New Kensington’s Allen Larson named a 2015 Penn State Teaching Fellow

April 22, 2015

UPPER BURRELL, Pa. -- Allen Larson, associate professor of communications at Penn State New Kensington, received the Alumni/Student Award for Excellence in Teaching and has been named a 2015 Penn State Teaching Fellow by the Penn State Alumni Association.

The alumni association, in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate governing bodies, established the award in 1988. It honors distinguished teaching and provides encouragement and incentive for excellence in teaching. Recipients are expected to share their talents and expertise with others throughout the University during the year following the award presentation. Jane Charlton, professor of astronomy and astrophysics in the Eberly College of Science, and Richard Doyle, Liberal Arts Research Professor of English in the College of the Liberal Arts, also were honored April 15 at the ceremony for teaching fellows at University Park.

"We are so proud of Allen and pleased to see his teaching excellence recognized by the University,” said Andrea Adolph, director of academic affairs at the New Kensington campus. ”In the manner of a master teacher, he is dedicated to continually improving and refining his teaching techniques, and he often puts himself in the role of student, learning new technologies and skills that allow him to pass on cutting-edge approaches to his students. The students recognize this, and the campus benefits greatly from his engagement with his subject matter and his students' learning."

Larson, who joined the campus faculty in 2004, serves as coordinator of the campus’ digital communications lab and as co-coordinator of the Communications program. He teaches courses in mass media, cinema, television production, public relations, speech and writing. Larson engages his students, so they take an active approach to the learning process.

“Students need to be witnesses,” said Larson, who resides in Lawrenceville, a Pittsburgh neighborhood. “They need to be specifically seen and heard as the individual learners and thinkers that they are in order to experience their education as meaningful.”

In his Cinema Art class, a general survey course, his students are tasked with a group project to create a short film from scripting to final editing, using what they learned in the film appreciation portion of the course. According to Larson, this is where "a genuine understanding of the course materials takes hold."

One student said Larson’s methods “demonstrated his mastery of the subject matter and his ability to effectively communicate the subject matter in a way that was both interesting and engaging.”

A native of Washington, D.C., Larson earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland, a master’s degree at Syracuse University and a doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to teaching, he worked in various capacities as a communications professional. His published research focuses on the political economy of media institutions and popular culture. Larson’s research on television and film appears in numerous university press anthologies. A book on stardom, gender and labor is forthcoming from Duke University Press. He has been the recipient of awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and National Association of Television.

Larson, the 2008 recipient of the campus’ Excellence in Teaching award, is the second consecutive Teaching Fellow from the New Kensington campus. Jennifer Wood, associate professor of communication arts and sciences, earned the honor a year ago.

"Our campus is already rather unique in its ratio of faculty to award winners, but this award makes our communications program truly unique. To have two consecutive award recipients from one academic program is odds defying, and it is a great illustration of the strengths that this program has to offer through the superb teaching of these and all of our faculty in the communications major at Penn State New Kensington," remarked Adolph.

For more about the Penn State New Kensington Communications program, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Academics/Degrees/communications_overview.htm

Penn State New Kensington Faculty
Past University Award Winners

2015
Allen Larson, associate professor of communications
Alumni/Student Award for Excellence in Teaching and Penn State Teaching Fellow

2014
Jennifer Wood, associate professor of communication arts and sciences
Alumni/Student Award for Excellence in Teaching and Penn State Teaching Fellow

2011
Maria Franco de Gomez, instructor in Spanish,
Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching

2009
David Wells, associate professor of mathematics,
Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching

2007
Javier Gomez-Calderon, professor of mathematics,
Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching

2005
K. Robert Bridges, associate professor of psychology,
Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching

2004
Linda Shoop, associate professor emeritus of education,
Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching

2003
William Hamilton, assistant professor of biology,
Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching

(Media Contacts)

Bill Woodard

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Last Updated April 23, 2015