Professor Craig Calvert, co-Director of the MEM Program, a top-rated professor, and a champion of students pursuing their job searches, will be honored with the UConn AAUP Teaching Excellence/Early Career Award in April.
Calvert, a two-time UConn alumnus, joined the School of Business after a successful career at Electric Boat, where his responsibilities ranged from submarine safety inspections to managing multimillion-dollar government contracts. He also brings experience in technical sales and chemical safety, at other companies, to his UConn role.
Ten years ago, Calvert began working as an adjunct professor at UConn, and found his passion in the classroom. He joined the full-time OPIM faculty in 2018. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is the co-director of the MEM (Management & Engineering for Manufacturing) program, a highly competitive, dual-degree business and engineering major with a manufacturing focus.
“I’m really having more fun teaching than I have had at anything else in my career,’’ Calvert said. “This position allows me to use all of my life experiences. What I enjoy most is having an immediate impact on people’s lives.’’
Calvert Strives for the Antithesis of a ‘COVID Class’
In numerous letters of nominations, Calvert’s colleagues and students emphasized his determination to engage students with the academic material, with each other, and with their professor.
Students were changed by the COVID pandemic and many seemed to lose their zeal for learning, he said. One student remarked that online and in-person classes seemed interchangeable and both felt similar to watching a video.
“This really impacted me,’’ Calvert said. “Given my interest and use of active learning, I wanted to create a supply-chain class that was as different as possible from a ‘COVID class.’ To do this I challenged myself to teach a whole course with zero PowerPoint slides.’’
He prides himself on being creative and innovative and changing or improving his classes each semester. Traditional lectures have been replaced by engaging discussions and small-group projects.
Professor Stephen Fitzgerald said Calvert took the lead in developing and standardizing an operations-management course, that was getting lower-than-desired student ratings.
“After Craig’s re-work, the course is full of activities, simulations, and real-world applications that make it one of our highest rated courses,’’ Fitzgerald said. He added that Calvert holds students to high standards, helps them develop confidence and is both highly respected and appreciated by his students.
Calvert has both a master’s degree in Business Analytics and Project Management and a doctorate in inorganic chemistry, both from UConn. In 2020, he won the School of Business Innovation in Teaching Award. He teaches senior design, project management, supply chain management, operations management, and data visualization courses.
Professor Stephen Chapron co-taught Principles of Project management with Calvert for eight semesters.
“I have never been less than impressed,’’ Chapron said. “With respect to his teaching style, work ethic, character and caring for students, he demonstrates exactly what makes a great professor.’’
“With his teaching and course preparation, Craig has always put forward the continuous improvement mindset and never settles for the status quo or lets his work fall into autopilot mode,’’ Chapron said.
Calvert is willing to put in extra effort to improve the overall experience of a course, his colleague said.
“After our first semester teaching, he felt the textbook was too expensive and set out to review alternate textbooks, and was able to find one with the same level of depth and quality that was less expensive,’’ Chapron said.
Walking Students Through the Interview Process
Student Jenna Liseo, a senior majoring in MEM, took two courses with Calvert.
“Professor Calvert is in the top tier of teachers because of his ability to connect with his students,’’ she said. “He knows all of his students by name and is able to incorporate all of his students into the class activities.’’
Liseo said she spent most of this year job hunting and took advantage of Calvert’s invitation to stop by for career advice. For one key job prospect, he assisted her with a mock interview, a sales pitch, and introduced her to another student who was knowledgeable about the company. With the help of his preparation, she received a job offer.
“He took time out of his own work day to go above and beyond for his students, and his support is something I will carry with me,’’ she said. “I know he will be someone I remain in contact with even beyond my time at UConn.’’
MEM student Michael Kwok said Calvert helped him secure an internship with a Fortune 500 company.
“He wants his teaching to provide not only knowledge, but a sense of friendship as well, in a world that seems to want more kind-hearted people,’’ Kwok said.
A virtual ZOOM ceremony is planned on Monday, April 24th, at noon. All are welcome. Please RSVP to BarbaraK@uconnaaup.org to receive the link.