Kent State Professor Honored With 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award

When her colleagues from Kent State University’s College of Education, Health and Human Services, along with Kent State University Alumni Association staff members, a videographer, photographer, balloons and cookies, surprised her during class, Kent State Associate Professor Maureen Blankemeyer, Ph.D., didn’t know what to think.

“I was a little overwhelmed at first, but this was a very pleasant surprise,” Blankemeyer says.

After receiving nominations from students and submitting teaching evaluations and a statement of her teaching style, Blankemeyer was honored as one of the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award recipients.

“I’m so glad the alumni association and the university acknowledge teaching and put emphasis on that,” Blankemeyer says. “It was that much more special to have my students around when I found out about the award. It was nice that they make a big deal out of this because it’s so easy for me to downplay it and say, ‘I’m just doing my job.’”

Each year, the Kent State Alumni Association recognizes Kent State’s outstanding faculty members by awarding three nominated educators with the Distinguished Teaching Award. The Distinguished Teaching Award is the most prestigious award Kent State presents to full-time, tenure-track faculty members.

Sabrina Low is a student who nominated Blankemeyer for the award.

“She’s the one who got me interested in my field,” Low says. “She is a certified family life educator, which is what I will become. She sets a good precedent to follow.”

Low previously had Blankemeyer as a professor and says she appreciates Blankemeyer’s discussion-oriented teaching style.

“She wants you to think about the subject and is very careful not to lead you in one direction or another,” Low says. “She poses a question and lets you build your own answer, and encourages you to discuss with the class to get a feel for what other people might think.”

While creating a comfortable, discussion-based environment in her class, Blankemeyer challenges her students to move beyond their comfort zones through out-of-class assignments.

“It has been my experience that the most significant learning occurs when students are nudged outside of their comfort zone, while simultaneously being provided ample support to do so,” Blankemeyer says.

Blankemeyer has worked to internationalize the human development and family studies curriculum through pairing her domestic students with international students from the Kent State International Mentors student organization. Blankemeyer also created a 10-day, education-abroad course where students travel to Ireland.

“Ireland is what I call the gateway country because it’s a different country but they still speak English there and have a similar culture to us,” Blankemeyer says. “It gets students outside their comfort zone, but it’s still pretty safe.”

Blankemeyer says her preparation of her documents for the Distinguished Teaching Award helped her realize she is on a new path of introducing international content to her students. It also solidified her appreciation for her job and involvement she has in the lives of her students.

“I’m very fortunate to have a job that I love, and that the part I feel most passionate about is the part that earns recognition,” Blankemeyer says.

For more information about Blankemeyer, visit

For more information about the Distinguished Teaching Award, visit

For more information about the College of Education, Health and Human Services, visit