College of Veterinary Medicine Associate Professor Elaine Coleman acknowledged for devotion to students and passion for teaching

Published: February 09, 2016
Updated: February 10, 2016
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Elaine Coleman, a 2015 recipient of The Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, knows that making a difference in the lives of others is what truly counts.

"To be recognized for something that you love to do means a lot," Coleman said. "I know that ultimately it comes from students' input. The students mean a lot to me. It's very, very special."

Coleman, an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, has been an Auburn University faculty member since 2001.

In her time as a professor at Auburn, Coleman has taught a small animal anatomy course each fall and a neuroscience course each spring. These courses are part of the first year curriculum for veterinary students, which is often an overwhelming time. According to her students, "Mama Coleman" realizes the workload can be daunting and treats them with sensitivity.

"I think a lot of it is delivery in the classroom, but there's also a huge component of teaching that's outside the classroom," Coleman said. "I think outside the classroom is where the students really bond with the faculty."

A passion for teaching is just one important aspect of being a great teacher, according to Coleman. She says that remembering what it was like to be a student is one factor she tries to focus on when preparing her lessons. Remembering her own frustrations as a student, Coleman aims to present information in a way that is easy to understand.

Above all, Coleman acknowledges that to be a great teacher, you must care.

"Caring about the students is critical," Coleman said. "It's a very demanding program. There are a lot of stresses on them."

Coleman teaches the small animal anatomy course with a team of other anatomy professors. She attributes much of the course's success to the positive relationships amongst the team members.

"The whole team effort makes a lot of what we do so special," Coleman said. "I think the students appreciate that there are so many faculty that really do care about them and their futures."

Coleman and the fellow professors on her team attend each other's lectures and instruct the lab portion of the course together.

"All the professors that are in anatomy love anatomy, and they like to be there," Coleman said. "It's a very supportive environment."

Coleman received her Bachelor of Science from West Virginia University and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University before moving to Auburn, where she completed an internship and a residency with the College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Auburn University.

Following her studies, Coleman took a position at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine before returning to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2001 as a faculty member in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology.

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