Huntsman Alumni Magazine

Spring 2010

My favorite professor

Professor connects with students, challenging them to contribute and learn

Kaitlin Stewart

By Kaitlin Stewart, contributor

Feeling apprehensive on the first day of school, I walked into my supply chain management class. I had moved back to the United States only two days earlier. Before class started, Vijay Kannan came up and greeted me saying, “Hi Kaitlin! How are you and how was Germany?”

I was impressed that he not only remembered who I was but also knew what I had been up to. After we talked, I noticed that he was calling almost every other student by name and knew what they were involved in as well. I thought to myself, “Wow, this professor really cares about his students.”

I think the professor can either make or break a class. Dr. Kannan definitely made the supply chain management class a memorable and enjoyable experience. He is personable with the students and enthusiastic about the material he teaches. By creating an atmosphere that puts students at ease, he makes it easy for them to participate.

Over the course of the semester, we read many articles focusing on different aspects of the supply chain and analyzed them. We were required to write papers on what we learned from the articles and how the concepts can be applied to supply chain strategy. Then, bringing our knowledge and opinions to the class discussion, each student was expected to ask questions, share comments and contribute.

Vijay Kannan

Dr. Vijay Kannan shares some insight with student Kaitlin Stewart (Photo by Sterling Morris)

With a style different from any other professor I have known, Dr. Kannan focused on engaging the students in class discussion. He pushed students to come to class prepared and ready to learn from one another. We weren’t stuck listening to lectures and taking notes but rather had the opportunity to help create the lecture with our own thoughts, knowledge and perceptions.

Although speaking up in class often pushed me out of my comfort zone, it strengthened my desire to understand the material so I could offer meaningful insights to the discussion. I thoroughly learned and retained the material. In some classes, it seems like there is so much material to cover that students end up memorizing the information and regurgitating it for a test. Although memorizing is sometimes beneficial, it does not sink as deeply beneath the surface as does engaged, real-life application.

“We weren’t stuck listening to lectures and taking notes but rather had the opportunity to help create the lecture with our own thoughts, knowledge and perceptions.”

- Kaitlin Stewart

Dr. Kannan cares about his students, gets to know them all by name and strives to develop not only a teacher-student relationship with them, but a friendship as well. He also shows he cares by adapting his teaching style to the preferred learning style of his students. He is primarily focused on the success of those around him. The fundamental principles I learned in his course will stay with me and help me when I graduate and move into the business world.