- Part-Time Teaching Award (2005)
If you've seen the movie Kinsey, you may have smiled at the naiveté of IU undergraduates in the 1950s. Surely today's college students know all about sex, don't they? As it turns out, they still have a lot to learn.
This hardly surprises Elizabeth Mooney, who has spent 40 years educating young people about sexuality and 20 years teaching the subject at IU South Bend. Her instruction goes far beyond essential information about body parts and sexually transmitted diseases. "In a course that touches the essence of humans, their sexuality, I must lead the students to a better understanding of themselves," says Mooney. She highlights the importance of "owning" one's body and treating it with respect.
"This class has taught me more about myself and society as a whole than three-fourths of the classes I have taken thus far," wrote Chris Bell, a business major. "One of the biggest things I learned was the importance of communication in a relationship. Just letting your partner know what you want, what you need, and what you don't like can make all the difference in the world. I have begun to apply this to my everyday life."
Teaching exhilarates Mooney, and she has a powerful effect on her listeners. "I sat in your class and realized that I could still make a difference in people's lives," said Donald Neely, who recently earned a doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. "You were an inspiration to me. Thank you for the mentoring, counsel, and assistance you have given me."
Mooney's main course on Marital Relations and Sexuality attracts 100 students a semester and "has been one of our most popular," says Scott Sernau, chair of the IU South Bend Department of Sociology and Anthropology. "It is not an easy course to teach well. Students may come with deep-seated anxieties and biases, or may come hoping for an easy course. What they find instead is one that is very rigorous and carefully constructed."
Former student Michelle Berry says, "I enjoyed Betty's course not only because of the material, but because she uses her previous careers for many examples relating to class." Mooney's professional experience includes work as a certified sex therapist, consultant, and research associate for the Kinsey Institute. She has served as a Planned Parenthood executive director in three different states, often overseeing clinical or teen services. An expert on adolescence, she gives annual presentations to medical students at the West Virginia School of Orthopedic Medicine.
Mooney has also taught in the IU South Bend Department of Psychology and is frequently invited to address other classes. "She has lectured in my Biology of Women class. These lectures have been wonderful -- well-informed, up-to-date, and interesting. I am always spellbound," says Sandra Winicur, associate professor emerita, who recalls hearing one student advise another, "Take Ms. Mooney's class. She's the best teacher in the school."
In addition, "Betty has been a leader on our campus and in the community, and she is a mentor and role model for new faculty," says Alfred Guillaume Jr., IU South Bend vice chancellor for academic affairs. IU South Bend has honored her singular talents with a Merit Award and Teaching Excellence Recognition Award.
"Ms. Mooney brought sensitivity to the classroom in discussing the tender, and oftentimes awkward, subject of sexuality," says former student K. Monique Gregg. "I confidently entered Ms. Mooney's class thinking there wasn't much left to learn about sexuality after three children and over 30 years of personal experience, but I soon realized she had much knowledge and great wisdom to impart to us all."