UA Criminology Instructor Rated No. 1 College Professor in U.S.
The popular criminology and criminal justice professor is no stranger to national accolades, as he was also named Forbes' best professor in the country in 2017.
"I teach a lot of students and each of my intro classes can average up, actually, about 110 students or so. It's a lot of students but I'm glad that they have positive things to say about my teaching and about my classes," Klutz said.
Klutz said that he found his love for teaching while working on his Master of Public Administration at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He said he was studying for a career in "federal law enforcement or something related to the federal government" prior to the 2008 recession.
After a brief stint with the Department of Defense, Klutz began his teaching career in 2011, where his average class size averaged around 150 students. As time passed, those classes grew to over 400 students in a term.
Even with larger classes and the newfound remote instruction models this year, Klutz said he strives to teach the same way.
"I still try to have as much classroom discussion as possible and, obviously, now we're in different times with things being mostly online," Klutz said. "But [I want] to still have as much classroom discussion possible [and] still meet with students when they want to discuss concepts with you on a one-on-one basis."
Students who have taken his class remember his calm demeanor and how he was able to connect with students despite being taught in a large auditorium. Alumna Ashley Hudson said Klutz was one of the first professors she had at UA when she transferred to Tuscaloosa in 2016. She said Klutz's laid back personality made her more comfortable transferring to a bigger school.
"It was just really easy to tell he was passionate about what he was talking about, that he wanted to talk to us, and I was in one of the 400-person classes," Hudson said.
Senior Abigail Snook also took one of Klutz's classes during her freshman year, stating that he "genuinely cares about his students." For Snook, that care for his students was never more evident than last spring, where she reached out to Klutz for some help registering for classes.
After taking a brief hiatus from school, Snook decided to make a return to UA to finish her criminal justice degree, now as a distance learner. After not hearing from her adviser and with registration just a few days away, she reached out to Klutz for some advice and he responded within an hour.
"I emailed him because he used to be my old adviser, you know, so many years ago," Snook said. "He responded within the hour with multiple resources, gave me advice, asked me if he could do anything else and he wasn't my adviser. We probably hadn't talked for years at that point, but he took the time to respond to me."
Klutz, who now serves as the advising and internship director for the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said that students only need "one success story to really come through and start building into something bigger." In order to help students find that next opportunity, he often uses Linkedin and Twitter to post about internships and related networking opportunities.
"I always tell [the students] the internships are really critical in networking and building your resume and getting ready for that entry-level position, and seeing those students along the way develop internship experience and then translate that ... into that entry-level job that they really are striving for," Klutz said. "That's very gratifying because that's what it's all about at the end of the day: trying to build and bridge that academic career with that entry-level job."
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