When Marshall Frasier, professor of agricultural and resource economics, began his career at Colorado State University more than 22 years ago, his teaching style and philosophy were quite different. After years of seeing his teaching evolve and as he developed new approaches to student learning and student outcomes, Frasier’s work has been recognized with a regional USDA Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award. The award is administered by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and honors “university faculty for their use of innovative teaching methods and service to students.”
Frasier’s career is one that has seen exceptional teaching, a commitment to university and college leadership, and a focus on student success both inside and beyond the CSU classroom. “Throughout my time at CSU, I feel as though I have grown as a professor,” said Frasier. “While I was more concerned with test performance and attendance early in my career, I now focus on helping students achieve an outcome that will position them for success outside of my courses.”
Being “outcome-oriented” is a central theme of Frasier’s teaching philosophy. One way that Frasier helps students achieve in his courses is by challenging them. “Without challenges, there is no accomplishment, no matter how many tests you take,” said Frasier.
For Frasier, it is not just about students knowing what the right answer is but it is also about helping them understand the process of getting to an answer. Frasier’s courses focus not just on answers that can be found in textbooks or by solving equations – he wants his students to understand the context in which answers can be found.
“Professor Frasier makes himself available to all students at all times and is willing to help anyone who is willing to work,” said Liza Poet, who was one of Frasier’s undergraduate students and is now coordinator of undergraduate programs in the same department. “He uses relatable examples, pulling in real life information from areas his students called home. His colorful assignments bring humor and laughter into economics while still providing sound content.”
Outstanding teaching is just one aspect that led to Frasier’s APLU award. He has served on numerous college and university committees including the University Curriculum Committee and the College of Agricultural Sciences Academic Affairs Committee. He was a pioneering force in the college’s efforts to promote dual majors, especially those that combined agricultural and resource economics with animal sciences. He helped establish the Ag Adventure program with brings local third-graders to the college’s Agricultural Research Development and Education Center north of campus to learn about animal and plant agricultural production.
In 2004, Frasier took 21 students on a study abroad trip to New Zealand, a trip that he believes helped transform his teaching. “That trip helped solidify for me that life outside of the classroom can be just as rewarding as what we do within the classroom,” said Frasier. “Attending my classes is important and, in many ways, is essential to student success. But having a full and rich life outside of coursework is part of what makes a well-rounded student. I want my students to feel that they can, and should, have a life that takes them out of the classroom.”
“Marshall Frasier exemplifies our college’s investment in student success – academic success in the classroom and personal and professional success beyond the classroom,” said Ajay Menon, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “He consistently receives high marks from both his students and colleagues, and his continued commitment to helping students grow as individuals, embrace the learning process, and become engaged citizens in their community are just a few reasons why he is so deserving of this award.”