Design professor wins HOPE teaching honor from KU students

Kansas University professor of design Philip Hofstra is congratulated after being announced as the 2012 HOPE Award recipient during a break in action from Saturday night's football game at Memorial Stadium. Recipients of the HOPE Award, which stands for Honor for an Outstanding Progressive Educator, are nominated by students from the senior class to recognize excellence in teaching.

Other finalists

Other finalists for the 2012 KU HOPE Award, introduced on the field at Saturday’s KU football game:

• Gerald Mikkelson, professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies

• Victor Frost, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science

• Michael Shaw, associate professor of classics

• Jeanne Klein, associate professor of theatre

It’s not a huge volume of students who pass through Phillip Hofstra’s courses.

But the students he works with, he works with closely.

That’s why Hofstra, a professor of design at Kansas University, gave the credit for his Honor for an Outstanding Progressive Educator Award to the School of Architecture, Design and Planning in which he teaches.

He said it’s the school’s philosophy of studio-based classes, where instructors work with the same small group of students for up to 12 hours per week, that allows all of its instructors to connect with students.

“I think of it as a reflection on the student-centric culture of teaching that exists in architecture and design and planning in the school here,” Hofstra said of his HOPE Award, which he received during the KU football game Saturday.

The HOPE Award, unique among honors at KU, comes solely from students. Since it was established by the Class of 1959, it’s been awarded by the senior class to one instructor each year to recognize excellent teaching.

The KU Board of Class Officers selects the HOPE winner. KU senior Ellen Frizzell, the vice president of that group, said it received about 15 nominations for the award from the student body.

The group then narrowed the pool down to five finalists and interviewed each for 20 minutes, along with a visit to each one’s classroom.

Hofstra teaches studio courses in both design and architecture, as well as seminar and professional-practice courses.

He joined the KU faculty in 1987, and from 1997 to 2000 he served as associate dean of the old School of Fine Arts.

He also worked for the Kansas City, Mo., architecture firm HOK Sport from 2001 to 2011, during which time he also left the KU faculty and earned a doctorate in American studies from KU. He returned as a professor in 2010.

As the winner of the HOPE Award, Hofstra will receive a monetary award and have his name etched on a plaque that hangs in the Kansas Union.

To receive such an honor from students was humbling, Hofstra said.

“I can’t even begin to say how delighted, but how surprised, I am by this,” Hofstra said.