Computer Science lecturer Dave Largent loves to see “light bulbs” ignite in his classroom, and goes the extra mile to make sure it happens.
After 12 years as a Ball State educator, Largent’s beaming passion for education has grown by leaps and bounds. He’s committed to ushering students into success, pushing them to realize their potential and helping them every step of the way. His efforts pour beyond campus into the community as he leads cohorts of computer science students in the immersive learning program CS4MS+ (Computer Science for Muncie *and surrounding Schools), helping computer education reach underserved middle and high schoolers.
Among Ball State’s pool of outstanding nominees, Largent was named this year’s institutional winner of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) award, Outstanding Faculty Member for Student Success.
After chatting with numerous students and faculty who’ve been impacted by Largent’s dedication, it’s easy to see why he’s this year’s winner.
On the pursuit of a passion
As he wraps up his 12th year of teaching Ball State students, Largent reflects on his journey to the classroom and the impact he’s made since then.
As a high school student in Villa Park, Illinois, Largent was active in the band all four years and took the typical variety of academic courses, but one course is particularly bold in his memory: Computer Programming. He remembers the class like it was yesterday.
After graduating in 1975 and starting at Manchester University, Largent earned his bachelor’s in Social Work and associate’s in Computer Applications in four years. “I started with no major in mind, ultimately declaring Social Work after a few semesters,” said Largent. “However, I kept taking the occasional computer class to fill out my course schedule each semester, because I enjoyed it in high school. At some point, I realized if I took a couple more specific computer courses, I’d satisfy the associate’s requirements.” Little did he know, his interest education in computer science would continue to bloom in unforeseeable ways.
Soon after college graduation, he embarked on his professional computer programming journey at the Townsend Corporation in Muncie. After 28 years with the company and a little soul searching, he found himself at Ball State in January 2008, enrolled as a master’s student in the Department of Computer Science —at the age of 50.
“Midway through my master coursework, I came to realize that I might enjoy teaching, and shifted my thinking that direction,” said Largent. “As I was completing my master’s degree in the spring of 2010, the opportunity to interview for a contract teaching position in the Computer Science department at BSU presented itself. Despite my enjoyment of working in industry, I’ve found during the last dozen years that I enjoy teaching even more.”
Compassion in the classroom
His students agree and the consensus is clear: Largent strives to meet students where they are.
Computer science student Tisiola Patterson praises Largent for genuinely investing in his students, noting that he fully embodies this award. “Largent has invested in my success as a student by always being available to help and by making coding accessible,” she said. “I’ve always struggled with coding and was very afraid I might’ve had to change my major as soon as I got to college. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and that is thanks to Mr. Largent. I’ve never been more confident in pursuing something.”
Another student, Beethoven Meginnis says “Mr. Largent is probably the most caring and compassionate professor that I have ever had. He goes above and far beyond his responsibilities by extending his office hours to nearly every ounce of free time that he has, even weekends!”
“I have become far more confident in my own abilities because Mr. Largent encourages me when I try new strategies that may at first lead to failure. Because I have a mentor who reassures me when I fail, I am not afraid to embrace ingenuity and fail many times before ultimately seeing success,” added Meginnis.
Largent holds meeting students where they are high on his priority list and close to his heart, working to make his courses fun, interesting, relatable, and accessible to all. Often taking the “flipped classroom” approach and facilitating group discussion in class, he believes in the value of relationship-centered learning.
Geography major William Privett has had Largent in class twice, nearly a decade apart. He says that Largent not only “invests a great deal of time in his students,” but also goes well above and beyond to help students at any hour, day or night.
“I cannot think of a single instructor that I have had the privilege of working with on campus that embodies the spirit of this award more than Mr. Largent,” said Privett. “As a Geography major, my favorite instructor is in a completely different department, and his name is Professor Largent. It pleases me greatly to hear that his efforts are being recognized by more than just his students.”
Dr. Jen Coy, Department Chair of Computer Science, commends Largent’s work toward inclusion in the classroom.
“Dave is one of the most innovative members of the computer science department,” said Coy. “He regularly seeks out instructional techniques which can reach all students, regardless of their background, demographic qualities, or learning tendencies.”
“His passion is for the education of the students, and sharing his experiences as widely as possible – for the benefit of all learners,” added Coy.
The College of Sciences and Humanities feels privileged to have Dave Largent among our cohort of outstanding faculty, and we revere his dedication to the lifelong success of each student who passes through his classroom. Because of educators like Mr. Largent, our students realize their power to change the world, leaving us hopeful and eager for a better tomorrow.