Though she proudly carries the titles of associate professor and area coordinator in the Department of Marketing and Fashion Merchandising at The University of Southern Mississippi, Brigitte Burgess still considers herself a student.
That unwavering passion for education paved the way for Burgess’ selection as the 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award winner. The Petal, Miss., native and Southern Miss alumnus was recognized during Founders Day festivities held March 30 on the Hattiesburg campus.
“I am humbled and honored to be nominated and selected for this award,” said Burgess, a Southern Miss faculty member since 2003. “Teaching is the part of my career that I enjoy most. Being in the classroom allows me to be continually challenged to remain current in my field. I love interacting with the students and learn as much from them as I hope they learn from me.”
Ask Burgess to define her teaching philosophy and she readily produces a two-page document that covers virtually every conceivable aspect of such a highly abstract inquiry. First and foremost in her outline is the premise that excellence in teaching requires a commitment to lifelong learning.
In Burgess’ estimation, teachers must remain current in their discipline to be effective. Therefore, they must read scholarly, trade and consumer publications and be actively connected to industry through networking. “Fashion merchandising changes so rapidly that textbooks are often outdated by the time they are published,” said Burgess.
She further concludes that top-flight teachers are forward-thinking, routinely evaluating and refining their teaching methods. “Students need change,” said Burgess. “Methods that were effective in a previous semester may not be effective the next.”
Dr. Leisa Flynn, chair of the Department of Marketing and Fashion Merchandising at Southern Miss, calls Burgess the consummate instructor. “Dr. Burgess is the driving force in our fashion merchandising program and works tirelessly to provide a wide variety of courses and real-world experiences for her students,” said Flynn.
To that end, Burgess’ students have teamed with students from another fashion merchandising course to produce a fashion show at 6:30 p.m. on April 24 in the Southern Miss Union lobby. The event, which is free, will serve as a kickoff for the department’s annual Passion for Fashion consignment sale (www.passionforfashion.org).
From the use of cutting-edge technology for classroom instruction to attending peer-reviewed conferences, Burgess is constantly striving to excel in her chosen field. Asked what she hopes students say after taking one of her classes, Burgess offers a three-tiered response:
“First, that they were challenged to stretch themselves to master the content and they understand how the material relates to their potential careers. Second, that they not only know the material in the theoretical sense, but know to apply it in the real world. Third, that learning was enjoyable.”
Brigitte Burgess, assistant professor of fashion merchandising at The University of Southern Mississippi, was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award during Founders Day festivities on March 30. (Office of University Communications photo by Steve Rouse)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.