Prof. Mao Recognized with Teaching Excellence Award| May 7, 2012
Professor Mao enjoys a wide reputation for teaching excellence among her fellow faculty in the Department of Computer Science and among her current and former students, who uniformly praise the quality of her classes. With her colleagues she is generous in sharing the masterful course materials she prepares, including her syllabi, lectures notes, assignments, and examinations. Her teaching is beautifully organized and paced, with clear proofs, illuminating examples, and thought-provoking problem sets. Her approach with students is both gentle and firm, patiently coaxing even the most anxious of them through the processes of solving problems. When the department first called on Professor Mao to teach Discrete Structures of Computer Science — a highly mathematical course required for the major that introduces Boolean logic, induction, recursive formulas, and other challenging areas — she agreed readily and prepared all of her lectures in advance. Then she tested the material by delivering each lecture to her daughter, a star high-school mathematics student, to gauge how well they worked to convey the essential material. The student evaluations for this course made clear that she both demanded a lot of her students and won their respect and exceptionally high marks for her teaching. It is no surprise that some graduate and undergraduate Computer Science students have chosen to "major" in Professor Mao; and it is not unusual to hear comments such as, "One of the best classes I took at William & Mary.... I wish I could have taken more classes with Professor Mao." It is fitting that she now be recognized with the Arts and Sciences 2012 Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.