DTA and OTA award professors

Joanna Adolph

Art education instructor Juliann Dorff receives the award for Outstanding Term Teaching Friday during the University Teaching Council’s award ceremony held at the Student Center Ballroom.

Credit: Steve Schirra

“Bless those you call colleagues,” reads the poster on Elizabeth Slanina’s door. “Recognize their potential. Celebrate it. Cherish it. Respect it.”

Each year, that saying comes true as six professors who have been selected for their teaching excellence are recognized at the university’s Conference on College Teaching, which was held Friday. The venue was chosen in order to honor the recipients in front of their peers, said Slanina, an assistant director of alumni relations who coordinates the Distinguished Teaching Awards.

All six of this year’s recipients were presented with a certificate, an engraved crystal apple and $1,500 at the University Teaching Council luncheon. Carolyn Brodie, David Dalton and John Jewell received the Distinguished Teaching Award, which is given to full-time faculty. Juliann Dorff, Sheri Leafgren and Thomas Rutledge received the Outstanding Teaching Award, a parallel award that is given to part-time and non-tenure track faculty.

Aside from the faculty present, students, family and past Distinguished and Outstanding Teaching Award recipients were also at the ceremony. Emeritus Professor Robert Stadulis, a 1982 Distinguished Teaching Award recipient, spoke at this year’s Glenn W. Frank Lecture.

“Remember that in accepting the award, you are reaffirming your continued commitment to teaching, perhaps for the rest of your life,” said Stadulis.

An engraved plaque with the award recipients’ names will be hung on the third floor hallway of the Kent Student Center next to the Schwebel Garden Room. The award recipients will also make up the faculty portion of next year’s awards committee, Eaglen said.

The best part of receiving the award was the nomination came from a student, instructor Sheri Leafgren said, who received the Outstanding Teaching Award.

“I really appreciate the colleagues who said nice things, but it’s really nice that it came from a student to begin with,” Leafgren said.

John Jewell, associate professor of English at the Tuscarawas campus who received a Distinguished Teaching Award, said the most rewarding part of teaching for him is the interaction with his students.

“Don’t tell the university this, but I’d do this job for free if I could support myself some other way,” Jewell said jokingly. “One has to establish a rapport with students early on in the class. Students have to have some level of trust with their instructor.”

The Distinguished Teaching Awards have been presented every year since 1967. This year marks the Outstanding Teaching Award’s 10th anniversary, said Sandra Eaglen, the Outstanding Teaching Award coordinator.

“I care a lot about teaching, so the chance to recognize outstanding teachers whom students have really found a connection with is really affirming for me,” Eaglen said.

Slanina also said she feels the importance of recognizing the university’s professors for their work.

“You could say the faculty are the most memorable thing about the college experience,” Slanina said. “I think back to my own college experience and how much of a difference that can make in a student’s life.”

“You make a difference,” reads the poster on Slanina’s door. “You teach them and they teach you. Every day. Every way.”

Contact alumni affairs reporter Joanna Adolph at [email protected].