Answering the Big Questions Favorite Local Professors Open College Students' Eyes

By Stevens, Susan | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 21, 2001 | Go to article overview

Answering the Big Questions Favorite Local Professors Open College Students' Eyes


Stevens, Susan, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Susan Stevens Daily Herald Staff Writer

On every college campus, a few professors collect fans among students based on the power of their teaching.

Students line up to take their courses, and their names become known as must-have elements in a student's transcript.

Here's a look at some of the most popular professors in DuPage County.

Freyda Libman

Age: 52

Associate Professor of English, College of DuPage

Hometown: Naperville

Freyda Libman has always been in love with words.

At College of DuPage, she tries to give her students a view of the world through the eyes of a poet.

"I think poetry is a way to record our humanity, our triumphs and our tragedies," she says. "These are the things I live by, so if it comes out as enthusiasm, it's just who I am."

Libman has taught at COD for 26 years, earning the college's top award this year for excellence in the classroom.

Besides poetry, composition and literature courses, Libman teaches a radio-based course on poetry featuring readings from celebrated poets. She contributed poems to a 1999 anthology, "The Thing About Love Is...."

With an anthropology professor, Libman teaches a course on the literature of oppressed peoples. Her most powerful course, and where Libman focuses her research, is one that looks at the literature of the Holocaust and examines the power of such writings to prevent future genocides.

But it's not the subject matter that drives her love of teaching.

"It's the ongoing dialogue with human beings who are open to the wonders of education," Libman says. "It's the alchemy of students and subject. It's always about human beings and their voices."

Siaw-Peng Wan

Age: 33

Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Elmhurst College

Hometown: Chicago

As a child, Siaw-Peng Wan wanted to grow up to be an investment banker. But when he got a taste of the classroom, he "just fell in love with teaching."

For the past six years Wan has taught classes in corporate finance, banking and investments at Elmhurst College, earning awards for excellence in teaching and academic advising.

"I like the contact with students - not standing up lecturing - but getting involved with the students' intellectual development," Wan says.

Wan taught himself Web design and created a site for his entire department, where he and other professors post lecture notes, class instructions and links to articles and reference sites.

It's tough to find up-to-date textbooks covering his course material, Wan says, and the Web site makes the class more accessible to his students.

In corporate finance, there is seldom one right answer. Getting students to focus instead on the process of finding solutions is Wan's primary goal.

"We fail to be good teachers if we get in the classroom and say I am the authority in this area, only my opinion counts, yours don't," he says. "The truth is, we can only know so much. …

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