about learning,” Dr. Brown said. “Teaching is the single most important aspect of my responsibilities as a faculty member at UNC Pembroke, and it receives the greatest share of my time and energy.”

There have been many outstanding aspects to Dr. Brown’s distinguished 27-year career at UNCP. Twice a recipient of UNCP’s Outstanding Teacher Award, he has served as chair of the History Department for 10 years, and he has a resume full of scholarly work and community, University and professional service.

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Charles Harrington said Dr. Brown is a role model for his students and colleagues.

“Dr. Robert Brown exemplifies the professional qualities obligatory of this award - a steadfast devotion to the education of his students, a staunch defense of his discipline, and commitment to helping the University be the most effective institution possible,” Dr. Harrington said. “I can think of none who are more richly deserving of this award. Robert is simply one of the finest professors we have. I am delighted to see the Board of Governors recognize his contributions to UNCP and the University of North Carolina system.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Thomas Leach said Dr. Brown excels in each of his roles at the University.

“Dr. Robert Brown is an outstanding teacher, an active scholar, and an excellent departmental chair, Dr. Leach said. “He exemplifies the distinguished teacher this award seeks to recognize.”

Established by the UNC Board of Governors in1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching, the awards are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus. The recipients receive a commemorative bronze medallion and a $7,500 cash prize.

Additionally, Dr. Brown will serve as grand marshal for UNCP’s 2006 commencements and other special events. He will deliver the commencement address at the 2006 Winter Commencement.

Dr. Brown said he is honored, and he appreciates the values embedded in the Award for Teaching Excellence.

“As a member of UNC Pembroke faculty, you’ve got to be an effective classroom teacher and a scholar,” he said. “I believe it takes a unique combination of qualities to teach here as a scholar.”

“I am very pleased and honored to be the 2006 recipient of UNC’s Teaching Excellence Award,” Dr. Brown said. “Any award that you are recommended for by your peers is something to be especially proud of.”

Dr. Brown is especially proud of the History Department.

“In the years that I have served as department chair, the department has been very fortunate to have recruited outstanding new faculty members,” he said. “They are excellent colleagues, fine scholars and exceptional teachers.”

Over 27 years, there have been many changes. Dr. Brown noted three major transformations of UNCP’s campus.

“One of the most exciting things that has happened during this period of explosive growth is our student body has become more diverse geographically, and even internationally,” he said. “It has enriched the University.”

“The second biggest change is the computerization of campus,” Dr. Brown said. “Several years ago, I created the History Department’s first home-page during a spring break and had to encode the page manually. Today, our campus is wired, we have access to computers, sophisticated programs and on-line resources, and our students are wired.”

“The third change over the years is something Chancellor Meadors talks about often, and I think he is right,” Dr. Brown said. “It used to be very quiet around here on Friday afternoons. No longer. The nature of the school has changed, and we are more like a bustling traditional university.”

Although he was born in St. Petersburg, Fla., and there were other stops along the way, Dr. Brown considers himself almost a Tar Heel native. He did his undergraduate work at UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a doctorate in modern European history from Duke University.

A period of doctoral research and teaching in France and Germany led to several university posts before joining UNCP’s faculty in 1979. Over the years, his scholarship has evolved toward the study of European art and architecture within a historical context.

One of Dr. Brown’s favorite courses is one he regularly teaches for the University Honors College. “It’s an interdisciplinary course on The Humanistic Tradition,” he said. “It’s a little bit of art, a little bit of architecture and a little bit of literature integrated into an historical framework. I enjoy teaching it.”

Other courses that Dr. Brown regularly teaches range from “Revolution, Liberalism, and Nationalism in Europe, 1789-1914” to “Modern European Cultural History” to “Nazi Germany.” Enjoyable but challenging is a course on the “European City in History.” He also teaches “World Civilizations I,” a general education course. Over the years, Dr. Brown has been able to travel to many of the places in Europe he teaches about, and he believes that the sense of place that travel provides enriches his teaching.

Dr. Brown has served the University in many ways and on many committees. He is currently chair of the Honors Council, past chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and an elected member of the Faculty Senate.

He is a member of several prestigious professional associations: the American Historical Association, the College Art Association and the Association of Historians in North Carolina. Dr. Brown served as editor and book review editor of the Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians from 1991 – 2002. This spring he chaired one session and commented on another at the annual meeting of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era.

He has lectured widely in the region on topics ranging from “Early Christian and Medieval Christian Architecture” to the “History and Architecture of Moscow.”

Dr. Brown serves on the Moore County Chapter of the North Carolina Symphony and serves Emmanuel Episcopal Church as a member of the vestry and the Christian Formation Committee and as a lectionary reader. He lives in Southern Pines, N.C. with his wife, Dr. Monika Brown, a professor in UNCP’s Department of English, Theatre and Languages, and their daughter, Sarah Elisabeth, who attends The O’Neal School.