2011 Faculty Awards: Q&A with Medwick Byrd

April 26, 2011
By Bill Krueger

med-byrd-photoThe Alumni Association will honor 18 NC State professors on May 5 for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.

Today we’re visiting with Medwick Byrd, an assistant professor in forest biomaterials and the undergraduate coordinator for the Paper Science and Engineering program. Byrd is one of six faculty members recognized this year as Alumni Association Distinguished Undergraduate Professors.

What is the key to being a successful teacher? You have to respect your students, while at the same time setting high expectations for them. Most of all, however, is that you have to WANT to be in the classroom, and you have to let your joy of teaching permeate everything that you do in the classroom and out of it.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? Two things, actually. Being around students every day and being exposed to their infectious energy and zest for life keeps me feeling vibrant. The second thing is knowing that, every day, I have the opportunity to have a direct and positive influence on a young person’s life.

Are there any particular professors or teachers who inspired you to become a teacher? I am actually a product of the program that I now teach in … and even back then, 30 years ago, it was evident that the pulp and paper faculty truly cared about my success and truly wanted me to learn this amazing discipline. Their attention and care, in the middle of a huge campus, really made big impression on me.

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