Daly may have spent the last 20 years researching things like shyness in people. But in a lecture hall of 300 restless college students, shy he is not.
“Teaching is, at its best seduction,” Daly has said. “ Your goal is to have students leave each class thinking what you are teaching is the most important topic in the world.”
Daly came to UT in 1977 because of its extraordinary reputation and his desire to “be a part of something great.” Little did he know over the course of 30-odd years he, too, would build an extraordinary reputation with those he taught.
“Most professors with his credentials are standoffish and aloof,” says Allie Medack, a senior Plan II and Middle Eastern Studies major. “But he was one of the friendliest professors I have ever had. He was fun and easygoing, and he encouraged his students to work hard and really learn the material.”
Daly’s honors and achievements are many. At UT he has received 11 teaching awards, and he is one of fewer than 60 scholars in the world who can boast they are Fellows of the International Communication Association. But a framed piece of paper, many of which are stacked in piles in Daly’s cluttered office, does not make Daly the teacher he is in the classroom.
“The big thing is that good teachers transform people’s lives, and the University is filled with great teachers who care about making students smarter, making them better at what they’re already good at,” Daley says. “I’m lucky enough to teach both small and large classes, and every so often I get to know a student well enough that I think my class changes his or her life in a very good way.”