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Four OHIO faculty receive 2020 University Professor award 

Published: April 17, 2020 Author: Emily Baxstrom

Four faculty members have received the University Professor (UP) award for the 50th annual distribution. The University Professor award recognizes outstanding teaching at Ohio University. Since its founding in 1970, the UP program has recognized over 260 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.

“I cannot think of another thing that personifies the best of teaching and learning at OHIO than our University Professor award program,” said Tim Vickers, director of the Center for Teaching & Learning. “Winners’ names are engraved on bronze plaques found outside University College in Chubb Hall, where almost 270 OHIO University Professors are forever remembered—an area I like to call the OHIO ‘Teaching Hall of Fame.’”

Each fall semester, a pool of recipients is chosen from nominations collected from the OHIO student body. A selection committee composed of 10–14 undergraduate students then holds intensive interviews with eight faculty finalists and observes each of them in class.

“Every year, I have consistently seen comments that stand out in the ballots that the undergraduate students submit in their nominations—adjectives like ‘inspirational,’ ‘knowledgeable,’ ‘challenging,’ ‘amazing,’ ‘caring’ and ‘passionate,’” said Vickers. “It is invariably passion—the love of the subject, of teaching and caring for their students—that really distinguishes these nominees and winners. They all have an amazing ability to bring out the best of those who work with them.”

The 2020–2021 University Professor recipients are:

DeLysa Burnier, Political Science
Burnier’s proposed course, “Flyover Country vs. Bi-Coastal Elites: The Rural/Urban Divide in United States Political Thought and Culture,” will explore how the rural/urban divide goes back to the country’s founding, becoming especially significant in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the United States moved from a rural agrarian to an urban industrial nation. After looking at the historical roots of rural/urban divide, the course will move to the contemporary moment, examining how this tension is playing out through the rise of populism, anti-immigration policy, denouncing expertise, climate change denial and the opioid crisis, among other issues.

“Being nominated for this award made me very happy because it is a gift from my students,” said Burnier. “Good teaching is a collaborative project and I deeply appreciate the students who take my classes and share the classroom with me. I look forward to working through the rural/urban political divide with them. I also want to thank very much the students who served on the University Professor committee and Tim Vickers, who runs the process so effectively.”

Brian David Evans, Theater
Evans’s proposed course is titled “Delivering a Speech Like an Actor.” This course will cover the use of voice as an “instrument,” the circumstantial audience/speaker relationship, rhetoric as a means of achieving a goal and the use of different “tactics” to communicate ideas effectively. Taught from the actor’s perspective, the course will include exercises that focus on how the body supports the voice and the personal connection each person in the class has to their material.

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award because it is from the students,” said Evans. “The students are why I love my job. Their energy, drive and passion for the arts inspire me every day.”

William Albert Young II, Analytics and Information Systems
Young’s proposed course, “Analytics 4 Anyone,” will cover topics ranging from descriptive analytics, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics. Students will develop capabilities in analytics that are heavily sought after by organizations today, better preparing them for the workplace. 

“It was an incredible honor to have been nominated for the University Professor award by my students,” said Young. “Being recognized with this award is very meaningful to me, given Ohio University’s rich history of teaching excellence. I would like to thank everyone that has supported me throughout my academic and professional journey. I am very excited that I have an opportunity to share my passion for analytics with Bobcats.”

Linda Joan Zionkowski, English
Zionkowski’s proposed course title is “Fictions of War,” and will focus on novels and memoirs that represent the experience of warfare from the period after World War I up to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Students will examine major works of fiction and life-writing that portray individuals’ attempts to confront and reckon with the chaos, loss, pain and absurdity they endured through the warfare.

“I am deeply honored and delighted to have been chosen for the University Professor Award,” said Zionkowski. “Undergraduates bring a sense of excitement and discovery to their literature classes, and I look forward to exploring challenging new material with students in ‘Fictions of War.’”

To read about past winners, visit the Center for Teaching & Learning’s teaching awards web page. The awards ceremony was made possible by the Center for Teaching & Learning in the Office of Instructional Innovation, with generous support from University College. 

The Office of Instructional Innovation (OII) serves as a catalyst to spark bold experimentation and sustainable discovery of innovative instructional models that fulfill the University’s promise of a transformative educational experience. OII provides a variety of services to faculty, staff, and students in support of academic units and online programs, as well as to advance initiatives to further the institution’s mission. Visit www.ohio.edu/instructional-innovation for more information.