Manchee: Mutual admiration

Holiday cards with illustrations of road signs hang on a wall in Doug Manchee’s office. The cards, from his students, symbolize what may be considered a Manchee mantra of teaching: providing guidance.

“I think that your job is to point them in directions that might influence them,” says Manchee. “There is so much out there.”

Manchee, a recipient of an Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching, credits a handful of professors at San Francisco State University as the beacons on his road of learning. “They were inspiring. The one thing about all of them was they had this astonishing energy. I think what I try to emulate is this wonderment of what the kids do. With my teachers, there was no bitterness or anger. There was no, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ There was this dialogue and it was the greatest way to learn.”

And Manchee encourages open dialogue in his classes. “I love to be challenged and told ‘that isn’t quite the right way to see it.’ That encourages debate and also helps the student advocate for his way of looking at things.”

Manchee, a native of Pittsford, N.Y., moved back to the area with his wife and two sons in 1989. While working as a freelance photographer, he started teaching part-time in the School of Design in 1991. Manchee says he “wandered” over to the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences in 1993 curious to learn more about it. Soon he began teaching advertising photography—a path he continues to follow. At the start of the 2004-05 academic year, he was appointed chair of the advertising photography department.

Manchee uses outlines in his classes, but his lectures sometimes go off on tangents. “I think that in what I do it’s often good to veer off course a little bit and talk about something that’s different, but relevant. It could be film, it could be fiction, it could be fine art, it could be anything. What we [advertising photographers] do is inclusive of many other things so I have to be flexible and keep my options open.”

Having a sense of humor is another of Manchee’s teaching recommendations. “You have to be serious about what you do, but you can’t take yourself too seriously.” A poster of three guys who don’t take themselves too seriously—The Three Stooges—hangs on Manchee’s wall.

Among the displayed holiday cards is a Valentine’s Day card signed by dozens of students. The admiration is mutual. “The kids here are great. They always have been. I love their curiosity and their willingness to learn. Far and away the best thing I love about my job is to walk into a classroom.”

Since 1965, RIT’s Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching have honored and celebrated faculty excellence. Up to four awards are given each year to recipients in various RIT programs. Winners are chosen through rigorous peer review of student nominations. This year, three professors will receive the awards during the academic convocation on Friday, May 20.

The Eisenhart family, for whom the awards are named, has a long history with RIT. The late M. Herbert Eisenhart, president and board chairman of Bausch & Lomb, was an RIT trustee for more than 50 years. Richard Eisenhart continues the RIT connection, serving on the board since 1972, as chairman for six years and now as trustee emeritus.

RIT News & Events, May 13, 2005