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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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The four 2017-2018 University Professors pose together after the ceremony.

This year's University Professor recipients are (from left to right) Nukhet Sandal, Chao-Yang Lee, Beth Novak and Elizabeth Wangui.

Photographer: Brady Menegay

Interim President David Descutner laughs during the University Professor awards ceremony.

Interim President David Descutner laughs during the University Professor awards ceremony.

Photographer: Brady Menegay

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Four faculty honored at 2017 University Professor award ceremony


On Thursday, April 6, four faculty members were presented with the University Professor (UP) award during the 46th annual awards ceremony. The University Professor award recognizes outstanding teaching at the University. Since its founding in 1970, the UP program has recognized over 200 professors for their teaching excellence.

Each honored faculty receives a monetary stipend and the opportunity to teach a course of their choosing, as a means of enriching the undergraduate curriculum.

“The University Professor award is unique, not just here at OHIO but across the nation, and I am very proud to be associated with it,” said Center for Teaching & Learning Director Tim Vickers.

Recipients are chosen annually from nominations collected from the OHIO student body. Each fall semester, students nominate faculty to be considered for the award, as well as a selection committee composed of 10–14 undergraduate students. This committee holds intensive interviews with ten faculty finalists and observes each of them in class.

“In the students’ UP nomination ballots, we see words that stand out—adjectives like inspirational, knowledgeable, challenging, amazing, caring, passionate,” said Vickers. “What really distinguishes these great faculty members is the care they have for their students. They all have this amazing ability to bring out the best of those who work with them.”

“I feel very honored to receive this prestigious award from our students,” said Nukhet Sandal, one of this year’s recipients. “It is always gratifying to be recognized by one’s colleagues, but ultimately, why we are in this field is the students, whom I call our junior colleagues.”

“I am truly honored to receive this award because the student-led process makes the award particularly meaningful,” said Chao-Yang Lee, another of this year’s recipients. “It shows that students do care about their education—not just grades—and that they are willing to acknowledge a teacher’s effort.”

Speakers at this year’s awards ceremony included Interim President David Descutner and Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Planning Howard Dewald; attendees included winners from each of the past five decades and former University President Charles Ping.

The 2017–2018 University Professor recipients are:

Chao-Yang Lee, Communication Sciences and Disorders
Lee’s proposed course, “Uniquely Human: The Science Behind Speech Communication,” will explore speech anatomy and physiology, acoustics and perception. This knowledge will empower students to understand why certain sounds are preferred by all languages, why men tend to round their lips while talking but women don’t, why Demi Lovato can’t quite hit the high note but Idina Menzel can in “Let It Go” and how speech scientists can help to solve murder cases.

Beth Novak, Media Arts and Studies
Novak’s proposed course is titled “Immersive Environments.” This course will dive into different content delivery methods (e.g., video games, movies, podcasts, theme parks, virtual reality, etc.) that will allow students to study narrative, business and social impact, technology, community, building/disruption, process of development and more.

“The opportunity to teach an interdisciplinary course that interests students from across campus is rare,” said Novak. “I value different perspectives and approaches and look forward to learning just as much from this experience as the students.”

Nukhet Sandal, Political Science
Sandal’s proposed course is titled “Leadership and Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice.” She will focus on causes of conflicts at multiple levels, as well as different approaches to conflict. This course will mostly study national and international conflicts. Students will learn and practice principled negotiation and mediation through role play and case studies.

E. Edna Wangui, Geography
Wangui’s proposed course is “Global Problems, Local Solutions,” in which students will focus on the work of locally-generated initiatives to address problems that have global drivers, such as human trafficking, a growing number of refugees, climate change, food insecurity, and more. The course will feature key local activists and their work, as well as ways local communities can be supported more broadly.

“As teachers, we always take risks as we introduce new topics, use new methodologies or challenge our students’ world view,” said Wangui. “This award tells me that the risks I have taken have paid off.”

Last year’s University Professor honorees were:

  • Michele Clouse, History
  • Michele Morrone, Social & Public Health
  • Michael Pfahl, Sports Administration
  • John Sabraw, Art + Design


The awards ceremony was made possible by the Center for Teaching & Learning in the Office of Instructional Innovation, with support from University College.



The Office of Instructional Innovation (OII) serves as a catalyst to spark bold experimentation and sustainable discovery of promising new approaches to instruction. OII provides a variety of services to academic units and faculty, online programs and students, as well as additional initiatives to further the institution’s mission. Visit www.ohio.edu/instructional-innovation for more information.