Alumni Award Recipients

Mary DomskiMary Domski
Faculty Teaching Award, 2011

The lives of our three previous honorees have gone in different and fascinating directions. But they have one experience in common: the influence of a professor at UNM who either opened their minds to new thoughts and ideas or who took the time to guide and help them during their college years.

That’s why the Alumni Association honors outstanding faculty members each year with its Faculty Teaching Award.

And that’s why we’re honoring Mary Domski.

Mary teaches philosophy, a subject that intimidates many of us and that we might think is “out there,” with no application to the real world.

But that only fires Mary up to prove otherwise.

Here’s how she puts it:

“People believe philosophy is very sterile, like it doesn’t apply at all to the world . . .I’m trying to evoke personality. I’m trying to show that these are not just people sitting in a back room: they are very involved and aware of what is happening in the world.”

Mary has high expectations of her students, and high expectations of herself in teaching them. One of her grad students wrote: “She treated us as philosophy professionals and expected the same work – or at least effort – from us as she would from a colleague. Many times I submitted a paper to her only to receive detailed email comments a few hours later. Contrast that with the professors who return your work weeks later, if ever!”

Another student wrote that . . . “She uses no pyrotechnic whiz-bangs, no PowerPoint or dazzling devices—she just clearly and passionately engages her students in thought, conversation, and learning. . . . Sixteenth and 17th century thinkers and texts may be dry and abstract, but Professor Domski makes them sing.”

Students who take Mary’s intro course come back for more. In fact, because of Mary and other enthusiastic philosophy profs, the department continues to grow. There’s no lack of interest in philosophy at UNM!

Nor does Mary lack an interest in her students, showing tireless dedication to helping them outside of class as well as in.

She’s been the underclass advisor for four of her six years at UNM. She’s also been the unofficial career counselor for grad students, one of whom mentions spending “many a fond evening at her apartment with 3 or 4 other students talking philosophy into the wee hours.”

These gatherings have become known as “Descartee (day CAR tee) Parties.” Mary has also invited “holiday orphans” – students with no means to return to their home for the holidays – to her home for Thanksgiving.

Thoughts of Thanksgiving bring to mind football. Everyone we contacted about Mary mentioned her interest in the gridiron sport. She’s become known as the Domskinator for her record in winning game-day pools. In fact, where she’s made philosophy less intimidating, she has made her record in predicting the outcome of games more intimidating.

Most importantly, Mary, you have done for your students what others did for Hank, John, Nelson – and other alumni – you have made your students open their minds to new thoughts and ideas and taken the time to guide and help them. We are very pleased to give you our Alumni Association Faculty Teaching Award tonight.