Connecticut College recently honored three members of the community with the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Awards, conferred each year on those who exemplify and uphold the legacy of Dr. King's work.
Professor Marc Forster, left, with Erin Wilson '11. Forster advised Wilson on her senior thesis, for which she won the Oakes and Louise Ames Prize at Commencement.
The Student Government Association voted unanimously last month to honor Professor of History Marc Forster with the student version of the John S. King Memorial Teaching Award, given only when the SGA feels a professor has shown an extraordinary commitment to students.
Forster, a professor at the College since 1990, is a history expert with a special interest in the development of Catholic identity in Germany.
Laura Koroski '11 praised his "fantastic" classes as well as his character. "Marc loves what he researches and what he teaches, but he also loves teaching and his students, and it's quite apparent that he really cares about us, far outside the classroom," she said.
Koroski added that Forster attends his students' athletic games, music recitals and other performances. And, she said, "He's a fantastic adviser and loves to talk to his students, not only about their academic paths, but about anything."
SGA President Nathan Cornell '11 said Forster, who is also a Residential Education Fellow in south campus, is highly regarded among students for his commitment to both academic and co-curricular programming. "Professor Forster is a model professor, and thus his work reflects the ideal Connecticut College faculty member," Cornell said.
Alexandra Shapiro '11, who worked with Forster on a curriculum planning committee, said, "He has a visible presence on campus, but doesn't ask for recognition. He engages and inspires students inside and outside of the classroom, and I feel lucky to have gotten to know him better this year."
Forster himself sees his teaching style as a group effort. "I want an active, engaged classroom, I'm not lecturing to them, I'm talking with them," he said. "I'm also trying to get them to communicate and work with each other. I always tell them it's not about you and me; it's about all of us working together."
About the award, Forster was humble but appreciative. "It's really gratifying to be recognized by the students," he said. "It was a surprise, and it shows that these students are willing to go out of their way to recognize a professor."
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