By Chris O’Connell
Professor, History; Senior associate vice president, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement
2015 Jean Holloway Award winner for excellence in teaching
- Years at UT: 8
- Dream student: “A kid with a 2.1 [GPA], a sophomore, just floating by at UT and thinking about dropping out. That student coming into my class, getting motivated, and taking off is my dream student.”
Leonard Moore serves two roles at UT Austin. As a professor of history, he teaches large classes like Race in the Age of Obama and History of the Black Power Era. When he’s not weaving the topics of race, sports, and hip-hop into a lecture, he’s at his other job as senior associate vice president at the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, where he gets to interact with even more students, something he thrives on.
“If I had my choice, we wouldn’t have walls anywhere up here,” Moore says about the fourth floor of the Student Services Building, which houses part of the DDCE. “It would be all open.”
Openness is Moore’s philosophy on teaching. Moore teaches 1,100 students in his two fall classes—1,100 mentors, he calls them—and Moore uses his students as sounding boards both for the class and for the DDCE.
“If I’m launching an initiative up here, guess who I’ll ask? I’ll go ask the 19-year-olds,” Moore says. “The feedback they give me makes me a better administrator.”
The biggest misconception about his class is that “it’s all about Black stuff,” Moore says. “What I tell white students is that you will learn more about yourself in my Black power class than you will on any other class on campus. All the white Greeks take the course now.”
While Moore absolutely values the research side of academia, his first love is educating in the classroom. For that reason, he says he believes in bringing his “A-game” in every single lecture.
“I got in this first and foremost to motivate undergrads to do something dynamic with their lives,” Moore says. “Students have paid a lot of money to be here. They should never be bored.”
Reprinted with permission from Alcalde, May/June 2015
Photo by Tania Quintanilla