“Mike is so patient, especially with students who are not used to being around water or have never been in the ocean before,” said Jozette Ausbury, discussing Evangel University professor Dr. Michael Tenneson and his recent marine biology trip to the Florida Keys.
“He calmly takes the students by the hand and walks them through the process,” she said. “Pretty soon, they can’t wait to jump in and snorkel away.”
That pretty well describes the classroom style of this popular Evangel professor, who is also known for holding extremely high expectations of his students.
“I tell my students that most of them are more gifted than I am, but I am more experienced than they are. So let’s partner in this venture in learning and gain from each other as much as possible,” he said.
Tenneson has been a member of Evangel’s faculty since 1987. He holds a Ph.D. in science education from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
At EU, Tenneson mentors students who are preparing for careers in medical fields. He also serves as a sponsor of two of the University’s most popular academic adventures — the biannual marine biology trips to Florida, and the yearly medical mission trips to Central America, Asia or Africa.
On the two-week marine biology trips, students collect data that are shared with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and are involved in ministry projects at local churches.
“The Florida trips are popular, because they are a combination of adventure, family and service,” said Tenneson.
Ausbury — who serves as administrative assistant for the SciTech Department and helps with trip planning and onsite logistics — agrees. “Everyone sleeps in tents, and I serve as ‘mother of the camp.’ It is a great bonding experience, as well as a great learning experience,” she said.
Tenneson firmly believes in these types of collaborative learning experiences.
On May 1, he assumed the duties of chair of the SciTech Department, and one of his first efforts was to open a student study room in the faculty office complex.
“We are student focused,” said Tenneson. “We want to make it easy for them to find us when they need us.”