2016 Silver Circle winner John Herrmann
Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.
“I believe in the pedagogical application of the golden rule — I teach my students the way I would like to be taught,” says John Herrmann.
“If you’re teaching a three-hour long class, you have to mix it up with some lecture, some media, some discussion, some small group projects, to keep students’ attention focused. You also have to respect the students because not all of them learn the same way, so teaching techniques need to be modified.”
Herrmann is a division affiliate professor in epidemiology and biostatistics at UIC. He’s also a veterinarian with a clinical specialty in theriogenology, “an OBGYN for animals,” and has a master’s in health policy and administration from the UIC School of Public Health.
Herrmann describes himself as an “itinerant professor,” dividing his time between the UIC and the Urbana-Champaign campus, where he is a clinical associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Herrmann teaches or co-teaches several courses in public health at UIC, including critical thinking, health policy and ecologies of health. He also helped establish a joint-degree program between the College of Veterinary Medicine at the Urbana-Champaign campus and the UIC School of Public Health to offer the master of public health and doctor of veterinary medicine degrees. The program accepted its first students in 2006.
Veterinarians are essentially public health practitioners, Herrmann explained.
“It all comes back to the ‘one health’ concept,which recognizes that human, animal and ecosystem health are inextricably linked,” he said. “You can’t have the health of one without the health of the other two. Veterinarians are essential to public health because we bring a broad ‘herd’ health perspective to populations, whether humans or animals.”
Veterinarians are also linked to public health by the fact that they are the crucial partners in investigating and managing zoonotic outbreaks where viruses jump from animals to humans, such as Ebola, rabies, salmonellosis and many others, Herrmann said.