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Five OHIO professors honored in magazine’s ‘Excellence in Education’ issue


Five Ohio University faculty members are among the more than 65 educators from across the state being recognized in Ohio Magazine’s annual “Excellence in Education” issue.

Each December, Ohio Magazine celebrates outstanding faculty members at college and universities throughout the state in its “Excellence in Education” feature. Criteria for this honor include:

  • An individual’s teaching excellence
  • Participation in professional development activities
  • Interest in student success outside of the classroom or laboratory
  • Distinction as a member of the academic community

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost nominated the five OHIO faculty members being featured this year. These five individuals hail from OHIO’s Athens and Lancaster campuses and were either finalists or winners of Ohio University teaching awards. 

The five OHIO faculty members featured in the magazine are:

Professor of Music Roger Braun and Andre Gribou (on piano) improvise music for an audience of composition students at the Glidden Rehearsal Hall.

Professor of Music Roger Braun and Andre Gribou (on piano) improvise music for an audience of composition students at the Glidden Rehearsal Hall. Photo by Ben Siegel

Roger Braun is a professor and director of percussion studies in the College of Fine Arts’ School of Music. His inclusion in Ohio Magazine’s “Excellence in Education” issue follows being named the recipient of OHIO’s 2016 Presidential Teacher Award earlier this year. 

“I was honored to be nominated,” Braun said about being featured in the magazine. “Faculty across Ohio University and elsewhere do incredible, important work. It’s great to take the time to celebrate the impact of education at all levels in our society.”

A diverse performer, Braun’s professional experience spans many genres of music. He has performed throughout the United States and beyond, and his accolades include serving as a percussionist for Broadway touring show productions that include “Beauty and the Beast,” “Titanic” and “Ragtime.”

At OHIO, Braun seeks to help his students develop not only as musicians and individuals, but to find success in the challenging field of music. What he finds most exciting as an educator is the point at which his students master proficiencies and begin to develop their individual strengths and interests.

“I believe that student learning in my program extends beyond the classroom,” he said. “My work with students is a progression from me leading the way to them finding their own voice and path in music and their career.”

Klaus Himmeldirk, senior lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry, is pictured in his Ohio University laboratory.

Klaus Himmeldirk, senior lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry, is pictured in his Ohio University laboratory. Photo by Ben Siegel

Klaus Himmeldirk is a senior lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Earlier this year, he was named the inaugural recipient of the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

“I was surprised but happy to be nominated,” Dr. Himmeldirk said of being featured in Ohio Magazine. “I feel honored to be considered for a recognition of my efforts in teaching.”

Dr. Himmeldirk’s research focuses on the chemistry of thiazolium ions (Vitamin B1) and the discovery of new anti-diabetic drugs that are derivatives from polyphenols (hydrolysable tannins). At OHIO, he can be found teaching organic chemistry laboratory classes where he focuses on developing a more efficient, thought-provoking classroom experience. 

“Learning happens when the minds of my students are willing to engage with the material that I present,” Dr. Himmeldirk explained.

Recognizing that the majority of his students are not seeking careers in organic chemistry, Dr. Himmeldirk employs a teaching philosophy designed to foster an appreciation for organic chemistry and to see the value in learning about it. 

“One way to achieve this is by showing my students that organic chemistry can be a fun and a highly creative experience… to show the relevance chemistry has in our everyday lives,” Dr. Himmeldirk explained. “If I am able to convince my students that chemistry is fun and relevant, the chances that knowledge will be retained long after a final exam will be much improved.”

Lancaster Campus Associate Lecturer Pamela Kaylor is one of five OHIO faculty members being featured in Ohio Magazine’s “Excellence in Education” issue.

Lancaster Campus Associate Lecturer Pamela Kaylor is one of five OHIO faculty members being featured in Ohio Magazine’s “Excellence in Education” issue. Photo courtesy of Ohio University Lancaster

Pamela Kaylor is an associate lecturer at Ohio University Lancaster who teaches courses in women’s and gender studies as well as communications. She was among three finalists for the 2016 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Kaylor’s primary areas of instructional interest include qualitative research, gendered communication, intercultural communication and rhetoric. She has presented papers, and her accolades include serving on panels at numerous conferences and as an invited speaker for women’s organizations.

“It was quite an honor to find that I had been nominated,” Dr. Kaylor said of being selected for Ohio Magazine’s “Excellence in Education” issue. 

Dr. Kaylor believes in engaging students in the classroom and that real learning takes place in lively student discussions and critical thinking. She also believes that, as an educator, she should serve her students as coach, mentor, role model, facilitator of the learning experience, and an agent for change.

Most importantly, Dr. Kaylor plays the role of student by learning from the classroom experience itself, keeping abreast of current research and incorporating that knowledge into present and future teaching.

“One reason I love academia is because I love learning and have a commitment to always keep evolving in my own life,” Dr. Kaylor said. “I learn from my students every day as well as from the work of other teachers and researchers.”

Associate Professor of Mathematics Bob Klein examines ancient math text with his students at Alden Library in this April 2014 file photo.

Associate Professor of Mathematics Bob Klein examines ancient math text with his students at Alden Library in this April 2014 file photo. Photo by Lauren Pond

Bob Klein is an associate professor of mathematics in OHIO’s College of Arts and Sciences and also serves as the department’s chair of undergraduate studies. In 2015, he was named a Presidential Teacher Award winner.

Dr. Klein’s Presidential Teacher Award as well as his Ohio Magazine feature recognizes his passion for teaching and learning, his teaching innovations, his contributions to the mathematics department, his ability to energize and motivate students in the learning of math, and his considerable outreach well beyond his college and the University. In addition to educating and mentoring OHIO students, Dr. Klein is co-founder of the Southeast Ohio Math Teachers’ Circle and the Math League of Southeast Ohio and is involved in the Navajo Nation Math Circle Project.

“I was surprised and humbled to be recognized for excellence in education, especially because I am surrounded by so many amazing educators at Ohio University who impress me on a daily basis with their commitment, compassion and skills as educators,” Dr. Klein said.

Teaching and learning for Dr. Klein means both the student and the teacher develop together. 

“The less talking I do in class, the more listening I do, the better teacher I become,” he explained. “I love our vibrant, dynamic Bobcat community and am grateful every day to be a part of it.”

Assistant Professor Lauren McMills is seen in her Ohio University office.

Assistant Professor Lauren McMills is seen in her Ohio University office. Photo by Ben Siegel

Lauren McMills is an assistant professor and undergraduate chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at OHIO’s College of Arts and Sciences. She was a finalist for both the 2015 and 2016 Presidential Teacher Award.

Dr. McMills’ scholarly interests include solid state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, magnetic susceptibility, chemical education, and peer-led team learning and active learning. 

“I am honored and humbled by the nomination,” Dr. McMills said of being selected to be featured in Ohio Magazine

Dr. McMills teaches large classes of 165-250 students, mostly first-year students, who have diverse interests and majors as well as a variety of learning styles. She employs a variety of techniques during the progression of a class in order to engage all students in the class, including openly encouraging discussion and questions as a means to create a friendlier and more personal atmosphere in the large lecture setting.

“I ask a lot of questions to get students involved,” Dr. McMills said. “I try to model problem-solving techniques in order to give students the tools they need to solve any problem.

“I realize that a majority of students will not go on to become chemists,” she added. “But I hope that they learn critical thinking skills in class that will serve them well throughout their lifetime.”