Brian Komei Dempster (above) and Ronald Sundstrom (below) were recognized as USF distinguished teachers for 2009-10.
Brian Komei Dempster and Ronald Sundstrom, associate
professor of rhetoric and composition and associate professor of philosophy
respectively, have been named co-winners of the University of San Francisco Distinguished Teaching Award.
Dempster and Sundstrom were recently honored for their
dedication to students, regularly spending time outside the classroom as
mentors, providing extensive comments on assignments, and, in some cases,
allowing unlimited revisions on papers as a means to drive student improvement.
Since 2002, Dempster has been a member of the faculty
committee and an editor for Writing for the Real World, a multidiscipline essay anthology written by USF
students, a number of whom come out of his classes.
“Writing for the Real World is integral to helping students envision a deeper aim for their
writing: to inform and persuade others, and even move an audience to take action,”
By offering multiple writing topics for most class
assignments and peer review editing, he’s able inspire students to take
responsibility for their learning and pursue what they’re most passionate
about, Dempster said.
Dempster has also used his teaching skills outside the
classroom in service to the Bay Area community by teaching writing to Japanese
Americans in California, Oregon, and Washington who were interned in
concentration camps during World War II and then editing a first-person
anthology of their essays published in 2001, From Our Side of the Fence.
Sundstrom (right), whose student teacher evaluations place him among
the highest ranked professors at USF during the past six years, is able to open
windows on worlds that some students aren’t familiar with in classes such as
Ethics and Public Policy and Human Person: Race Issues.
“The basic principle at stake in all of (these courses) is
the capacity of a multi-racial polity to deploy public reason and democratic
disagreement in the service of public policy and the common good,” Sundstrom
Not only are Sundstrom’s students challenged by difficult
topics, but his lesson are designed so that students must work together to
devise a question related to the assigned readings, come to a consensus on an
answer to the question to present to classmates, and, then, individually
address and analyze in writing their group’s collective answer.
“This leads students both to build consensus around a
controversial question and to understand their peer’s divergence on the topic,”
The approach promotes the idea among students that
the focus should be on public reason, dialogue among citizens, and the value of
striving for a common good, rather than taking a hard and fast position on a
controversial topic, Sundstrom said.