“You are not going to like this class.”
That’s what Rupert Nacoste says on day one to his Intro to Social Psych students every semester. But it isn’t accurate — students love his courses. Many recommend the psychology professor’s classes to their friends. The overwhelming consensus is that his courses are life-changing.
The UNC Board of Governors has weighed in too: Nacoste has earned the 2013 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. A member of the Academy of Outstanding teachers since 1994, Nacoste was honored as an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor in 1999, with the NCSU Panhellenic Association’s Outstanding Educator award in 2005, and as a Student Government Distinguished Professor in 2011.
The Award for Excellence in Teaching is given to one teacher at each of the 17 UNC system institutions to “underscore the importance of teaching and to encourage, identify, recognize, reward, and support good teaching within the University.” The University’s roster of teaching faculty from which Nacoste was selected exceeds 2,200 members. On winning the highly prestigious award, Nacoste — a Navy veteran who stands more than 6-feet tall — had but one word to describe his sentiments: giddy.
Peer evaluations and student letters submitted on his behalf for the award all commend Nacoste's creative uses of media and “real-life examples” to lead well-choreographed and thoughtful lectures. One colleague noted the way in which Nacoste was capable of filling a 200 pupil lecture hall after 4:00 p.m. on the last day of class before Thanksgiving. Another commented on the way in which Nacoste’s exceptional classroom management skills "removed unwanted ambiguity, freeing students from the uncertainty of ‘what to do when,’ thereby allowing them to focus on the content of the lecture.” Douglas J Gillan, Head of the Psychology Department, wrote that Nacoste "is more than an excellent classroom teacher — he is a thoughtful scholar of teaching and an outstanding mentor for other teachers.”
Nacoste’s impact on his students, his peers, and the university is well-documented. He regularly lectures at student-organized events and recently lectured on neo-diversity at the TEDxNCSU event, which can be viewed on YouTube. His experiences at NC State have led him to publish two books, “Making Gumbo In the University,” and most recently, “Howl of the Wolf.”
Beyond NC State, Nacoste is a highly sought-after guest lecturer for an array of organizations ranging from other colleges to the Department of Defense. While his first audience members were Naval cadets, Nacoste has impacted students from all walks of life in his nearly 40 years of lecturing and teaching.
NC State will light its iconic Belltower red on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, in celebration of Rupert Nacoste receiving this award.
By Alyssa Putt, CHASS Communication Intern