Professor of the Year passionate about politics
Helping students grasp the many ways in which government affects
their lives is a passion of Constance Mixon '88, a political
professor at Chicago's Richard J. Daley College.
of the students who enroll in my classes don't know there are three
branches of government," says Mixon. "They need to understand
that virtually every aspect of their lives is touched by government-from
the roads they drive on to the tap water that comes from their kitchen
Mixon's ability to connect with students has earned her the 2001
Illinois Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation
for the Advancement of Teaching, the only national program that
recognizes professors for their teaching.
Mixon planned to study law after earning a political science degree
at Cornell, but finances sent her into the job market instead. She
worked for the University of Illinois-Chicago while earning a master's
degree in public administration. That's when she headed into the
classroom as a teaching assistant.
"For me, that was a life-changing event," she says. "There's
something so magical about explaining a difficult concept and seeing
a student 'get it' for the first time."
Mixon joined the Daley College faculty in 1999, where she sponsors
the school's award-winning Model Illinois Government team. She's
finishing doctoral studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago,
where she was chosen by the American Political Science Association
to teach a course for future professors. In that class she hands
down some of what she learned at the feet of Cornell faculty.
"I have a great appreciation for what Cornell professors do
in 3 1/2 weeks," says Mixon, "and I have modeled much
of my teaching after Cornell professors, notably Craig Allin and