Rick Axtell and Patrice Mothion recognized by Princeton Review in “The Best 300 Professors”
April 5, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
(above) and Associate Professor of French Patrice Mothion
(below) were recently recognized in a new publication, “The
Best 300 Professors,” compiled by Princeton Review Books and
Axtell and Mothion agree that the most meaningful moments as
professors are seeing their students utilize knowledge from class
in real-world settings. “When moments like that take place, I
feel that I have done my job well,” Mothion says.
Princeton Review Books, in conjunction with RateMyProfessor.com, recently released a new publication, “The Best 300 Professors,” created to recognize professors from across the nation recognized by students as impacting and inspiring educators. Among those honored in the book are two Centre professors: Paul L. Cantrell Associate Professor of Religion and College Chaplain Rick Axtell and Associate Professor of French Patrice Mothion.
“The fact that this honor was partly based on what students have reported about their own experiences in class makes it especially meaningful,” Axtell says. “I realize that I am fortunate to be in an environment where students and colleagues motivate one another to be their best. I am surrounded here by inspiring teachers.”
“I won't deny it, it makes me very happy,” Mothion says of this recognition. “I feel particularly honored to be recognized along with Rick, who is someone that I have admired since I started teaching at Centre. To be perfectly honest, I am also a little embarrassed because I know that many of my Centre colleagues also deserve to be on that list for their talent and dedication as professors.”
Both professors appreciate being able to teach classes that will remain relevant to students throughout their lives.
“I hope my students understand that they can always be successful at learning French, if they so desire,” Mothion says. “I believe that learning a foreign language is only a matter of dedication and patience. Ideally, students should take away from my classes that, after a certain level, they do not need me to help them—they can learn and master the language by themselves. The most meaningful aspect is when students continue to use or learn French after their time at Centre or when they tell me that they really enjoyed learning the language.”
“I am fortunate to teach a variety of courses in social ethics with subject matter that is inherently eye-opening, relevant, and often personally transformative, with a real-world experiential dimension,” Axtell says. “Courses on poverty, violence or human rights have the capacity to raise questions about what kind of people students really want to be in a world of seemingly intractable problems. I believe that teaching can be transformative, and it can develop students with a critical consciousness who are more likely to be involved in creative social change as informed and responsible citizens.”
Axtell enjoys seeing students utilizing information learned in class in new and important ways.
“Few things are more meaningful than witnessing the transformative power of learning that connects students experientially with what they are studying in class,” he says. “Reflecting with students after playing with children of the municipal dump in Managua, harvesting coffee in a mountain cooperative, interviewing survivors of a massacre in Chiapas or staying overnight in Louisville homeless shelters, I have sensed that the resulting questions would fuel lifelong quests for knowledge, and ongoing commitments to make a difference in the world.”
Many of Mothion’s favorite experiences as a professor have also taken place outside of the classroom.
“The most exciting aspect of being a professor for me is being able to create a personal gallery of ‘powerful moments’ experienced in the company of my students,” he says. ‘For example, watching Kathi Woolridge ‘04 seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the night for the first time—fantastic! Taking Cortney Miller ‘11 sailing off the French Catalan coast—fabulous! Discreetly watching Rachel Tapley ‘07 calling her parents from the museum of the Abbey of Montserrat in Catalunya—moving! When moments like that take place, I feel that I have done my job well.”
To learn more about “The Best 300 Professors,” click here.
Have comments, suggestions, or story ideas? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.
Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.