Mark Blyth, an assistant professor of political science, likes to keep his international political economics students laughing--not too much of a stretch, considering that he is both a former stand-up comedian and musician. For six years, Blyth has blended humor and a thick Scottish accent to engage Johns Hopkins undergraduates. Now, in recognition of his appeal to students, Blyth has been honored by the graduating class of 2003 with the George E. Owen Teaching Award.
"There are several teaching awards at Hopkins, and it's an honor to receive any of them," Blyth said. "But to receive the one from the graduating class is especially heartwarming."
Awarded annually for outstanding teaching and devotion to undergraduates, the George E. Owen Teaching Award was established by the 1982 Student Council to honor the then dean of the Homewood faculties. This year, the senior class officers selected Blyth, one of about 10 faculty members nominated by students, due to his eagerness to work with undergraduates.
"We looked for professors who were engaging, approachable and [who] work with undergraduates," said Ravi Kavasery, senior class president. "Professor Blyth really goes out of his way to make sure that undergraduates enjoy their experience at Hopkins and enjoy his class."
Blyth's openness to undergraduates and his ability to engage a broad range of students figured into the decision, said senior class representative Omer Taviloglu. "Even engineering students take his class," he said.
Before Blyth came to Johns Hopkins in 1997, he taught
the core curriculum at Columbia University from 1994 to
1997 while earning his doctorate.