JMC’s Jan Leach Honored With Distinguished Teaching Award
Known for her passion for students and involvement in Kent State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Associate Professor Jan Leach is a recipient of a 2016 Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA).
The Distinguished Teaching Award is presented by the University Teaching Council (UTC) to full-time tenured and tenure-track professors who have been teaching at Kent State for a minimum of seven years. The award is given to professors who touch the lives of students and demonstrate excellent teaching in the classroom.
When Leach was surprised with her Distinguished Teaching Award while teaching an ethics class, she buckled at the knees from shock.
“I was so excited because for me this is a dream job and teaching is what I love to do; it’s my favorite thing,” Leach says.
Leach has been a full-time professor since 2007, teaching a multitude of journalism classes including undergraduate- and graduate-level Media Ethics, Writing Across Platforms, Reporting Public Affairs and Copyediting. She also is the director of Kent State’s Media Law Center for Ethics and Access and coordinates and hosts the annual Poynter Kent State University Media Ethics Workshop.
Katie Smith, one of Leach’s nominators and a 2015 graduate of Kent State, says Leach was one of the most enthusiastic professors she had in her time at Kent State.
“Her passion for her work, and more importantly her students, is quite evident," Smith says. "Her knowledge of ethics and the mass communication field as a whole is vast. Professor Leach is a special professor and deserving of recognition for the impact she has on her students.”
Amy Reynolds, dean of the College of Communication of Information at Kent State, wrote a letter in support of Leach highlighting her commitment to putting students first — inside and outside of the classroom.
“Professor Leach encourages our students to bring the best of themselves to everything that they do,” Reynolds writes. “Although Professor Leach does not seek out accolades, she deserves them. She is the embodiment of all of the qualities that the DTA seeks to acknowledge and promote.”
Leach says the best part of her career is being able to introduce something new in the classroom and encourage the spark in her journalism students.
“I always try to change my syllabus every semester in some way to keep it very current but also to add something new that will help the learning process,” Leach says. “You never know who is going to be sitting in your classroom and how they will respond to it.”
For Leach, winning a Distinguished Teaching Award is an affirmation that what she does in the classroom matters.
“It’s like the Pulitzer Prize to me,” Leach says.
Three professors are chosen each year from a list of 10 finalists for the Distinguished Teaching Award. This year’s recipients were honored on Oct. 21 at the UTC Celebrating College Teaching conference’s President’s Luncheon.