For the second consecutive year, the Plainsman’s Choice award for Best Professor goes to Matt Kearley, an instructor and coordinator for the Department of Biological Sciences. Kearley won the honor with 35.3% of the vote, edging out Ric Smith, Terri Knight and Jim McKelly.
As one of the rare professors who earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Auburn, Kearley had an extra bit of appreciation for the recognition from students, who he claimed are “fantastic” and make his job the “best job in the world.”
“It's a great honor,” Kearley said. “Anytime that you're recognized by the students, that is something that means a lot to me personally because obviously my whole goal here is that those students will leave my class with something valuable, and so anytime that you're even being mentioned or something like that, it really means a great deal to me.”
Kearley has virtually seen it all. While a graduate student, he served as both a teaching assistant and research assistant, and it was his experiences in the classroom that made him fall in love with teaching to the point where he offered to help teach classes for free.
Now, he has been a faculty member for more than 22 years and is still going strong.
“I love being able to meet with the students outside of class when they have questions and their enthusiasm about about life in general, and I'm just so fortunate to be here because what I found is that if you invest your your time and your energy and your effort into these students, it's it's always reciprocated,” Kearley said. “That's a very special thing.”
As one of Auburn’s most beloved professors, Kearley shared a piece of advice for students, especially those that will never take courses taught by him.
“This is this is your one time to go through college, so make the most of it,” Kearley said. “You've got an army of people that are invested in you getting the most out of your college experience. Reach out to your professors, use their office hours, go if you have questions.”
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.
Daniel Schmidt, senior in journalism, is the assistant news editor for the Auburn Plainsman.