Dr. Susan Cannata, Associate Professor in the English and Theatre Department at UNC Pembroke, provides a nurturing environment that coaxes willingness among her students to participate verbally and share their ideas. She is able to zero in on discussions of critical theory and ideology without being esoteric. This makes her classroom discussions have a rhythm that students can easily follow and stay engaged in the topic at hand. Dr. Cannata has great respect for the opinions and ideas of her students and is constructively critical without being disparaging or judgmental. In the second week of class she had more than half the class volunteer comments and thoughts on the subject that were well thought out and critically pertinent to the topic.
Her philosophy states that the classroom is "a place that facilitates intellectual conversation," and she believes that it is her role to "engage students in this conversation." The warmth of her style allows students to not feel the least bit intimidated and creates a sense of community within her classroom. Her students are not only willing, but also eager to be a part of the discourse. On her student evaluations, one student commented on her method by saying, "I especially enjoyed the way you allowed us to take the conversation in any way we wanted, and because we had the ability to speak freely, I was able to understand difficult concepts." In her letter of nomination, Mary Gyves wrote, "There is no doubt in my mind that some of my undergraduate success is a direct result of Dr. Cannata's pedagogy. I feel better prepared and more confident as a result of Dr. Cannata's participation in my academic development."
An active participant in student activities, Dr. Cannata arranges for her classes to attend pertinent campus events when possible, attends PURC forum and accompanied Sigma Tau Delta students to the National Conference. She is the faculty advisor to Alpha Chi, an advisor for Honor's thesis and a University Teaching Fellows mentor. Dr. Cannata is active in her field, presenting numerous papers at conferences and is co-founder and editor of the publication, ReVisions: Best Students Essays at UNCP. Working with faculty campuswide, exemplary student essays are selected for this publication and then Dr. Cannata arranges for a class to complete the publication process.
Dr. Cannata's dedication and commitment exemplify the qualities of excellence in teaching. She has the utmost respect of her colleagues and, most importantly, her students. It is no surprise that in the ten years that she has taught at UNC Pembroke that she has been nominated numerous times for teaching awards and in 2004 received the UNCP Outstanding Teaching Award.
Dr. Cannata earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree from Boston University, as well as a Masters of Arts degree. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico and maintains a profile at http://www.uncp.edu/home/cannata