Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Conyers receives teaching award for doing what he loves

Larry Conyers

Professor Larry Conyers accepts the Distinguished Teaching Award at DU's Convocation in October.

When most teenagers were still learning how to drive and getting ready for their junior or senior year in high school, Larry Conyers was in classes at Oregon State University. The DU professor of anthropology remembers taking his first college class at age 17.

“The professor was dynamic and engaging; he was extraordinary,” Conyers says. “I thought, wow, I’d love that job.”

Instead, Conyers pursued a career in geology and didn’t start teaching until 20 years later. Today, Conyers not only has the job but was awarded the 2010 Distinguished Teaching Award at DU’s Convocation in October.

“I can’t believe they pay me to do this,” he says.

As excited as Conyers is about teaching, his students and colleagues are equally as enthusiastic about him.

Kimberly Henderson (MA anthropology ’04) says Conyers strives to know his students and never loses track of their progress.

“He truly believes in each and every one of his students and his persistence to see them through to success is not only admirable, but rare,” she says.

Michele Koons (MA anthropology ’06) says she felt Conyers was the first professor who genuinely cared about her.

“He always pushed and challenged me to achieve things I never imagined possible and he always took the time — and still takes the time — to offer support and guidance,” says Koons, now a PhD candidate in anthropology at Harvard University. “I am in Peru directing my own archaeological project. I would never have made it to this point without Larry’s support.”

Conyers says he doesn’t have any teaching secrets, he just shares from his experiences. He has traveled the world using ground-penetrating radar to collect information below the surface of the ground. It’s a way to help archaeologists better determine where they should dig. 

“Larry has parlayed his professional status as one of the world’s leading experts in the application of high-tech field methods in archaeology into numerous research opportunities for our students both in the States and abroad,” says Dean Saitta, professor and chair of DU’s anthropology department. “He’s a superb mentor, research partner and advocate for our students.”

As for the award, Conyers says, “I’m surprised because I had no idea that I could get an award for something I consider the most fun you can have.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *