Center for Excellence in Teaching

 

Dr. Michael Bryant, winner of the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award, is no stranger to CSU. Not only has he been a professor in the Religion Department since August 2008, but he was also an undergraduate here from 1991-1995. After earning a bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in Music, Bryant attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he received his Masters of Divinity, and then his PhD in New Testament.

In terms of teaching style, Bryant prefers the traditional lecture, though he thinks it is important to vary method and approach to include group discussion. Whatever the approach, Bryant believes in following the basics of good communication which include simplicity, clarity, a well-structured outline or format, relevance, adjustment, and hard work. Bryant says, “Those who communicate well work hard at trying to communicate well; they spend a lot of time by themselves studying and preparing. It’s not glamorous, but it’s absolutely necessary for good communication.”

Many teachers, both good and bad, have influenced Dr. Bryant.   In graduate school, Dr. Andreas Köstenberger, with his depth of knowledge, scholarly rigor, and hard work, made the biggest impression. During Bryant’s studies at CSU, Dr. Tom Guerry’s example of respect and graciousness impacted him. At Lexington High School in South Carolina, Bryant’s English teacher, Mrs. Sharpe, had the ability to motivate students to do their best; she even inspired Bryant to read Moby Dick, by Melville, in its entirety.

However, not all teachers set a positive example; poor teachers (from elementary school through his doctoral studies) have also affected Bryant. Teachers who provided bad models of teaching wasted class time, demonstrated arrogance, berated students, or showed a lack of interest in the needs or concerns of their pupils. Bryant seeks to avoid their negative examples.

In addition to his educational experience, Dr. Bryant also has a background in the ministry. He served as a pastor in a Baptist church near Edenton, NC for nearly eight years. Bryant feels fortunate that he has the opportunity to teach “the most important book ever written”: “People have always been interested in the Bible and they always will be. It’s a fascinating book that gives wisdom, guidance, comfort, correction, and purpose, among other things. It explains the way of salvation. It addresses the eternal questions of life. It makes clear the character and work of Christ. There is no other book like it.” 

In his free time, Bryant likes to read, particularly history and biography: “I love a good story. Whether from history or literature—I am fascinated by the experiences of others—their struggles, their failures, their triumphs.” Bryant’s favorite stories include that of Daniel Boone’s quick thinking and courage in 1776 when he rescued his daughter Jemima and two other girls from their Indian captors, General Washington’s persistence and determination during the American Revolution, the story of David’s Livingstone’s initial rejection from missionary service after he forgot his sermon and ran out of the church in complete humiliation, and Grant’s repeated attempts to serve in the Union army at the start of the Civil War.

When not reading, he enjoys traveling, especially to historical sites, listening to good music, and spending time with his wife, Amy, and his four children: Abigail (age 12), Joseph (age 10), Lydia (age 9), and Anna (age 6).

 


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