The four Georgetown professors included in “The Best 300 Professors” list released by the Princeton Review last week all expressed surprise at the honor bestowed on them.

But Hector Campos, Sam Potolicchio, Barrett Tilney and Fr. Matthew Carnes, S.J., all have a record of previous awards and recognition for effective teaching.

The Princeton Review partnered with ratemyprofessors.com to determine which professors would be featured in the list. Annual surveys and data were first used to determine which schools had the highest-ranked professors, and a list of 42,000 professors from those top schools was then compiled using ratemyprofessor.com rankings.

The two companies conducted their own surveys of the top 1,000 professors and reached out to administrators and students from the respective schools to finalize the list. The result was a collection of 300 professors from 122 colleges.

For Campos, associate professor of Spanish and theoretical linguistics, his selection came as a shock. Campos acknowledged that most professors maintain a love-hate relationship with ratemyprofessor.com because student reviews are often based on extreme opinions.

Students of Campos said that he was demanding, but his teaching style and passion for his subject had convinced several of them to take him more than once.

“Campos is hands down the best professor I’ve had at Georgetown,” Emely Pring (COL ’12) said. Despite having over two hours of homework per night for one of his classes, Pring chose to take a second course with Campos.

“He’s the only professor that I would ever work that hard for,” she said.

 

Carnes, a professor in the government department, said that being chosen was an affirmation of the work he does at Georgetown.

Currently on a year-long research sabbatical at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Carnes received both the Dorothy Brown Award for Outstanding Teaching Achievement and the Edward B. Bunn, S.J., Award for Faculty Excellence last year. Both honors are determined by Georgetown student nominations and recognize a professor who has had a powerful impact on students’ experiences.

Michael Fischer (SFS ’13), a columnist for The Hoya, has taken multiple courses taught by Carnes and feels that his vocation as a priest makes him particularly effective.

“He has a firm belief in a Jesuit identity,” Fischer said. “When he teaches in the classroom and when he engages students, you know that he’s not doing it for a salary. He’s doing it because he sees the work he’s doing there as greater than himself and long lasting.”

According to Carnes, being featured on the list has allowed him to reflect on the impact of what he does at Georgetown.

“That’s maybe one of the great side effects of recognition like this … that you become aware of how much you value the things you get to do,” he said.

Potolicchio (COL ’04, GRD ’09, ’11), a visiting assistant professor and doctoral candidate in the government department, served as a teaching assistant for Carnes when he attended Georgetown as a first-time Ph.D. student. He said the number of Georgetown professors chosen reflects the strength of the faculty at the university.

“I was an undergrad at Georgetown and have had a lot of the professors. I think it really sums up just how strong the teaching faculty is,” he said.

Potolicchio, who won the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities last year, also feels that it is a personal honor to have been chosen by students.

“That means a lot to me because the students are the ones that I walk into the classroom for. To know that I can inspire them in that way is a deep honor,” he said.

Art history professor Barrett Tilney, characterized by students as passionate and engaging, said she was also pleased that students enjoyed her classes and their relationships with her.

According to Whitney McAniff (COL ’12), Tilney emphasizes the personal lives of the artists studied in her classes — not just their artwork — and makes an effort to personally connect with her students.

“She has this ability to impart knowledge in a unique manner,” McAniff said. “She’s so personable and talks about her life outside of school and cares about students’ lives, and that’s communicated in her teaching.”

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