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Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching

The Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching honors faculty members for superior teaching. Recipients are nominated by present and former students and colleagues and are chosen by a committee of alumni, students, and faculty. They receive a cash award of $3,000, made possible by contributions from the Alumni Association, graduates, former students, and friends of Ohio State. They also receive a $1,200 increase in their base salaries from the Office of Academic Affairs. The recipients will be inducted into the university's Academy of Teaching, which provides leadership for the improvement of teaching at Ohio State.

Recognizing Excellence at Ohio State

Current University Awards winners

Previous University Awards winners

Click on photo or scroll down the page to read winner's bio.

Lee K. Abbott
Department of English

One student nominator raved highly about Lee K. Abbott as her teacher, despite the fact he had given her the lowest grade she ever received at Ohio State. Abbott is known as an instructor who pushes his students to their limits both artistically and intellectually, but is also considered very protective and proud of their successes. A master of teaching the craft of writing fiction, Abbott is considered the "cornerstone of Ohio State's fiction writing program." Other students who rated him "the best" repeatedly cited Abbott's passion for and knowledge of writing. Considered one of the country's leading writers of short stories and novellas, he has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize, and he has received several major writing awards, including The O. Henry Award for Fiction. Abbott spends most of his time helping his students get published, lending his books, giving professional advice, and writing letters of recommendation, one of which was so finely crafted that during the student's interview, a Fulbright reviewer called the letter "a work of art." He has published several collections of short stories and more than 70 stories in publications such as Atlantic Monthly and The Georgia Review. Abbott holds an M.F.A. from the University of Arkansas.

Michael Davis
School of Music

Preparing students to become self-sufficient is the goal of Michael Davis, but even after they graduate he continues to be a resource and mentor to many of them. This is attributed primarily to the incredible rapport he develops with his students, helping them grow as both musicians and people. His teaching method is described as a process of learning by doing that adjusts to each student's needs. Davis is "not a man about politics or pride — he simply strives to teach and has a passion that shows when he plays." In summarizing his classroom experiences with Davis, one student wrote, "He gave the greatest gift he could — himself." In addition to his instructional duties, Davis is a world-class soloist, orchestral musician, and recording artist who brings his experiences into the classroom and inspires his students to love the violin. His colleagues regard him as a teacher who combines to a rare degree technical acumen and musical excellence. A child prodigy at the age of six, Davis received a Diploma, Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, London. He was also a pupil of Lord Yehudi Menuhin and is considered "one of the very finest violin pedagogues in the country, if not the world."

Joseph F. Donnermeyer
Department of Human and Community Resource Development

Described by several students as an "asset to the university," Joseph F. Donnermeyer makes courses "come to life," promotes student interaction and informative discussions, and is applauded for his enthusiasm and energy. Student comments are overwhelmingly positive and heap praise on Donnermeyer for using props, current news items, comedy, and candy ("almost everyone mentions the candy!," said one nominator) to illustrate sociological principles. Mentoring and "sociological imagination" are the hallmark of his classroom teaching. His students find his enthusiasm for sociology infectious and his courses stimulating: "Not only did I learn interesting, new ideas, but I had fun every day doing it," said one. Nationally and internationally known for his research on issues related to rural crime, Donnermeyer also conducts research on Amish populations in Ohio, which has led to the development of new courses and online delivery formats. As the Graduate Studies chair for rural sociology, Donnermeyer helps students complete their applications and match their statement of intent to respective graduate programs. "This kind of work is invisible, but time-consuming, and reflects a real dedication to the students," said one of his colleagues. Donnermeyer received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Kentucky.

Christopher M. Fairman
Assistant Professor
Moritz College of Law

In the eyes of one law student, Christopher Fairman is "the embodiment of the great educator, and his capacity to touch the lives of his students will continue to shape the high caliber of professionals that Ohio State was founded to create." Nearly every nominator of Fairman echoed that sentiment for the 2004 Alumni Teaching Award. Evaluation forms submitted by Fairman's students "have been nothing short of outstanding — filled with praise for his teaching, his caring attitude toward them, and his approachability," as a colleague noted. In fact, within three years of arriving at Ohio State, Fairman was voted Outstanding Professor of the Year by the 2003 graduating class — a rare honor in only his third year. He has a gift for making complex legal theories into simple and understandable concepts, and his mastery of technology in the classroom to support his lectures is "not only innovative but also fuels the thirst for knowledge in his students." In addition to academic advising, he is often sought for his advice and mentoring beyond graduation, serving as "an incredible role model who shapes academic careers and professional development in countless ways." Fairman received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, Austin.

Joseph P. Green
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology, Lima

A recipient of the 2003 Ohio State Lima Teaching Award, Joseph P. Green is a "teacher for all seasons, engaged in multiple levels of academic involvement," according to a psychology alumna. He is considered a founding member of the first four-year psychology program on a regional campus and played a significant role in its creation to offer nontraditional and place-bound students "a real program — not just a collection of courses to meet degree requirements," as a colleague noted. Green's strengths lie in his attention to creating a balance between and among lectures, demonstrations, discussion, and student presentations, and, as one student put it, "he puts forth an amazing effort to give students information they will need to succeed outside of the college experience." Green has been successful in getting his students interested in active research projects, resulting in student presentations at three professional societies' national meetings. As the advisor to the Psychology Club and psychology honorary Psi Chi — the first regional campus chapter — Green is dedicated to providing increased opportunities for students and "making the program here as rich as possible," according to a colleague, and he is the person students seek for information and advice, particularly about graduate school. Green received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Ohio University.

Klaus Honscheid
Department of Physics

Klaus Honscheid's ability to create a feeling of excitement at both the introductory and advanced level of physics makes him the ideal teacher. Students love being in his class because of his dynamic presentations, charismatic personality, and lively discussions. His "wacky demonstrations," as one student put it, bring physics concepts to the appropriate level for undergraduates. Honscheid has improved and created many new demonstrations for large lecture courses that engage students by allowing them to see, understand, and often feel the demonstration. By creating the new course, Physics 780.20, Introduction to Particle Physics, Honscheid was able to make a detailed and complicated area of physics available to upper-division undergraduate students. He was instrumental in setting up and running the department's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program funded through the National Science Foundation. He is a world leader in experimental particle physics and the fundamental symmetries of nature and has helped establish Ohio State's role in several world-class experiments. Honscheid is also on the cutting edge of educating the community about physics and technology through his work with local area schools. Honscheid earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Bonn, Germany.

Linda S. Houston
Associate Professor
Agricultural Technical Institute, Wooster

Linda S. Houston has developed her teaching style to meet student needs. Not only does she care about her students' well being, but she also challenges and encourages them to do their best. She takes time to give students guidance and help when they need it most and has become an outstanding role model for many. Houston has incorporated service learning into her courses, promoting outreach and engagement within the community. In everything she does, Houston creates a welcoming and supportive environment for all individuals to learn and to grow. Revising and updating courses in ATI's communication curriculum also has been part of her efforts to give students the best education possible. As a longtime member and chair of ATI's Teaching Committee, Houston has planned many faculty leadership sessions on topics ranging from diversity in learning styles to student assessment and engagement. She also serves on ATI's Diversity Committee and the College Diversity Committee, and and also is a member of the President's Council on Women's Issues. Houston was the recipient of the 2000 Ohio State ATI Teaching Award and the 2002 Plimpton Award for Outstanding Teaching by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. She holds a master's degree in speech education from Syracuse University.

Linda Mizejewski
Professor of English and Chair of the Department of Women's Studies

Linda Mizejewski's enthusiastic and unique approach to teaching has made her a favorite among her students. She is one of the best professors, according to one student, while another writes, "she is committed to helping students succeed." Mizejewski's lectures convey her passion for the subject and allow students to discuss and evaluate the topic at hand. As a nationally recognized scholar in the field of feminist media studies, Mizejewski has made significant contributions to both course and program development within the Departments of English and Women's Studies. Her efforts to establish film studies at Ohio State have helped to make film studies classes popular at both the graduate and undergraduate level. In the Department of English, Mizejewski has served on many committees, including two years as the chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee, as well as on the New Personnel Committee, Graduate Placement Committee, Undergraduate Studies Committee, Graduate Committee, Social Committee, and the Eric Walborn Prize Committee. Currently, she serves as the chair of the Department of Women's Studies. Mizejewski holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and joined the Ohio State faculty in 1994.

Martin F. Quigley
Assistant Professor
Department of Horticulture and Crop Science

According to one student, Martin F. Quigley's "energy, enthusiasm, and upbeat attitude are contagious and keep his students coming back for more." Quigley is constantly challenging his students to question standard practice and to think critically. His classes in the horticulture and crop science department are a successful mix of lecture, fieldwork, lab, and one-on-one instruction. He moves his classroom into the field at every opportunity to give his students a better perspective of how classroom principles can be applied. Quigley also excels in his advising abilities. As an academic advisor and advisor for the Associated Landscape Contractors of America Club (ALCA), Quigley has shown a genuine interest in helping students in every way he can. As a result of his teaching and advising, Quigley has received numerous awards including the Excellence in Advising Award from the Landscape and Floriculture Forum student organization, the Teaching Award from the Board of Directors of the American Horticultural Society, and the Advising Award and the Price Advising Award from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Quigley earned his Ph.D. in botany from Louisiana State University.

Stephen J. Summerhill
Associate Professor
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Stephen J. Summerhill is a well-respected scholar in the fields of modern Spanish poetry and Spanish cultural trends. He is also something of a legend in the classroom as a professor of Spanish language and literature, passionate about his subject matter and intent on helping his students grasp complex material. He consistently receives high praise from his students despite the demands he makes on them. Nominators repeatedly describe his classes as challenging and demanding, but "his enthusiasm for the subject was contagious and the feeling he brought into a classroom was addictive." His concern for students is also evident in remarks such as "generously invested much of his time with me," and "I will always remember his genuine desire to help." In addition to his classroom workload, Summerhill is actively involved in advising Honors undergraduates, master's, and doctoral students. His research interests include literary theory, poetics, and 20th-century Spanish literature and philosophy, and his scholarly body of work is impressive, with numerous articles, reviews, and a recently coauthored book, Sinking Columbus. Summerhill holds a doctorate in Modern Spanish Literature from the University of Illinois.

2004 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching


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