Donald J. Patterson

Teacher of the Year for 2019

Bruce and Adaline Bare Teacher of the Year Award

I was honored to be selected as the 2019 Teacher of the Year at Westmont’s Commencement. It was a complete surprise to me, although I probably should have realized something was up when my partner casually mentioned that she “thought she’d go to Commencement this year”. I thought, “I guess she wants to hear the speeches.” I figured it out as soon as they announced my name.

The selection process starts with nominations from the campus community including students, staff and faculty. Then a selection committee comprised of previous award winners chooses from among the nominees.

Our provost, Mark Sargent, is a very thoughtful guy and took the time to write a nice justification:

“Our world will be increasingly shaped by big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. So I am grateful that the professor at Westmont who knows the most about all this is also one with a keen moral imagination. Don Patterson helped create our Data Analytics major — and he unfolds for us the promise of computer science even as he discerns its risks. His own scholarly and creative work models how one blends technological innovation with a social conscience. His students have the great fun of helping program drones and robots, all the while pondering themes of ethics, control and deception. It is impossible not to be moved when you hear Don talk about his project using machine learning to identify and treat preterm infants who are at risk of developing cerebral palsy. To support journalistic integrity, Don and his students are developing methods to detect doctored or deceptive imagery on the Internet, and he explores computer learning can promote environmental sustainability and stewardship. For his innovative spirit and moral attentiveness, I am pleased to present one of this year’s outstanding teaching awards to Don Patterson.”

More about the Teacher of the Year award and other great stuff going on at Westmont can be found in the May Provost’s Report.

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