When asked about the most rewarding aspects of teaching, Dana D’Angelo, MBA ’92, clinical professor of general business, talks about the constant learning and growing that comes with each new class of students. For David Becher, PhD, Dean’s Industry Fellow and professor of finance, it’s the messages from former students about financial news and market happenings that show they’re still thinking about the big-picture questions long after his course has ended.
Reflections like these sprang to mind for these two longtime LeBow faculty members upon learning they had received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation for the 2019-20 academic year. To be considered for the award, given annually by Drexel’s Office of the Provost, D’Angelo and Becher each submitted letters of recommendation, course syllabi, student evaluations from recent classes and a personal statement on their teaching.
D’Angelo, a faculty member since 1990, says that she’d aspired to the Lindback Award, applying this year in her 30th teaching at LeBow. She had previously received the Barbara Hornum Teaching Award in 2011.
“It had been a goal for me to be worthy of winning the Lindback Award,” she says. “It was also a way of celebrating my long-term relationship at Drexel.”
D’Angelo primarily teaches undergraduates, with an emphasis on Foundations of Business classes for first-year students, including the Global Learning Community’s Global Classroom program. She also regularly leads Intensive Courses Abroad and teaches business consulting courses and Accounting for Professionals, an accounting course for non-business majors.
Because so much of her teaching is focused on first-year students, D’Angelo feels a special responsibility for guiding them from the first days of their college experience.
“When you’re teaching first-year students, you’re more than just the expert on the subject material you’re teaching,” she says. “You’re serving as a mentor, an advisor and a role model, and you’re helping each student become the person that is going to influence the world for the next 60 years.”
Becher, a faculty member since 2003, teaches courses in corporate finance, corporate governance and international finance in LeBow’s undergraduate, graduate and Executive MBA programs, and is one of the core faculty members in LeBow’s Center for Corporate and Executive Education.
He also regularly advises PhD candidates in finance and serves as a mentor to first-year students in the Students Tackling Advanced Research (STAR) Scholar program, for which he was recognized as an Outstanding Mentor in 2019.
Becher finds that his work with each level of students is mutually reinforcing; he might share insights from executives in an MBA course on corporate governance, for example, or findings from a PhD candidate or STAR scholar’s research with an executive audience. These connections are possible due to the breadth of his teaching, he notes, and they’re driven by his curiosity and his desire to see problems from all angles.
“I always ask, ‘Why?’,” he says. “If you can understand the ‘why’ — why you’re doing what you’re doing, or what the bigger picture is — that’s much more important than memorizing a definition or getting the correct numerical answer.”
When leading courses for executives at companies like Campbell Soup Company and Vanguard, Becher also taps into on-the-job perspectives from business leaders that, in turn, fuel his classroom discussions with undergraduate and master’s students.
“It’s not just a bunch of anecdotes about what companies are doing,” he says. “It’s backed up by detailed research and insights from real companies that show how certain concepts apply and why they matter.”
With this award, Becher and D’Angelo each receive $4,000 funded by the Lindback Foundation. They were recognized along with two other Drexel faculty: Amy Throckmorton, PhD, associate professor and director of the BioCirc Research Laboratory in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems; and Scott Warnock, PhD, associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences.