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History Professor’s Unique Teaching Style Earns Her Distinguished Teaching Award

Posted Jan. 13, 2014
enter photo description
Leslie Heaphy, Ph.D., associate professor of history at
Kent State University at Stark, is surrounded by Kent State
students and co-workers, following her surprise
announcement as recipient of a 2013 Distinguished
Teaching Award.

“I think that Dr. Heaphy lives at Kent State Stark because she is always there to help students at any time,” Robert Simms, a history major, writes in his nomination letter.

Another student writes, “She strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and friendliness; she is approachable, has a clear genuine interest in her students and assists students in setting and reaching goals.”

Nominations like this led to Leslie Heaphy, Ph.D., associate professor of history at Kent State University at Stark, earning one of three 2013 Distinguished Teaching Awards. Each year, the Kent State Alumni Association honors three full-time faculty members who display outstanding teaching qualities with a Distinguished Teaching Award.

Heaphy says she feels honored to receive the award.

“It’s an incredible honor. I feel humbled by the recognition and the fact that students and colleagues view what I do every day as something worthy of such an honor,” she says.

Heaphy believes in not only lecturing students but making learning more of a conversation.

“I believe in teaching in a way that is comfortable to me and represents who I am as a person, meaning that the constantly growing and changing idea of teaching is based on what I learn and the feedback I get from students,” Heaphy says. “My overarching goal is to get students excited about learning and interacting with me and the material.”

Beth Conway, Kent State alumna and former student of Heaphy, enjoyed how she made students truly think about what they are learning.

“Dr. Heaphy’s classes are interactive, and I love that she will ask the ‘why’ questions and encourage group discussion about the underlying reasoning behind things,” Conway writes in a nomination letter. “I would challenge anyone to sit in on one of her classes and fail to leave without being enthralled by stories and eager to do some individual investigation.”

Along with teaching, Heaphy serves as the program coordinator for the Honors Program at Kent State Stark, where she is responsible for arranging the honors classes and faculty, advising the students each semester, working with students to plan activities and overseeing the honors program student council, among other things.

Despite receiving the award and all she does, Heaphy still believes that her best work is done with the students.

“My greatest accomplishments are measured in the successes of my students, big and small," she says. "From the students who have gone on for master’s and Ph.D. degrees to the students who have struggled long and hard, but do graduate, to the students who finally get that A after working so hard for it, I’m proud of all of them.”