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Ohio State University logo Recognizing Excellence

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 $3000, made possible by contributions from the Alumni Association, friends of Ohio State, and the Office of Academic Affairs. 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.

Laura M. Deeter
Assistant Professor
Agricultural Technical Institute, Wooster

A role model and friend, students consider Laura M. Deeter to be an amazing teacher who makes learning fun. “She finds unique ways of making students want to learn and feel a kinship with her,” one student commented. Students consistently praise Deeter’s excellence in teaching, her command of the subject matter, and her genuine concern for her students. They rave about her unique approach to the final in her herbaceous plants course, for which Deeter invented CSI/ATI. Students solve the “Garden Murders” through clues from seeds and foliage found on the “victims’ bodies.” To make class more interesting, she converted her presentations to Power Point and made her course materials easily available through WebCT. Deeter has made significant contributions to the horticulture curriculum and is a popular speaker in the field of perennials and gardening. In addition to her success in the classroom, she has served on several ATI committees since her arrival at the university in 2000. Deeter received her Ph.D. in horticulture from Ohio State.

Steven T. Devor
Associate Professor
Sport and Exercise Science Program
Department of Physiology and Cell Biology
Department of Nutrition

“Steven Devor has a passion and enthusiasm for teaching that is evident each time he enters a classroom,” according to one faculty nominator. Admired for his ability to teach to the style and needs of all his students, enabling everyone to understand and integrate course material, Devor has developed a reputation as a gifted teacher whose efforts to make certain undergraduate students are exposed to practical applications of content knowledge is recognized and appreciated. At the end of each course, Devor requests anonymous letters seeking advice and suggestions from students to improve his teaching. His student-friendly, open-door policy helps Devor build relationships with students and facilitates learning. Significantly contributing to the School of Physical Activity and Educational Services through his course development, teaching, and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students, he has helped advance the school’s programming to make it popular with varied class options. Students also recognize his efforts outside the university, where he serves as a member of the local advisory committee for central Ohio’s “Commit to Be Fit” campaign. Devor holds a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from the University of California at Berkeley and joined Ohio State in 1999.

Debra J. Guatelli-Steinberg
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology

Debra J. Guatelli-Steinberg makes anthropology fascinating, and one student wrote that she “benefited greatly from Guatelli-Steinberg’s dedication to making sure students understand the material in their own way and that they use what they learn.” Students appreciate Guatelli-Steinberg’s efforts to encourage the Department of Anthropology to purchase software to conduct virtual labs, in which she can illustrate physical anthropology, primate studies, genetics, and osteology. According to one nominator, “Her teaching is oriented toward addressing three goals: engaging students in the process of anthropological discovery, providing students with a foundation for pursuing further course work, and encouraging students to think both critically and logically.” A highly active instructor and mentor at both Ohio State’s Newark and Columbus campuses, she has chaired and served on many dissertation committees and regularly advises students on meetings, presentations, and job and grant applications. “Her energy infuses a sense of purpose and excitement in all of our students about the discipline,” said one nominator, who also noted her strong presence in leading scholarly outlets has given her a national and international reputation. Guatelli-Steinberg received her Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Oregon and joined Ohio State’s faculty in 2000.

Susan B. Hadley
Department of Dance

Susan B. Hadley is an “amazing teacher who comes to class with a smile on her face and words of inspiration to make students excited to be dancing at 8:45 in the morning,” according to one student nominator. Full of energy, Hadley inspires students to work hard while engaging them in the learning process. Students consistently rate her as one of the top instructors at Ohio State because of the welcoming and dynamic atmosphere she creates in her dance studios. Known for continuously reinventing her music and choreography classes, Hadley’s cross-disciplinary approach to teaching and learning is thrilling for the students, builds a foundation on current dance practices, and encourages further artistic investigation. A choreographer, performer, movement coach, rehearsal director, singer, and imaginative co-conspirator, she works nationally and maintains a close association to the world-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group. As a master dancer, Hadley is constantly sought by students to work on independent studies, senior projects, and graduate projects. Her teaching style reveals a level of sophistication and excitement expected from a top choreographer. Hadley received her M.A. in dance from Ohio State and joined its faculty in 1990.

Blaine W. Lilly
Associate Professor
Department of Industrial, Welding, and Systems Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Students praise Blaine W. Lilly as a gifted instructor who goes above and beyond what is expected of faculty. “His class is a venture into a world of new education,” one student wrote. Lilly’s diverse background of industry experience and academic research in industrial, welding, and systems engineering allows students to gain insight concerning engineering practice in the industry. Lilly supplements the base curriculum with additional readings and case studies that he ties to the textbook to improve comprehension of the subject matter. Aside from the innovation Lilly has applied to course structure, he has a unique ability to captivate students’ attention as a lecturer. His work in ISE/ME 682 is particularly noteworthy, as he has evolved the course into the most popular technical elective in the College of Engineering. In addition, he has worked extensively to enhance the curriculum within the department, primarily on manufacturing courses. The courses he developed have been extremely popular with students, and there is usually a wait list when he teaches them. Lilly also serves on the ISE Undergraduate Studies Committee, the ME Graduate Studies Committee, and the COE Honors Committee and is chair of the IWSE Honors Committee. He also chairs the IWSE Space and Facilities Committee and is a member of the IWSE Manufacturing Committee and a member of the ad-hoc COE Strategic Planning Committee for Design. Lilly received a Ph.D. in industrial systems engineering from Ohio State and has been a part of its faculty since 1986.

Anil K. Makhija
David A. Rismiller Professor in Finance
Professor and Chair, Department of Finance
Associate Dean for Executive Programs, Fisher College of Business

Anil K. Makhija has received nine teaching awards since coming to Ohio State in 1999 and is constantly praised by his students for his organization, knowledge, and responsiveness. One student commented that the Department of Finance professor “ties his teaching to real life examples and current topics and his teaching style is very flexible.” Students appreciate his passion and hard work and commend him on his willingness to work outside the classroom through phone calls at home, pre-quiz prep sessions, and immediate response to e-mail. Makhija’s teaching talents have been particularly useful in the leadership that he has given to academic programs in the Fisher College of Business. He was responsible for developing the Executive MBA program and non-degree programs for executives. He developed and implemented a unique learning model, involving a blend of distance-learning technologies with traditional in-class pedagogy. Makhija joined the Fisher College faculty as professor and associate dean for external programs in 1999. Since 2002, he has served as chair of the Department of Finance and, in 2005, he was appointed the David A. Rismiller Professor of Finance. He excels at teaching not only in graduate level courses, but also in undergraduate and doctoral levels as well. Makhija holds a Ph.D. in finance and applied economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Lee Martin
Department of English
Director of Creative Writing

Lee Martin is known for his unwavering and self-sacrificing devotion of time and energy to help students improve their work. “He brings his many years of experience as a writer to the classroom, but even more than that, he brings his warmth, good humor, and kindness,” one student nominator wrote. Faculty and students alike know his goal as a teacher of creative writing is to give students the guidance they need to appreciate the tradition of literary fiction or essays and to become their own best readers and editors. One colleague wrote, “He is the model of an instructor engaged, excited about his discipline and thoroughly committed to passing on his expansive knowledge to a new generation of writers.” Students praise the quality feedback and help he provides in and out of the classroom setting. A celebrated author whose books draw students to his classes, Martin has published two memoirs, two novels, a co-edited anthology, more than dozen short stories, 15 nonfiction pieces, four essays, and many book reviews throughout his career, and he has been a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and joined Ohio State’s faculty in 2001.

Geoffrey Parker
The Andreas Dorpalen Designated Professor in European History
Department of History

One student described Geoffrey Parker as “an inspiring individual who never compromises his personal warmth and very real interest in individual students.” Inside the classroom, his breadth of knowledge and gentle demeanor augments the learning process and promotes student research. Students value that he continually challenges them to apply themselves to their full potential, both intellectually and professionally. Parker finds time for each student no matter how small the inquiry and makes himself available with expanded office hours. Colleagues consider him to be an innovative, responsible, and extremely effective teacher at all levels of the curriculum. Parker’s world-renowned scholarship is documented in 32 books, especially his path-breaking study, The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road, 1567-1659, and he has developed a number of courses in three areas of the history department, including early modern European history, military history, and world history. Parker holds a Litt.D. for publications in early modern history and a Ph.D. and M.A. in history, all from Cambridge University. He joined Ohio State’s faculty in 1997.

Susan K. Powell
Assistant Professor
School of Music

“Susan Powell’s love of percussion is contagious, and everyone who meets her seems to catch it,” wrote one student nominator. In the studio, Powell instructs her students with systematic, sequential presentation of skills, literature, and artistic expression. Guiding students both musically and personally, she establishes a rapport in the studio that allows student musicians to gain confidence while absorbing all she has to offer. She is much in demand as a teacher and has created a loyal following. Powell directs percussion ensembles, groups engaged in the study and performance of literature written for percussion or arranged for this media by an international body of composers. She is innovative, bringing the Percussion Ensemble Festival, the Greater Columbus Youth Percussion Ensemble, and Drums Downtown to Ohio State. Drums Downtown, a collaboration between the School of Music and the Department of Dance that is performed at the Riffe Center, draws large, appreciative audiences. Known as a world-class performing artist, she performs solo with the Pendulum Percussion Duo and the Shiraz Trio at many local, national, and even international venues. In addition to performing, Powell creates original compositions for her students, some of which have been played in the national arena and published. Powell received a Doctor of Musical Arts in percussion performance from Northwestern University and joined Ohio State’s faculty in 2000.

Dionisio L. Viscarri
Associate Professor
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Newark Campus

Dionisio L. Viscarri’s ability to explain complex concepts and make them seem easy with humor, analogy, and metaphor has made him a favorite among students. One student stated, “It is obvious that he feels deeply responsible for students’ education while in his classroom, and his passion for teaching becomes evident as you get to know and adore him.” To broaden students’ learning environment, Viscarri has organized the Newark campus Foreign Film Festival, evaluated and interviewed prospective tutors, and created the Iberian and Latin American Guest Lecture Series. He serves on the International Advisory Board for the Gale Group’s literary series, Contemporary Authors, and is a member of the editorial board of España Contemporanea. In 2001, he won both of Ohio State Newark’s most prestigious teaching awards, the Thomas J. Evans Teaching Excellence Award and the Barnes Award for Exemplary Teaching, and is the only faculty to receive both honors in the same year. Outside the classroom, his research, focusing on the emergence of fascist discourses and cultural forms in early 20th-century Spain and their development, earned him Newark’s 2005 Scholarly Achievement Award. Viscarri received his Ph.D. in Spanish from Ohio State and joined its faculty in 1998.

2006 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching


Previous winners

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