Outstanding Teaching Award Finalists Announced
The Outstanding Teaching Award Committee announces the 2020 and 2021 Outstanding Teaching Award Finalists! Each year, Kent State University honors full-time, nontenure-track and part-time faculty members who are nominated by their students for being among the most dedicated, highly effective, and motivated professors at Kent State University. The Outstanding Teaching Award is presented by the University Teaching Council. The committee received many excellent nominations for 2020 and 2021. It is wonderful to see how our faculty make an impact on the education and future of our students and community at Kent State University.
The following ten faculty were selected as finalists for the 2020 and 2021 Outstanding Teaching Awards:
Communication Studies, Kent Campus
One might think the proudest moments of my 25-year teaching career might be when the shy, anxious sophomore from my basic public speaking class went on to win second place at the National Forensic Association’s National Speech Tournament under my coaching, or when the inquisitive junior in my relational communication class went on to become one of the most prolific new scholars in the communication discipline. But they are not. I see myself and my work in the classroom as the catalyst for improving students’ personal and professional lives. So, it is the visits, emails, and phone calls from former students thanking me for what they learned in my classes, and how much they have benefited from it that make me proudest.
Pan-African Studies, Kent Campus
Fashion Design and Merchandising, Kent Campus
When asked to describe my most ‘noteworthy teaching accomplishments’ I have found it difficult to ascertain what they are. This has puzzled me as I am never at a loss for words or without an opinion on any given subject. Finally, I realized why I have been unable to satisfy this request. There simply is no single significant or noteworthy experience to describe. Truthfully, every day that I walk into my classroom or lab there are daily trials and triumphs. My noteworthy accomplishments are when one of my students grasps a new concept or skill for the first time, or when another student - after experiencing an all-nighter - achieves his or her desired goal and tackles the assigned project with complete success. It’s not about me, but rather about them: my students. Owning the opportunity to help someone succeed is a ‘noteworthy opportunity’ that I enjoy every day in the Fashion School at Kent State University.
Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Kent Campus
I teach biostatistics at the undergraduate and graduate level in the College of Public Health, and have designed in-person and online versions of the courses. These are the courses that the students are usually the most nervous about taking, so I have tried to offer as much support as I can in the types of learning materials I have created. I participated in the Innovation Intersession Flipped Classroom Workshop to learn about ways to increase engagement in my classes and received a UTC Summer Teaching Grant to create a resource for Public Health students on using Excel. I have integrated technology in a variety of ways to help support students, such as creating tutorials to explain difficult concepts. For the undergraduates, I created an interactive textbook and use an online question platform to increase engagement in the classroom. Both platforms have helped to increase student success.
Engineering Technology, Tuscarawas Campus
Students from our program have participated in the Kent State Film Festival, Undergraduate Research Colloquium, displayed their games in the 2019 “Open World Arcade” event at Akron Art Museum, built a Virtual Gallery for the Akron Art Museum’s 2020 Gamefest, and participated in the 2021 Smithsonian American Art Museum Arcade Game Jam. We have also hosted a Global Game Jam site each year since 2019. Global Game Jam is an international game jam occurring at more than 800 sites around the world over a weekend. Finally, I have helped to host a computer designed art exhibition that includes student and alumni works since 2005. These are all examples of motivating students to take their learning, and work, beyond the classroom.
Lifespan Development and Education Sciences, Kent Campus
I have had many great accomplishments as a teacher: seeing the light come on for students, engaging in captivating, scholarly discussions with them, and becoming friends as they graduate and move on. I've even had the opportunity to work with previous graduates, and it is a fun and proud experience to see them when they come into their own and engage with them more as a colleague. Once, when the class went to a place of employment that hires interpreters, there were pictures on the wall of all the employees. Many of them had gone to Kent State and it was very humbling. My biggest accomplishment, though, is knowing that I, along with other teachers and the deaf community, have been a part of students getting their degree, and making it possible for them to earn a respectable living and make an impact on the deaf and non-deaf communities.
Fashion Design and Merchandising, Kent Campus
William's academic interests include social justice in the apparel industry, fair trade and the international aspects of the fashion industry. He currently teaches Computer Applications for Retailing, leads a fashion study tour to Germany. He is the faculty advisor for the Kent State University Fashion Student's Organization, one of the largest student groups and the largest and oldest fashion group on the Kent Campus. Additionally, William has been involved with the Fashion/Tech Hack-a-thon, the Fashion School's Stoll industrial knitting machines and TechStyleLab. Before coming to Kent State, William taught at Western Michigan University, Iowa State University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and the Izmir University of Economics in Izmir, Turkey. He has done retail consulting, managed several Limited Inc. stores, worked as a bridal sales representative, and has held district and national level visual merchandising and management positions with Sears.
Human Services Technology, Ashtabula Campus
My most noteworthy accomplishment is that I have been able to create an environment where students can learn, grow, and embark upon the lifelong journey of becoming their best selves.
Biological Sciences, Kent Campus
I joined the Department of Biological Sciences in 2013 and have taught first year Biology and Pre-Nursing students ever since. My professional achievements include the Teaching Scholars Program at Kent State in 2014. I have been named a National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences in 2015, and received the University Teaching Council’s Summer Course Redesign Grant in 2020. My favorite moments are when past students follow up long after their introductory coursework to thank me for preparing them for a biology career, and tell me about being admitted to professional schools or programs, or obtaining advanced degrees, or landing a good job. Me and my family are routinely cared for by Kent State graduates at local health care centers and I could not be prouder of their successes.
Department of English, Trumbull Campus
Ana Wetzl, Ph.D., is associate professor of English at Kent State University at Trumbull where she teaches composition and applied linguistics courses. Originally from Romania, Wetzl started teaching at Kent State at Trumbull in 2006, where she was also the English Coordinator in the campus Learning Center. She is currently the advisor for the English Club and is involved with diversity initiatives on campus. Her research has been published in Computers and Composition, Research in the Teaching of Writing, Composition Forum, and Praxis. In 2018, her teaching was recognized by Kent State University with the Undeniably Accessible Award.
The Outstanding Teaching Award Selection Committee will be meeting to select three winners of the 2020 Outstanding Teaching Award and three winners of the 2021 Outstanding Teaching Award. The awards will be presented to recipients on October 22. Congratulations to the 2020 and 2021 finalists!