Kent State Mathematics Professor Wins Outstanding Teaching Award
Passion. Interest. Generosity. For part-time Kent State University math instructor Randy Ruchotzke, these are tools of the trade. For his students, they define qualities that led to Ruchotzke’s being nominated and earning an Outstanding Teaching Award.
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 every year to three faculty members for their outstanding achievements in teaching.
“My favorite part about working at Kent State is easily the joy I get from interacting with the students in my classes,” says Ruchotzke. “It is fun to watch as the pieces of the math puzzle start to fall in place.”
Ruchotzke has worked at Kent State since 1995 in various departments and job roles. He began his career at the university as a tutor at the Academic Success Center, in the College of Undergraduate Studies. Shortly thereafter, Ruchotzke began teaching math at Kent State. For the years between 1995 and 2012, his duties were split between teaching and his expanding role as a coordinator of University Tutoring at the Academic Success Center.
“I started at the Academic Success Center as a half-time co-coordinator, under the title of a math learning specialist,” says Ruchotzke. “Most of what I did then was in support of a TRIO grant that targeted low-income, first-generation college students, as well as students with a documented disability.”
In addition, Ruchotzke has been a tutor in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the leader of the University Tutoring program. He also started and managed a nighttime tutor program for math, housed in residence halls on campus.
Ruchotzke was nominated two previous times for the Outstanding Teaching Award and was a finalist in 2005.
“This feels terrific,” says Ruchotzke. “I put a lot of work into my craft, and it’s nice to be recognized and awarded for the effort that I do put in.”
Ruchotzke says he believes in setting high standards for his students through his exams and assignments.
“I really want them to realize it’s in their best interest to try to reach high standards,” says Ruchotzke. "I also try to get students to connect the little things in math to the overall, big picture of the course. For me, that is when this subject gets interesting; all of the related interplay between that, at first glance, seems to be some random ideas.”
Junior anthropology major Joe Spinhirny nominated Ruchotzke for the Outstanding Teaching Award.
“He truly cares to see his students succeed and will do anything to make that happen,” says Spinhirny.
Spinhirny says last year when he was struggling in his trigonometry class, Ruchotzke contacted him personally and offered to tutor him. Ruchotzke adjusted his time outside of his classroom and office hours to meet with Spinhirny to ensure he would succeed in the class.
Ruchotzke has taught courses in calculus, trigonometry, algebra, basic math concepts I and II and statistics, as well as courses to help prepare students for college-level math courses, which currently are basic algebra classes taught in the Math Emporium located in University Library.
“He truly has influenced my life in a positive manner by going above and beyond the duties of just an everyday professor,” says Spinhirny. “I feel privileged to have had him as an instructor and hope he will continue to influence and change the lives of students.”