Rollins Professor Dr. Thomas Moore was recently named Florida’s 2013 U.S. Professor of the Year, and his students understand why.
Recently, Rollins College was ranked number 8 on RateMyProfessors.com due to the superior quality of its faculty. Now Dr. Thomas Moore, professor in the Physics department, was named the Florida winner of the 2013 U.S. Professors of the Year award. The award is sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and focuses on the following criteria: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former students.
Moore grew up in Florida and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Stetson University. “I always had a lifelong passion for physics,” he said. After graduation, he spent twenty-one years in the army, first as a commander during the height of the Cold War, and then working behind the scenes with his physics background. He taught science courses at West Point Academy where he first realized his love for teaching. He decided to pursue a Masters at the Naval Point Academy and PhD at the University of Rochester, and afterwards found a position at Rollins College, where he has been a professor for fifteen years. “I specifically looked for a position where I could do research with undergraduates,” he says. “It’s where you can make a difference.” Moore has published many papers with students as co-collaborators. He also adds that teaching at a large research university would “not nearly be as much fun. It’s more important to have fun than to have fame or fortune.”
Students who have had the privilege of working with Moore start to share his enthusiasm for physics. “Over the summer we focused on the piano and why it sounds the way it does, specifically looking at the longitudinal waves in the piano strings,” explains Michelle Rokni ’16. “Having the opportunity to do research with Dr. Moore is amazing. He is extremely knowledgeable and at the same time able to explain concepts in a way that makes sense. I am so glad that I get to work with one of the best everyday.” Another student, Nikki Etchenique ’15, adds, “Dr. Moore is one of the most passionate professors I’ve ever had; he cares more about his students learning the material rather than just working for an acceptable grade and pushes us further than we knew we could go. He never answers a question with an answer, only ever with more questions.”
I’m clearly not the best professor at Rollins or in Florida, but all I did was take advantage of the opportunities Rollins gives me. This award is not really about me, but about Rollins.
Moore focuses on the physics of musical instruments, and often collaborates with other departments on campus. Last year, he collaborated with the art and music departments for an Honors class where students made their own instruments. Moore called the experience “great, a lot of work but it’s always a lot of fun to collaborate outside of your field.” Moore also has an ongoing collaboration with the Vienna School of Music in Austria.
Moore was also one of the main faculty members that pushed Rollins to move forward with renovating the Bush building, and he contributed to its new design. He called the experience “very personal” and he is happy with the results, and what’s still left to come.
After years of accomplishments in his field, Moore remains humble and true to the values that made him want to come to a small undergraduate liberal arts school in the first place.
Despite being “extremely honored” by the award, Moore emphasizes that he believes most professors at Rollins deserve similar titles. “I’m clearly not the best professor at Rollins or in Florida,” he modestly admits, “but all I did was take advantage of the opportunities Rollins gives me. This award is not really about me, but about Rollins.”