Dr. Ahrar Ahmad, Black Hills State University political science professor, was named South Dakota Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Ahmad, who is currently doing research as a senior Fulbright Scholar in Bangladesh, received the prestigious award today. Ahmad has been a member of the faculty at BHSU since 1992.
The U.S. Professors of the Year Program salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country—those who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives and careers of students. Sponsored by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, it is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
The awards focus attention on excellence in undergraduate teaching and provide models to which others can aspire. Award officials note that it is through the art of teaching, the force of their knowledge, and the passion of their convictions that teachers can inspire students to reach beyond the ordinar.
Ahmad is an epithet for this teaching award as evidenced by his strong support from students, alumni, and fellow professors. Ahmad was chosen last year by his peers to receive the annual BHSU Distinguished Faculty Award.
Dr. Kay Schallenkamp, president of BHSU, expressed her gratitude and appreciation of Ahmad’s many accomplishments and this most recent recognition.
“Dr. Ahrar Ahmad is well deserving of this prestigious award,” Schallenkamp says. “We are fortunate to have Dr. Ahmad Ahrar on our faculty. Students speak very highly him and many say his influence was the impetus for greater goals and an enhanced view of the world. His classroom teaching and his unending support and encouragement have truly transformed students’ lives.”
Students again and again praise Ahmad’s dedication, commitment, on-going encouragement, and unending mission to seek a greater understanding of people and the world.
“Dr. Ahmad's knowledge of global political affairs is a priceless asset to the students he has mentored, including myself. What I've learned from him will immensely help me as I work toward earning my master’s degree,” says Guy R. Gregory, who is now a graduate student.
Angelia (Johnston) Schultz, who is currently an intelligence analyst for a corporation in the Washington, D.C. metro area, says that Ahmad cannot be defined as simply a teacher or a friend because he is so much more.
“Truly above all else, Dr. Ahmad is an example of how to be the absolute finest human being in spite of the impediments of today’s paradoxical world. I could write a book on what a fine man he is, and perhaps I will.”
Theresa Mutter, a recent BHSU graduate who is currently a graduate student at the University of Southern California, says Dr. Ahmad has an unending desire to see his students succeed. Mutter says Ahmad’s mentorship changed her outlook and encouraged her to pursue other options. Mutter recently completed an internship with the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and is planning to work for non-governmental development and relief agencies. In addition, during winter break, she is going to Guatemala to build houses with Habitat for Humanity International.
“Dr. Ahrar Ahmad is an amazing teacher and friend. What has and always will strike me most about Dr. Ahmad, is his incredible love and passion for teaching and seeing his students succeed.”
In addition to his outstanding work with students, Ahmad is engaged in research projects and plays a vital role in the Chiesman Foundation for Democracy. Ahmad is actively involved in various university and community events and is a mentor and valued advisor to students. Ahmad has been selected by students as “Homecoming Dad” on three different occasions. He is also frequently chosen for student sponsored panel discussions. Ahmad’s contributions to the national and world society are evident in his many publications, invitations to present keynote lectures and presentations, as well as his on-campus activities related to awareness and understanding of international affairs, world religions, and world hunger.
Ahmad, who was unable to attend the recognition reception, is currently doing research on Islam in South Asia and is engaged in teaching and curricular development with the Independent University in Bangladesh.
Ever humble, Ahmad says his success is rooted in the success of his students.
"Please remember that teachers are only as good as the students allow them to be. I have been so fortunate in having students (my "kids") that I am proud of, and thankful for,” Ahmad says. “Any recognition I may receive really belongs to them."
More student quotes:
Another student, Nicole (Nachtigal) Emerson, who is currently an associate attorney with Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun in Sioux Falls, says that Ahmad is one of her all-time favorite professors and mentors.
“Ahrar both challenged and supported his students. He encouraged us to think outside of the box and consider a more worldly view. Ahrar goes above and beyond to support his students and continues to encourage them after they leave BHSU.”
Lee Howard, 2004 BHSU graduate who is now working as a creative writer after spending time in Egypt where he taught high school students English and American literature, says Ahmad is “quite simply the most conscientious, student-oriented, and dedicated professor I’ve been taught by.”
Kelly McKay-Semmler, a BHSU graduate who is now a doctoral student at the University of Oklahoma, says Ahmad’s influence reaches far outside the classroom.
“Dr. Ahmad is the consummate teacher in that he offers his students insight on how to know and care about the world and people in it. I am forever a devoted fan of his.”
Leslie Bennett, a former BHSU student, says Ahmad is the most talented, brilliant professor she has ever encountered.
“I received my B.S. from Cornell University, and I quite simply never came across a professor with as much experience, compassion, and depth of knowledge as Professor Ahmad. Further, Professor Ahmad exhibits his brilliance in the most humble and egalitarian way. He makes each of his students feel individually heard, valued, and intelligent in giving them a voice in his class.”
Mary H. Burd, who graduated from BHSU with a political science major in 1998 and is currently an attorney at Burd Law Office, says she greatly values her education experience at BHSU and specifically with Dr. Ahmad.
“Most importantly, I took away with me some very valuable knowledge that came from more than just instruction. It comes from a true love and belief in what you do. Dr. Ahmad was (and is) an inspiration to me. He loves what he does; has a true regard and interest in his students, both present and past, as well as always looking into the future. Professionally, I believe that he instilled in me a deeper understanding into the "human condition.”
Chandra L. Lesmeister, who is currently a senior at BHSU majoring in political science with a minor in economics and mathematics, says Dr. Ahmad is by far the most enlightening professor she has ever studied with.
“His care and compassion shows in his teaching and in the success of his students. If it wasn't for him, I would not be where I am today. He is my teacher, mentor, friend and idol,” Lesmeister says.
About Carnegie: Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center with a primary mission "to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of the teacher and the cause of higher education." The improvement of teaching and learning is central to all of the work of the Foundation.
About CASE: The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is one of the largest international associations of education institutions, serving more than 3,200 universities, colleges, schools and related organizations in 55 countries. CASE is the leading resource for professional development, information and standards in the fields of education fund raising, communications and alumni relations.