2016 Outstanding Teaching Award Finalists Announced
Each year, Kent State University honors full-time, nontenure-track and part-time faculty members who are nominated by their students and peers for being among the most dedicated, highly effective and motivated professors at the university. The Outstanding Teaching Award is presented by the University Teaching Council. The three award recipients will be honored at the University Teaching Council’s Celebrating College Teaching conference luncheon and awards ceremony on Oct. 21.
This year’s finalists for the Outstanding Teaching Award are:
Valerie Cubon-Bell, Department of Chemistry, Kent State Trumbull
Valerie Cubon-Bell, Ph.D., is described by her students as a natural-born chemist. According to students, Cubon-Bell brings a levity to dense material and manages to present even the most complex concepts in easily accessible lectures. Students have witnessed Cubon-Bell helping others in class with patience, grace and a warm smile. A transgender student who had been transitioning while taking one of Cubon-Bell’s classes attests to her warmth and kindness that makes everyone feel welcomed and comfortable. Cubon-Bell’s time at Princeton University and her research with NASA make her a valuable source of knowledge, but students say that it is her compassion and empathy that make her stand out among other brilliant minds.
Angela Douglass, M.S.N., Nursing Technology, Kent State East Liverpool
Angela Douglass’ students see her as a professor and mentor who will support them throughout challenges in their careers. According to students, Douglass is passionate about her craft as a nurse and as a teacher. She is a fount of knowledge and experience who has helped students through adversity. Douglass is noted for her willingness to listen and maximum effort in offering positive criticism. She also teaches students to help themselves by making sure they are focused and organized, while also challenging them to think critically.
Robert Eckman, School of Digital Sciences, Kent Campus
Any student who has worked with Robert Eckman can tell that project management is his career and his passion, says a student nominator. Eckman’s breadth of subject knowledge comes from his own experience in the field. He holds each student to high standards that foster growth, and he encourages them to challenge each other. He is always available for consultation, adjusting his own schedule to fit the needs of his students. Eckman goes out of his way to make sure that every one of his students is able to understand and retain the information learned for future success.
Joseph Karpinski, M.T., Construction Management, Kent Campus
Joseph Karpinski is noted for his adaptability when it comes to teaching. Construction management was never meant to be taught online, according to a nominator, but Karpinski’s curriculum format allows students to learn a vast amount about the industry. According to students, Karpinski lives and breathes construction management, and his knowledge of the industry allows him to present information in a way that is easily understandable. His students say he built the program from the ground up in the construction management major. Students admire his passion, and his dedication to the program has not gone unnoticed. Karpinski is constantly looking for ways to improve the program and the student experience.
Harriet McLeod, Ph.D., School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, Kent Campus
Students who have taken Harriet McLeod’s classes say that she is the most enthusiastic professor they have ever encountered. Although some of her classes are early in the morning, students say they were kept engaged by her passion and excitement about the topic. McLeod’s lectures stimulate thinking and keep entire classes involved. Her enthusiasm for textiles has led some students to minor in textiles or switch majors. She also advises a club called Dress Up for Downs that is aimed toward helping those with Down syndrome. McLeod supports her students in and out of the classroom to help their ideas come to fruition.
Don Thacker, MBA, Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Kent State Stark
Don Thacker’s students recognize the value of his teaching method. He makes sure that students comprehend the material by having them apply what they have been taught. Students say that Thacker will go out of his way to help them. One student says that Thacker spent over an hour of his personal time to help with a résumé. Thacker’s love of teaching is evident in his classes, and the real-life scenarios infused in the course material will prove useful to students upon graduation.