First-Year Experience Course Hullabaloo U Announces 2023 Instructor Of The Year
Texas A&M University announces Dr. Carol Binzer, director of administrative services in the Department of Residence Life, as the 2023 Hullabaloo U Instructor of the Year.
Hullabaloo U is Texas A&M’s first-year experience course. Strongly encouraged for all first-year students, the course helps them develop strategies for academic success, build and contribute to a diverse and inclusive community and make Aggieland feel like home.
Instructors are Texas A&M employees from across campus who are invested in the success of first-year students. They serve as educators, resources for their students and ambassadors of Texas A&M, working closely with undergraduate peer mentors to create engaging learning opportunities.
Each year, students enrolled in a Hullabaloo U course during the fall semester are asked to nominate instructors who demonstrated exemplary characteristics. This year, Binzer was selected from a pool of 113 instructors and more than 160 nominations. Her students recognized her for her dedication to supporting their success through her effectiveness as an instructor, her ability to develop community and connection to Texas A&M, as well as her genuine care and concern for first-year students.
Binzer joined Texas A&M in 2002 as an associate director in Student Life and has been serving in her current position in the Department of Residence Life since 2010.
“It was humbling to be nominated,” she said. “I never imagined they would select me to win, It was a big surprise and I am so honored.”
She indicated receiving the award was reaffirming of the work she is doing, despite some initial logistical setbacks at the beginning of the year.
“Being your authentic self and giving it your best effort is always going to win the day,” she said. “I am making a difference.”
A veteran instructor, with experience teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level, Binzer has been a Hullabaloo U instructor since the initiative’s founding in 2019. The course section she teaches is tied to the Leadership Living Learning Community or L3C, for which she is the coordinator. It is one of several residential student communities on campus organized around academic or other common interests. Binzer’s course includes theoretical concepts of leadership, including a relational leadership model focused on building an inclusive community.
Binzer’s success as an instructor stems from that focus on community and she excels at making all of her students feel safe, important and seen. This is evident in the comments from her nominators.
“Dr. Binzer clearly expresses that she expects us to be kind to each other, and the room feels safe with her presence there,” wrote one of her nominators. “She consistently talks to us and sees if we are doing OK, and her dedication is evident. I think the environment before and after class showcases the community that Dr. Binzer has facilitated. The room is loud, and people are talking with each other everywhere. We know each other’s names, but more importantly, we know what activities everyone is involved in, what sports they like to watch, and what their class schedule looks like. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to be introduced to what Texas A&M is all about than Dr. Binzer’s class.”
Her advice to other instructors is straightforward: “Be present and enjoy it. They are amazing students, and they are off to great things. They’re only there for a short period of time and if you get to be part of that journey you could really make a difference.”
It is that desire to connect with students that motivates her. “In student affairs your entry level jobs are all about students, but the more responsibility you get the less direct contact you have,” she said. Teaching Hullabaloo U is a way to keep that direct contact, she said, noting, “The students are my heart and a source of joy.”