Distinguished Teaching Award: Alan Labouseur ‘90
September 4, 2018 - When Alan Labouseur was an undergraduate computer science major at Marist living in Marian Hall, he never envisioned himself as a professor. Today not only is Dr. Labouseur an Associate Professor of Computer Science, he will be honored at this year’s Convocation with the College’s highest faculty honor, the Board of Trustees Distinguished Teaching Award.
So how did teaching become Dr. Labouseur’s path? Years into a successful consulting career, he was encouraged by a friend to teach a course at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. The experience was the start of a major shift in his life. “Five minutes into that first class, I knew teaching was for me.”
Dr. Labouseur made room for teaching in his professional schedule and eventually went from, in his words, “a lot of consulting and a little teaching to a lot of teaching and a little consulting.” In 2003 he came to Marist at the urging of Dean Roger Norton, joining the faculty of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics and working alongside many of his own former professors—Dean Norton among them.
“Alan is an intelligent, thoughtful, conscientious individual who strives for perfection in everything he does,” said Dean Norton. “I have known Alan for many years. First, as his teacher back in the late 1980’s. Second, when we were doing computer consulting work, and we both had the New York State Office of Mental Health as a client. And finally, in his current role as a professor of computer science. And in all my dealings with Alan, I have always been impressed.”
Dr. Labouseur’s natural enthusiasm for computer science and information technology translates to the classroom. “I spent many years consulting and have a wealth of practical experience in the field. Teaching allows me to put that practice together with theory,” he explained. He works with upperclassmen, teaching them all about programming languages, compilers, and database systems; the latter being a major part of his consulting career. He also works with freshmen, teaching a First Year Seminar on science fiction; his office in the Hancock Center has ample evidence of his affinity for the subject—including Star Trek and James Bond memorabilia.
“Alan is a master teacher,” noted Dean Norton. “Despite the fact that Alan’s courses are considered difficult and they force our students to master challenging topics to be successful, students still clamor to enroll. His courses are always well organized, and he is constantly looking for ways to improve them. He is a brilliant speaker who enjoys being in front of the class, or in front of any audience. And his great sense of humor is just an added bonus.”
For Dr. Labouseur, returning to Marist crystallized a few things. “What I’ve learned is this: Marist is a family,” he explained. “That’s a constant thread here. I’ve had the opportunity to work as a colleague with professors who taught me as an undergraduate. They inspired me, and I try to emulate them to inspire my students.”