In recognition of his dedication to excellence in teaching, Thomas Blum, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and computer science at La Salle University, was named the recipient of the 2013 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University’s recent Commencement ceremony.
The award, created through a grant from the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, has been awarded annually to a full-time faculty member since 1961. Faculty members and graduate and undergraduate students nominate professors, and then the recipient is selected by a committee that includes representatives from the faculty, student body, and administration.
In presenting the award, La Salle Provost Joseph Marbach, Ph.D., read some of the descriptions of Blum offered by those who nominated him: “The best teacher I have ever had”; “An amazing teacher who strives for you to become the best student you can be through hard work and his passion for teaching”; “One of the most dedicated, enthusiastic faculty members I have known in my tenure at La Salle”; and “A master teacher who embodies what it means to be a Lasallian educator.”
Blum, who has taught at La Salle since 1998, teaches physics and many computer science courses, including computing and problem solving; Java; database management systems; visual basic programming; communication networks and cooperative processes; computer architecture and hardware; and client support systems.
Blum said that what he likes about teaching is “getting students interested in the material and seeing them understand the material.”
Originally from Pottsville, Pa., Blum graduated from La Salle summa cum laude in 1985 with a degree in physics. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in physics at the University of Rochester. He then completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Manchester in England, and the University of Virginia.
But Blum said he decided not to work at a large research university, preferring to find a position “at a school like La Salle.”
In the summer of 1998, he received a call from one of his La Salle professors, Stephen Longo, asking him if he could teach a computer language course for that fall. He accepted the position on a one-year appointment, and he later became a full-time faculty member.
“Tom makes himself available to all students of the University, regardless of the course, program, teacher, or discipline,” said Margaret McCoey, Blum’s colleague in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. “He has been valuable to all of the education majors—secondary, elementary, and special education—as they prepare their senior portfolios. For the computer science and information technology students, Tom has been diligent in assisting with résumé reviews, networking opportunities, and follow-up on student and graduate outcomes.”
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values.