Hoffman wins Teaching Excellence Award

Dr. Anton G. Hoffman, clinical professor in the department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), has been honored with a student-selected Teaching Excellence Award.

Anton Hoffman

Initiated by Chancellor Michael D. McKinney in 2008, the Teaching Excellence Awards program honors and financially rewards top teachers throughout the 11 branch campuses of the Texas A&M University System for excellence in classroom teaching. Awards are based solely on rankings from evaluations created and administered by students, with weighting for factors such as class size. All A&M system faculty members who teach at least a 3-hour course can participate in this program.

Ranked in the top 5% of the total 207 Texas A&M University System faculty winners, Hoffman will be one of three faculty members to receive a check for $10,000.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award,” Hoffman said. “I can honestly say that my teaching career has been more challenging, stimulating and rewarding than I could have ever imagined. It is a joy to watch veterinary students grow and mature during their short time with us, both intellectually and personally. It is incredibly rewarding to me when my students come back to me after the third or fourth year or even after post-graduation and say “thanks,” “thanks for taking the time to help,” “thanks for caring about whether I understood the material.”

The award is a noteworthy addition to the string of teaching honors Hoffman has received during his career. These include the John H. Millif Award for Teaching, the Carl J. Norden/Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award (which he has won twice), the Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for teaching (at both the college and university levels) and the Student Led Award for Teaching Excellence.

A 1986 graduate of the CVM, Hoffman joined the department of veterinary anatomy and public health (now VIBS) in 1987 as a veterinary clinical associate. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1998, clinical associate professor in 2003 and since 2009, he has served in the position of clinical professor.

Hoffman’s main responsibilities involve teaching a range of undergraduate and professional anatomy courses offered by the VIBS department. These include a comprehensive small animal gross anatomy course taught in the first semester of the professional program; a special programs course in which biomedical science undergraduate students can work on anatomic projects such as skeletal preparation; and a neuroanatomy and clinical neurology course, which teaches not only anatomy of the gross brain and spinal cord, but also focuses heavily on neurological examination and localization of neurological lesions.

“For most students, the thought of an anatomy course can be quite scary,” Hoffman said, explaining his teaching style. “However, it has been my observation that they will usually dive into the material once they [are motivated] and have a clear sense of the usefulness of the material to their future careers. To that end, I try to keep my anatomy courses clinically relevant by emphasizing major points with various “real-world” clinical examples.”

Hoffman also believes in developing innovative methods to cater to different learning styles. He has facilitated student learning by developing computer software programs for teaching anatomy, for example, Canine Radiographic Anatomy (Texas A&M University Press). Also, as director of the department’s Plastination Laboratory since 1994, he has developed plastinated models for teaching. Further, as a medical illustrator, he has contributed numerous anatomic illustrations to peer-reviewed manuscripts, books, book chapters and presentations. Hoffman has also prepared anatomical illustrations for the courses he teaches to aid student learning.

“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary” is one of Hoffman’s favorite teaching quotes and one that defines his teaching philosophy. By not only imparting information but by teaching his students how to find information, learn on their own and ask questions, Hoffman hopes that ultimately, his students will get along without him, not even noticing if he’s not around.

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