Distinguished Teaching Award nominations due June 30

Lyndsey Schley

The Alumni Association is accepting nominations for the Distinguished Teaching Award through their website until June 30.

The Award has recognized three faculty members each year since it was established in 1967, said Nancy Schiappa, associate director of alumni relations.

“Faculty have a great impact on their students,” Schiappa said. “[The Alumni Association] wanted to come up with a distinguished recognition for those faculty members who had really had a great impact on classroom teaching. We wanted to focus the award on those skillsets, characteristics and so forth that really focused on engaging the student during that period of time when they’re in the classroom.”

Award recipients receive a $1,500 cash prize and a crystal apple award, Schiappa said. The recipients are honored at a luncheon during the annual The University Teaching Council Conference. The association also announces the award in one of the professor’s classes and brings snacks.

Students, alumni, faculty and staff are eligible to nominate faculty, Schiappa said. The nomination form asks for some basic information from the nominator. The form includes questions aimed to determine what makes each teacher “distinguished”.

“Faculty are sort of overwhelmed by even being nominated,” Schiappa said. “Recognizing others is a good habit to get in. We don’t recognize each other for the good that’s going on enough.”

Schiappa suggests the nomination should be an average of five to eight paragraphs. Nominators should be specific on their forms, Schiappa said.

“The more descriptive, the better,” Schiappa said. “It’s kind of hard when you just say, ’Professor So-and-so is outstanding.’ Describe to us what outstanding means to you.”

A committee of alumni and students goes through the nominations and chooses 10 finalists, Schiappa said. These finalists prepare a teaching portfolio to be judged by the committee. The committee uses these to select the three winners.

Professor Don-John Dugas was one of last year’s recipients. Receiving the award was one of the happiest days of his life, Dugas said.

“Just finding out I’d made the short-list felt great because I knew that meant a lot of students got enough out of my courses to nominate me,” Dugas said. “When Nancy Schiappa and her fantastic crew from the Alumni Association sprang the news on me that I’d actually won, I was floored, thrilled, honored, and humbled—all in the span of about fifteen seconds. Administrations and priorities change over the years, but the Alumni Association’s dedication to recognizing some of the great teaching that goes on at Kent State is as constant as it is noble.”

Dugas said tries to base his teaching strategy on those of the teachers that had the biggest impact on him.

“The best teachers I’ve had were all passionate, energetic, rigorous, provocative and humorous, to boot,” Dugas said. “But just because something worked on me, doesn’t guarantee it will work on every student, so I also try to tailor what I do to the direct and indirect feedback students give me about what’s working and isn’t.”

The Alumni Association will announce the recipients in September or October, Schiappa said.

Contact Lyndsey Schley at [email protected].