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Economic Prof. Edward Cho was teaching his Econ 102 class, macroeconomics, Thursday afternoon when a student raised his hand to ask a question. When called on by Cho, the student asked: “Do you like apples?”
Cho appeared confused and the student reiterated, “What about a golden apple?” The doors at the back of the lecture hall then opened to reveal the other members of the Golden Apple committee, the graduate student instructors for the class and other members of the Economics department, all holding balloons and flowers.
This was how Cho was awarded the Golden Apple Award. After the award selection committee received a record-breaking 1,136 nominations this year, the committee members were very excited to present this award to Cho.
Cho appeared overwhelmed with emotion when he realized that he would be the recipient of the Golden Apple Award, naming him Professor of the Year. The whole lecture hall erupted in cheers, and Cho looked on, smiling from the front of the room. After the award was explained, Cho delivered an impromptu thank you speech.
“When I was a little kid, I thought my dream would be to be a professional wrestler,” Cho started, causing the class to erupt with laughter. “I realized that wasn’t going to happen with this body, and so this is more or less a dream come true.”
This was the 27th annual Golden Apple Award, which is the only award at the University that is comprised soley of student nominations. Economics Prof. Jim Adams, who received the Golden Apple Award in 1998, made a speech in front of the class congratulating Cho on this honor.
“There are about 4,100 members of the instructional faculty at Michigan,” Adams began. “In the entire history of this award, only 26 people have won it. If you do the math, 26 divided by 4,100, you get something under 1 percent. More like one-half of one percent of the faculty at the University of Michigan have won this award. I would say that’s in the A+ category.”
Adams went on to discuss the importance of this award, noting that the fact that it is chosen only by students makes it a particularly priceless recognition for someone who values his students as much as Cho.
However, it isn’t only students who say they love working with Cho — his GSIs, when asked, say they find him to be a great teacher. Rackham student Ivy Tran, who started working with Cho this year, said he has been one of her favorite teachers to work with.
“In terms of the energy he brings to the classroom, (Cho) is really great,” Tran said. “He always has jokes and finds a way to make economics really interesting, even for a graduate student. It’s a way different experience than I ever had taking these courses. He really cares to make sure the students have the resources with me, and I feel like even though it’s a 300-person lecture, each student still feels like they have a personal connection with Dr. Cho.”
During the class, the students had multiple things they chanted throughout the surprise announcement, which students said were things Cho and his students often do as a way of bringing the class together. Cho said “Yuh!” The students responded by repeating the call in unison, laughing as they celebrated this award with their professor.
On April 3, Cho will accept his award and deliver a “last lecture.” LSA senior Rachel Liang, a who was a part of the award selection committee, described the last lecture, which is a tradition that all of the winners of the Golden Apple Award participate in as a reminder that professors should always teach as though it was their last day teaching.
“The theme of the lecture is basically to convey the idea of teaching every day as if it was your last, and giving your best every day to students,” Liang said. “The winner every year embodies that idea and that spirit that we want to spread throughout the University, and that’s why we do what we do.”
At the end of the surprise, Cho gave one final speech to show his gratitude.
“I’m pretty much speechless right now,” Cho said. “You know when in this situation, I have a call that we all understand.”