Dr. Donald Franceschetti and Dr. Irvin Tankersley received the 2010 Thomas W. Briggs
Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of Memphis. The award recognizes
teaching excellence at the undergraduate level and overall commitment to undergraduate
Franceschetti, a professor of physics, and Tankersley, an accounting professor,
received their $7,500 awards during the University’s annual Faculty Convocation at
the Humphreys School of Law.
Franceschetti has been a member of the U of M faculty for more than 30 years. Over
that time, he has excelled in teaching, research, service and administration. Franceschetti
teaches Introduction to Physics, a general education course for students who have
not previously studied physics. To engage his students, he makes extensive use of
PowerPoint presentations, video clips and computer simulations. His PowerPoints have
garnered attention well beyond Memphis: his PowerPoint on atomic theory is found on
the Internet and has been translated into Portuguese for use at a university in Brazil.
Although he has taught the course many times, Franceschetti strives to make the class
interesting. “He is clearly a genius, but teaches in a way that is not overwhelming
to students,” read one student evaluation. “Class not mandatory, take him, he is great!”
Franceschetti has been involved on a broader university level as well. He was the
first director of the freshman learning communities, Fresh Connections. Franceschetti
is a leader in the U of M initiative in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and
Math) education. He has been an invited speaker on physics tutoring systems and has
written more than 100 articles on a range of topics in physics, math and science.
Tankersley has taught undergraduate classes at the U of M for 37 years, including
large sections of business law. A devoted educator, he is always seeking new and innovative
ways to spark maximum interest of his students in whatever the subject matter.
He has received the Suzanne Downs Palmer Professorship for Excellence in Teaching
and also has been named Honors Professor of the Year. Tankersley strongly supports
the need for providing more writing opportunities for students, and has enhanced the
writing component of his courses. His constructive criticism helps students write
with greater skill.
One colleague calls Tankersley a perfect model for a professor teaching undergraduate
“He is a highly compassionate and dedicated professional who cares about his students
and his department — always the consummate team player,” she said. “Dr. Tankersley
is a dynamic and powerful communicator who possesses the gift of being able to make
complex legal topics understandable. In spite of his exceptional talents, he is a
humble and approachable person who loves to share his extensive legal knowledge with
The Briggs Award, established in 1996, is named for the founder of Welcome Wagon International.