By putting his own advice into action, South Dakota State University professor Sanjeev Anand has been recognized for his efforts in the classroom.
Anand received the North Central Region for 2021 Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. He receives $2,000 to be used for improving teaching at SDSU.
He was previously recognized for his work in the classroom with the 2018 International Dairy Foods Association Teaching Award and his work in the laboratory with the 2020 IDFA Research Award in Dairy Foods Processing.
“When the late Don Marshall was in our college, he approached me about being a candidate for this award,” Anand said. “Yes, I’ve had other teaching awards, but it was different when Don called and provided his thoughts on my credentials for this one. Now to finally see it happen, it’s a great experience and one that is very rewarding.”
Anand, who has been in SDSU’s Department of Dairy and Food Science since 2006, teaches two undergraduate courses and one graduate course. He has mentored 32 undergraduate student research projects and has served as a major adviser to 20 master’s degree students, seven doctoral students and three postdoctorate research associates.
He attributes his success to the land-grant university system, which made him focus on the teaching side and adapt his style to accommodate different learning styles and backgrounds. He looks to empower his students so they can be successful in other classes and after graduation.
That success has been noted by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences administrators. In a nomination letter, Vikram Mistry, the college’s interim associate dean for academic programs, wrote “Dr. Anand excels in the classroom by combining relevant course content with effective modes of delivery. Dr. Anand captures students’ attention by contextualizing difficult microbiology content such that it is easily relatable to their everyday lives as food consumers and to their career aspirations as food producers and processers.
“Students describe Dr. Anand’s courses as rigorous, relevant and invaluable. He challenges them with rigor, emphasizing critical thinking and problem-solving, but also provides tireless support and helps students understand and apply complex scientific principles.”
In addition, Anand serves as a mentor for undergraduate and graduate students and fellow faculty members.
“I tell them teaching is an everyday effort—there are good days and not so good days. There will be days when you will be very excited and happy with what you did in terms of your teaching and mentoring efforts and there will be days when you think what you wanted to convey was not conveyed effectively,” Anand said. “What I have learned over the years is that it’s very important to understand that when you enter any interaction, you are the one controlling that conversation. The responsibility of communicating lies upon you; it’s not about who’s on the other end.
“Whether you’re able to convey what you want to convey depends on you rather than whether the other person understood you or not. I know if I am unable to reach someone, I need to do something to reach that audience in the manner I want—that’s the core of my philosophy,” he continued.
To do that, Anand attempts to connect with each student in his class or laboratory, regardless of there being 20 or 50 students in it.
“I try to see what are their goals and thoughts and if there is a way I can meet their individual goals while achieving a common goal or learning outcome in the classroom. I think you can gain this skill and add to it a little bit by little bit.”
And the collection of teaching awards in his office keeps getting added to, bit by bit.