Kent State English Professor Wins Outstanding Teaching Award
When a professor says no one has more fun teaching than he does – and the students cite the enthusiasm and passion for the material he teaches – that combination leads to award-winning honors.
Matthew Shank, associate lecturer in Kent State University’s Department of English, recently won the Outstanding Teaching Award for helping his students succeed inside and outside the classroom.
The Outstanding Teaching Award honors exceptional, nontenure-track and part-time faculty members at Kent State. Sponsored by the University Teaching Council, the awards are given each year to three faculty members for their outstanding achievements in teaching.
Shank says winning the award has been one of the most gratifying experiences in his 32 years of teaching at Kent State.
“When I announced on Facebook that I won, I received over 500 ‘likes’ and responses from students I just met this semester to students I taught years ago,” Shank says. “It was like my entire teaching life was passing before my eyes with each name bringing back a memory and a smile.”
Jennifer Shore, ’12, says Shank is one of the few instructors who care about his students on every level.
“He pushes students to drop their preconceived opinions on a topic and approach it with a blank slate, discuss and come away with something incredibly vital in a college setting: a new perspective,” Shore says.
Shank says he listens to students’ feedback through course evaluations and conferences with students.
“Student conferences allow me to get more specific feedback about how the class is working for them or any issues they’re having,” Shank says. “I do learn from this feedback and take to heart any valid criticisms I may get and change my teaching accordingly.”
Shank’s enthusiasm about his courses and the material he teaches motivates his students. Caitlin Shaffer, ’13, says the best memory from Shank’s class was how much extra time he was willing to spend to help students produce the best work possible.
“He influenced me to become the teacher I am today and always make myself available for my students,” Shaffer says.
Shank says that winning the award is great encouragement to him to continue doing the job he loves.
“As I get older, I am mindful of how important it is for me to stay relevant to my students if I want to make a positive impact on their lives, and this award reassures me that I'm still capable of doing that,” Shank says.
For more information about the Outstanding Teaching Award, visit www.kent.edu/utc/teaching-awards.