Kent State English Professor’s Passion Leaves a Lasting Impression on His Students

Kent State University English Professor Don-John Dugas, Ph.D., strives to transfer knowledge in a way that inspires passion in his students. Dugas has certainly succeeded in doing so, making him a recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dugas feels humbled to know that his students took the time to nominate him for the Distinguished Teaching Award. He remembers the teachers who helped him along the way and he hopes that he can channel their influences on him to leave a positive impression on his students.

“I am happy if I can recapture some of the energy of teachers who have influenced me throughout my life,” Dugas says.

Throughout the multiple student nomination submissions, one theme was clear: Dugas’s effectiveness stems from his enthusiasm for the subject and his infectious lecture style. One student says, “This professor inspired me to pursue teaching as a career because he does it so passionately and energetically.”

His enthusiasm also causes students to develop a similar interest in whatever subject he is teaching.
A student in his Introduction to Shakespeare class says in her nomination letter, “His eyes light up when he teaches and his passion for the subject is infectious. I talk about what I learn in his class for hours to my friends and family and I find my eyes light up when I say the name Shakespeare now.”

Dugas uses a unique combination of humor and passion to make his lectures relevant and interesting.

“I want to get students involved,” he says. “When students are engaged and have something to say, particularly in larger lecture classes, then I know my teaching style is working.”

Not only does he aim to get them involved, he strives to challenge their ways of thinking.

“I love when students dare to challenge traditional authority with their own opinions by fighting for their point of view,” he says.

Dugas loves teaching at Kent State and recognizes the help he has received from others at the university to make his classes successful.

“Experienced, supportive colleagues and great teaching resources enable faculty here to make the most of their classes,” he says.

He has also done some work and mentoring with students that helped them achieve great success. One of his students attributes her achievement of being accepted into one of the top 20 English Literature Ph.D. programs in the U.S. to Dugas advising her on her submissions essay. Another student was named a 2010 Portz Scholar after working with Dugas on her senior honors thesis. He is truly dedicated to mentoring students and helping them succeed.

Although Dugas has been lauded for his teaching style many times, he admits that he has not finished developing his teaching techniques.

“I want to try connecting with the modern student by incorporating the use of technology without robbing students of the pure experience they have with a text,” he says.

Dugas also relies on student feedback to fine-tune his approach to teaching his various classes.

Dugas has had many impressive accomplishments throughout his teaching career, including receiving the 2010 Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring Award and the 2011 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award, and now he has been set apart as a distinguished teacher because of his desire to help and connect with individual students.

Time and time again, students in their feedback surveys declare Dugas as the best professor they have had at Kent State. His knowledge, humor, passion and energy leave lasting impressions on his students and make him a deserving winner of the 2012 Distinguished Teaching Award.

For more information on the Distinguished Teaching Award, visit

To view a video of all three Distinguished Teaching Award recipients, click here.

POSTED: Monday, March 11, 2013 10:55 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 3, 2022 01:02 AM