Dimitrios Giarikos, associate professor of chemistry and science coordinator at the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences, has been invited to weddings and parties — by his students.
His popularity with students has not gone unrecognized. He won the 2010 Outstanding Full-Time Teacher of the Year award in the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences.
Giarikos said that winning the award was a great honor.
“My true goal was to actually become the best instructor that I could, basically to be more student oriented and make sure that they learn rather than just listening to a lecture,” he said. “So when I actually got the award, that’s what I wanted at the end. I wanted to put out the best that I could and the award was kind of like the cherry on the cake.”
Giarikos said that he tries to contribute as much as he can to the development of students’ critical thinking skills.
“Eventually they’re going to go outside in the real world. They’re not going to have me. They’re not going to have instructors. They have to think on their own,” he said.
Giarikos and the other chemistry faculty have developed the college’s new chemistry major, which starts in fall 2011.
“We’re really looking forward to it, especially the upper division courses,” he said. “We’ve already had the general chemistry and the organic chemistry but the upper division courses are all new courses and that’s going to be the exciting part.”
This freedom to create courses was what attracted Giarikos to NSU. When he first came to NSU in 2003, he said he saw an opportunity to be involved in the university’s potential for the development of new areas. This aspect made him choose NSU over six other universities.
Giarikos said he also likes NSU’s small-college feel.
“Our classroom sizes are small so I get to know every single student in two or three weeks instead of teaching a class of 400 and having ten teaching assistants,” he said. “Here, you’re really an instructor. Here, you’re a professor. You sit down with people. You have a conversation.”
Giarikos’s students have to pick up their exams from his office, which gives him an opportunity to meet with the students and get to know more about them.
“Anytime we have exams, I like to sit down with them to have a conversation about where they’re standing in the course and how they’re doing and also to give me a little idea of what they’re about. What do they want in the future? Where are they going with this? What do they want to do? That way I try to give them some guidance wherever I can,” he said.
Giarikos also helps students with research projects. His students have presented their research at the Undergraduate Student Symposium. He said that the symposium is one of the most important things that undergraduate students should participate in.
“It’s really learning about what the research process is — sharing information with the public,” he said. “So I try in all my classes in the winter semester to incorporate some type of research project so they can present at the undergraduate symposium.”
Just as he sees the potential in his students’ futures, he is also interested in NSU’s future. He said he still sees the potential in NSU that he saw when he first came here. He would love to see math and physics majors created and, eventually, an engineering major.
“I think engineering is something that the university lacks a little bit, but I think we can create a very strong engineering program here. I would love to see engineering in something that’s different — not your typically electrical and mechanical engineering that all the universities have. I think we can do something special here.”