Floyd 'At The Forefront of Effective Teaching At Lander'

July 11, 2012
Ryan Floyd
Dr. Ryan Floyd
Two years ago, future assistant professor of history Ryan Floyd was driving down the highway, bound for a job interview at Lander University, when a jackknifed tractor trailer in front of him slowed traffic to a crawl.

He already had misgivings about moving his young family away from their support system in Alabama, and he remembered thinking, "Is this a bad omen or something?"

Then he met his future Department of History and Philosophy colleagues, he said, "and almost immediately I knew this was going to be a great place to be."

Floyd, who has also worked as a financial planner, continues to count his fellow faculty members among his most valuable assets.

"I enjoy working with all of them," he said. "They've been very supportive. I think we've got a really good, collegial group."

If there were any doubt that Floyd's colleagues think as highly of him as he does of them, it was dispelled when he was named the winner of this year's Young Faculty Teaching Award.

"Dr. Floyd has shown tremendous determination and innovation in his approach to classroom teaching," said associate professor of history Dr. William Ramsey, who nominated Floyd for the award. "His creative use of technology and interactive research projects and exercises puts him at the forefront of effective teaching at Lander."

A native of New Orleans, Floyd comes from a family of teachers. His father served as chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of New Orleans and is currently chair of the Department of Sociology at Samford University. The Lander educator, who earned his bachelor's degree from Samford in 1998 and his doctorate from the University of Alabama in 2010, said, "I've been on college campuses for as long as I can remember."

He went into history, he said, because he "appreciated the stories about how people lived in the past. Not just the leaders and 'heroes' -- I enjoyed learning about ordinary people and how they made it day to day. I still enjoy learning about people and events from the past, but over the years I have also developed a stronger appreciation for the discipline of history itself and history education."

Floyd disputes the notion that history offers students little of value. "I believe that through the study of history students can develop a better understanding of who they are as individuals and as members of society. I also believe that, as a professor, I can help students to learn the important skills, such as research, critical thinking and persuasive writing, used by historians that can easily transfer to other disciplines," he said.

His research and teaching interests include 19th- and 20th-century American foreign relations, military history, civil rights and the New South. He hopes to develop his dissertation, "The Formative Period of Anglo-American Relations During the First World War, July 1914-December 1915," into a book. It was a time when the U.S. was becoming a major player on the world stage. He said, "I'm fascinated with that kind of thing."

As coordinator of Lander's Social Science Secondary Education program, Floyd oversees the training of history majors who plan to teach social studies on the high school level and works closely with the College of Education to ensure that students meet all requirements for teacher certification for the state of South Carolina. He is likewise responsible for making sure that Lander's social science program meets the standards set by the National Council for Accreditation and Teacher Education (NCATE).

He also serves as executive historian of the Teaching American History in the Lakelands program.

Floyd believes that different strategies are needed for teaching different students. His goal, however, is always the same. "I want to push them beyond what they think they're capable of doing," he said.