2021 Distinguished Teaching Award Recipients Announced

The 2021 Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) recipients are an outstanding group of teachers who are truly dedicated to their students' success. Sponsored by the Kent State Alumni Association, the DTA is a highly prestigious honor in teaching. The award is presented annually to three full-time faculty members who demonstrate extraordinary teaching, whether it be in the classroom or online.

Congratulations to this year's recipients:

Katrina R. Bloch, Ph.D., Sociology, Stark Campus

Katrina R. Bloch, Ph.D., strives to help her students adopt a sociological lens. She believes that students who view themselves as part of a social system and active social agents within it also gain an appreciation for the importance of sociology as a discipline. Her open and honest classroom environment encourages students to reach their fullest potential in her courses and beyond.  

She also provides students with experiential learning opportunities as a tool to connect research and theory to students’ lives. While she has worked to continuously improve her pedagogy throughout her career, she credits her students’ role in that process too. Dr. Bloch said, “My students rise to the occasion and push me to always improve and do better.”

Julie K. Cremeans-Smith, Ph.D., Psychology, Stark Campus

Julie K. Cremeans-Smith, Ph.D., not only challenges her students to understand mental health struggles and conditions, but to understand, and even adopt, strategies for successful coping and resilience. Her classroom carries a culture of care and concern, where everyone is capable of success. The engaging and inspiring nature of her teaching style leads many students to pursue additional psychology courses. 

She frequently asks students to reflect on their lived experiences, analyzing them through the lens of course materials. Both in and out of the classroom, Dr. Cremeans-Smith connects students with resources regarding career pathways and research opportunities. She explained, “I devote myself to mentoring undergraduate students in research; I believe quite strongly in the value of research experiences for students.”

Donna Lee, DMA, Music, Kent Campus

Donna Lee, DMA, has been teaching piano at Kent State University for 22 years. She not only prepares her students to fulfill their curricular requirements in piano performance, but to understand the high level of dedication and work it takes to make a piece performance worthy through technical command, structural awareness, stylistic understanding and artistic expression. 

She leads by example, performing on and off campus frequently to provide opportunities for students to see her polished programs. Her passion for music is evident to her students and anyone else who has heard her play. Dr. Lee shared, “I recognize the awe-inspiring power that music can have; the means it holds to trigger an emotion, a memory or an experience in an unsuspecting listener.” 

Through hard work, dedication and inspiration to their students, these professors join more than 150 teachers who have received the DTA since its inception in 1967. They were honored alongside the 2021 DTA finalists and other outstanding Kent State faculty at the University Teaching Council Conference on Oct. 22, 2021.


Congratulations to the 2021 DTA Finalists:

  • Jeffrey T. Child, Ph.D., Communication Studies, Kent Campus
  • Bradley S. Keefer, Ph.D., History, Ashtabula Campus
  • Jeffrey A. Osikiewicz, Ph.D., Mathematical Sciences, Tuscarawas Campus
  • Mark K. Schatz, Art, Kent Campus
  • Gregory A. Smith, Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Stark Campus
  • Gregory S. Stroh, Architecture Program, Kent Campus
  • Donald L. White, Ph.D., Mathematical Sciences, Kent Campus
POSTED: Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 12:58pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 4:33pm