COLUMBIA — MU professor Benyamin Schwarz thinks of himself as an advocate for his students.
“I challenge myself to cater individually to each student rather than using my authority to teach to an anonymous group,” he said.
Schwarz, a professor in the department of architectural studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at MU, was named one of the "Top 25 Professors and Education Leaders in the U.S." by DesignIntelligence magazine.
“This award is rewarding because it gives recognition for the kind of education that you try to provide your students,” Schwarz said. “It is the idea of meeting young people and adding something to their life through teaching.”
The honor is given annually to educators and education administrators across the country who display excellence in design education leadership. The “2011 class of education role models” include faculty in the Ivy League and the Big 12, according to an MU news release.
Schwarz, who has been an MU professor for 17 years, studied for his doctorate at the University of Michigan after working as an architect for many years in Israel. His research at MU focuses on environmental gerontology, which is the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging.
“The students’ opportunity to grow is a tremendous asset that you hold in your hand as a teacher, and if you use it with passion and love, then it is a tremendous reward,” he said.
Former student Liz Pettit said that Schwarz's enthusiasm as a teacher thrives on the enthusiasm of his students.
"He's willing to go above and beyond what is expected of a teacher," Pettit said.
In addition to teaching, Schwarz is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Housing for the Elderly. The publication focuses on the creation of residential environments for the elderly through architecture and housing, urban planning and public policy, according to the release.