Western Carolina University's 2009-2010 Board of Governor's Teaching Award winner is Dr. Gibbs Knotts, Associate Professor in the Political Science and Public Affairs Department in the College of Arts & Sciences. Dr. Knotts earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. He joined the WCU faculty in 2000 and has served as the Director for the Master of Public Affairs Program, the Associate Dean for the Graduate School and is currently the Department Head for Political Science and Public Affairs.
Dr. Knotts is a skilled teacher who brings passion and enthusiasm for politics and government into his classroom. His excitement for teaching is not only contagious, but also inspiring. He motivates students to become engaged individuals who are active participants in their learning. Gibbs also moves student growth and learning beyond the classroom by utilizing service learning projects. One recent service learning project involved having a class work with the Downtown Sylva Association to design, implement, and analyze a survey. This hands-on experience gave students a chance to better understand the course's learning objectives while at the same time assisting a local community organization.
Dr. Knotts' attitude both inside and outside of the classroom earned him the respect and admiration of both his colleagues and students. Dr. Don Livingston noted that Gibbs "knows his students' names, makes himself accessible to them, enjoys their company and takes a personal and genuine interest in each of them. He is a role model for his undergraduate students and a mentor for his graduate students." Dr. Christopher Cooper says that Gibbs has breathed new life into courses, and has shown students how the totality of their educational experiences translates into success outside of Cullowhee.
While praise from colleagues is meaningful, the true test of teachers lies in the impact they have on their students. The glowing reviews about Dr. Knotts from former students are too numerous to mention. However, comments from a former student, Mr. Leslie Fleisher, says it all. Mr. Fleisher is a retired teacher with fifteen years experience in education. Although he had a Master's degree from The Manhattan School of Music and an undergraduate degree from NYU, upon retirement he decided to work on his Master's Degree in Public Affairs at WCU. Mr. Fleischer said that "if I were asked to choose the finest teacher I have ever had, it would be an easy choice for me... I have never been more privileged as student than to have been taught by Dr. Gibbs Knotts... (he) is a teacher that comes along only once in a generation."