Dr. Larry Tyler Recognized for 55 Years of Teaching

May 2, 2018

Professor Larry D. Tyler was recognized by Interim President Greg Postel, Interim Provost Dale Billingsley and Interim Dean of Speed School Gail DePuy.Engineering Fundamentals professor, Dr. Larry Tyler was recognized recently for 55 years of dedicated service by the interim president & acting executive vice president and university provost. In his 55th year of service at the University, Tyler was one of, if not the first professor to achieve 50 years of service, and continues to challenge that achievement every day.

“I set a record every day," said Tyler. "And I’m probably far ahead of even the faculty that have been here for 50 years in terms of semesters, because Speed School is a yearly school.”

Tyler has taught a variety of courses over the years, beyond the introductory coursework that he currently works in. During that time, Tyler has touched a lot of lives, including, but not limited to a number of his contemporaries in the Speed School like former interim dean John Usher, Department of Engineering Fundamentals Chair Patricia Ralston, and many more.

"I entered Speed in the fall of 1975, and I clearly remember the classroom environment he created.  All were encouraged to be dedicated, to be disciplined and to achieve. He showed us more respect than many of us had for ourselves. His obvious concern for students’ learning and success drew me to seek his counsel, and he continued to mentor me after I completed the mathematics sequence," said Dr. Pat Ralston, chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals.

Dr. John Usher of the Department of Industrial Engineering added, "Larry Tyler is an engineering hero and living legend here at Speed School. He has positively impacted many thousands of students, including me way back in 1977, by being an amazing teacher and mentor. He has spent more than five decades teaching students how to be better people and better engineers. He still gets here early and works hard every day with energy and passion for engineering education that is truly inspiring. I am so glad to have had the chance to work with him and look forward to many more years."

He has achieved a variety of accomplishments, including hosting a variety hour television series on local television, where he employed his engineering acumen to the then nascent field of audio production. He was there at the inception and development of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals, a relatively unique program that focuses on engineering pedagogy, while reinforcing basics.

During his tenure, the world has undergone radical, if seemingly glacial changes, from the use of chalk and whiteboards, to in-class projectors and on to the digital age. While the technology and methodology evolve with the times, the constituent student body remains relatively static. Via his role in Engineering Fundamentals, Tyler not only sees a majority of the students coming in, but is happy to help them transition into the grind.

“When they ask me if they ask me if the students are any better or worse now, I say no. Some of the differences I’ve noticed is that they’re in to computer games more and maybe less athletic," said Tyler. "We didn’t have people going around with a computer in their face. The students haven’t gotten worse. ACT scores have improved, but I’m not sure they are a lot better than they were. We’re getting better students, but we’re also getting more students,”

Since 1963, Tyler has worked continuously for three semesters per year, without even one sabbatical during that time frame. That singular dedication to his craft underscores a rigorous, and almost zen-like methodology that drives his passion to continue to grow and evolve his teaching. 

“I learn something new every day. I’ve learned there are a lot of people smarter than I am coming through as students." Tyler said. "I’ve probably learned how to convey concepts to students efficiently and certainly better. I’m better equipped now than when I started teaching of being able to convey concepts and trying to get students to learn those, relate to, and learn.”

An entry on ratemyprofessor.com reads that Tyler "does a great job. (He) has the wisdom of many years and can be amusing with stories and interactions with 2nd prof., Dr. Ralston. Material is covered very quickly, like having a fire hose in your face. But effort will reap reward and its worth it to have Dr. Tyler."

"He gave me advice that has served me life-long:  'Stay focused on clearly defined goals, work steadily to achieve them, and continually re-evaluate to improve.' He validated my own interest in teaching and convinced me to go to graduate school," said Ralston. "He has been a motivating and inspiring force behind all I have been able to achieve at Speed School."

For Tyler, there is no endgame in sight, other than to continue his work as an educator as long as he physically can. An incredibly sharp and conversational speaker, Tyler is an approachable alley to incoming freshman, priding himself on the relationships he has helped to foster over the years.

“You're always one dean or chair away from retirement." Tyler said. " As long as my health is good, I’ll be here.”