An unapologetically tough teacher with a penchant for staging realistic construction management scenarios in his estimating class, senior lecturer Gary Boldt has earned the admiration and respect of many of the Texas A&M construction science students he’s mentored since joining the faculty in 2015.
For his innovative approach to instruction and compassionate support of his students, Boldt recently earned a 2017 Aggies Celebrate Teaching! Transformational Teaching Award from Texas A&M’s Center for Teaching Excellence. He was one of six faculty chosen for the student-nominated honors that came with a $2,000 stipend for each recipient.
“I had never been in a class that demanded so much intellectually from the students,” wrote Bo Hawthorne, a senior construction science major and former combat medic, who nominated Bolt for the teaching award. “Professor Boldt found a way to put more pressure on me in a one four-hour summer class than I experienced in six months of 12-hour combat training.”
However, Hawthorne said, the pressure — enough to make him question his career choice and whether he was up to the task — was countered by Boldt’s support.
“His motivation and belief in students brought out hard work and determination,” said Hawthorne. “After completing his course, I honestly feel I could conquer just about anything academic.”
Boldt’s estimating class mirrors the professional world of construction cost estimating, requiring students to spend hours quantifying building plan information and reading through countless pages of specifications in order to calculate competitive, bid-winning construction cost estimates.
“I believe the harder we push our students, the more they will give back,” Boldt said. “Pressure applied to a piece of coal yields diamonds, so higher expectations yield amazing results from these students, who are fully capable of meeting the challenges.”
In his construction estimation and leadership classes, Boldt also instills in his students the value of ethics, philanthropy and the importance of working to improve and enhance the job environment for construction workers.
His compassion for others includes class community outreach projects, such as when his students volunteered to help residents of the nearby town of Navasota whose homes were wrecked in a storm.
A member of that class, Hawthorne noted in his nomination letter that the charitable initiative inspired him to devote part of his future career to rebuilding schools in disaster areas and developing countries.
Boldt earned a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction from Texas A&M in 1983. Before joining the Department of Construction Science faculty in 2015, he managed a commercial construction business in San Antonio for 29 years.
“I was honored, humbled and astonished to be chosen for the Center for Teaching Excellence award,” he said. “Students are desperate to be challenged and are not afraid of failure. As professors, we hold their futures in our hands; we should do this with extreme care and diligence, and yet not underestimate their capabilities as students and young professionals.”
Other faculty earning the 2017 Aggies Celebrate Teaching! Transformational Teaching Award were: Heidi Campbell, College of Liberal Arts; Gregory Chamitoff, Dwight Look College of Engineering; Scott Cummings, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences; Cable Kurwitz, Dwight Look College of Engineering; and Jake Mowrer, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.