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Friday, Dec 19, 2014

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Ken Walsh

University Professor Ken Walsh receives his plaque from one of his students Norman Sommers

Photographer: Chris Franz

Nancy Manring

University Professor Nancy Manring thanks the audience and her students for their support

Photographer: Chris Franz

Youngsun Kim

Youngsun Kim receives his award from University Professor Selection Committee member Katelyn Mefferd

Photographer: Chris Franz

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University Professor Award ceremony honors great teaching


Ohio University honored the recipients of the University Professor Award in a reception on Thursday in the Faculty Commons. 

The 2013-14 recipients are Youngsun Kim, Nancy Manring, Art Trese
and Ken Walsh.

At the reception, three of the four University Professors received their awards from the student members of the University Professor Selection Committee (UPSC) and shared their thoughts on receiving the award. President Roderick J. McDavis delivered the welcome for the ceremony.

The recipients receive $2,000 and an opportunity to create and teach classes of their own choice during the following year, thereby enhancing the university's undergraduate program.

"The University Professor Award ceremony is one of the most moving and real events on the whole campus each year because it brings together faculty and students to celebrate both of them and their work," said David Descutner, associate provost for undergraduate studies. "Above all, it recognizes this campus' singular strength – its extraordinary faculty."

Since its inception in 1970, the University Professor Program has rewarded more than 200 Ohio University professors for their excellence in teaching. Students are asked each year to nominate their favorite professors through an online ballot. The UPSC, comprised entirely of undergraduate students, interviews the top nominees and observes how they interact with students in classes.

After the committee narrows the list down to five candidates, it is sent to the associate provost for academic affairs office for final approval.

Tim Vickers, the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, says that it is important to reward these professors for their hard work.

"We don't have many awards to recognize our teaching faculty as teachers," Vickers said. "We recognize them for their research, scholarship and creativity, but for teaching, there are not many awards. This award is unique because it's the students that do the recognizing."

Trese, a three-time winner of the award who was not able to attend the ceremony, agrees with Vickers.

"Teaching isn't a profession where your clients tend to let you know that they appreciate you all that often," Trese said. "Sometimes, of course, but day to day, especially in large section classes, it is hard to tell if you are really making an impact. Receiving recognition from a student-led committee is very special."

Trese is an associate professor of plant biology who joined Ohio University 22 years ago. His research interest is connected to the local food system, such as how communities can recycle more of their organic food waste. He will discuss the topic of charitable organizations and the effectiveness of their strategies in solving global problems in his course next year titled, "Global Change Through Giving."

Kim is an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders. He is interested in working with people who have swallowing disorders and developing a way to help these patients, a subject that he will be teaching his students in his course next year.

"I felt humbled to get this award," Kim said, stating that listening to his students and helping them out was what won him this honor.

Manring, an associate professor of political science, has brought a deeper focus on environmental sustainability since joining the faculty. She is the cofounder of the Kanawha Project, integrating environmental sustainability issues in the undergraduate curriculum. She will examine how climate change is looked at and talked about in cultural and political settings in her course next year titled "The Politics of Climate Change."

On receiving the award, Manring said, "I feel that the award is an affirmation of my commitment to inspiring and empowering my students as they build environmental knowledge and critical thinking skills."

Walsh is an assistant professor of civil engineering. He has served as faculty adviser to the steel bridge design team and as a judge for the Athens Middle School Science Fair. His proposed University Professor course involves teaching students the different technologies to solving structural vibration control problems in buildings and bridges due to forces such as earthquakes.

Concerning the UPSC, Walsh said the commitment of the students was impressive.

"I think this kind of dedication to preserving the prestige of the University Professor Award is indicative of the quality of students that make up the Ohio University student body," he said.