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    Chemistry Teacher Receives Corson Award for Teaching Excellence

    Jun 23, 2011

    “Without overwhelming us, he lured us into the magic of chemistry with his relaxed teaching style, funny takes, and a Chilean accent to top it off.”

    Dr. Silvio RodriguezThe jump from high school to collegiate academia is often rough for first year college students, and it takes a special kind of professor to make that transition less traumatic for his or her students. Dr. Silvio Rodriguez, of the Chemistry department, is one such professor, and he was honored this year with the Steven E. Corson Award. This award distinguishes professors for teaching excellence of freshmen students, making Dr. Rodriguez a worthy recipient.

    Chemistry 25, a staple class for science students, is referred to as a "weeder" class—designed to "weed" out weaker, unready students before the harder upper division coursework. However, Dr. Rodriguez looks at this introductory course from a different perspective, and adjusts his teaching style in order to help his students succeed. One student explains:

    “Understanding the difficulties of 1st year students in a new environment, his lectures ease you into the difficulty of content to come. He goes beyond the textbook and adds relevant personal anecdotes to make the material much more practical and memorable.”

    Another student shares how Dr. Rodriguez takes this challenging subject and makes it intriguing. "Without overwhelming us, he lured us into the magic of chemistry with his relaxed teaching style, funny takes, and a Chilean accent to top it off."

    Clearly, Dr. Rodriguez is driven by more than just a deep passion and understanding of chemistry; he is driven by a deep passion of teaching and an understanding of his students.

    This desire to see his students gain confidence and understanding in chemistry class drove Dr. Rodriguez to establish weekly Chemistry workshops, where students are tutored by carefully chosen peer leaders. To ensure the success of the workshops, Dr. Rodriguez has worked tirelessly with the peer leaders-training, reviewing, and creating materials for them to use as teaching tools during the workshops.

    Dr. Silvio RodriguezMost of the students find these workshops to be very helpful when coupled with the strong lectures they receive in classes, and, as a testament to their success, other departments are now starting to emulate such workshops.

    Dr. Rodriguez understands the importance of fostering success and a love of knowledge in his freshmen students. One student, now in pharmacy school, looks back on her freshman year and remembers "as one of the many scared little freshmen in a large scary college chemistry course, I was welcomed by Dr. Rodriguez's humor and affability."

    This experience is not uncommon among the many freshmen that pass through the doors of Dr. Rodriguez's chemistry class. It is his welcoming humor, innovative thinking, and patient devotion to his students that allow these freshmen to conquer that challenge of Chemistry 25 and develop the confidence and study skills necessary to continue to succeed in life. Truly, he embodies the qualities and characteristics of a Corson Award winner.

    “Silvio has a delightful, playful, friendly relationship with many students. They seem always to congregate around him in the halls. He really exemplifies and lives the Pacific commitment to a student-centered learning experience.”

    Dr. Spreer, Chair of Chemistry Department

    “I can tell that he cares so much for his students through the way he interacts with them (in and out of the classroom), the way he teaches, and through the amazing workshop program he built for his students. I can say with utter confidence that Dr. Rodriguez is the best professor I have ever worked with, and he epitomizes this award in every way.”


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