|All stars in the classroom
Professors honored for teaching excellence
May 29, 2009
By Casey S. Elliott
It takes a special kind of person to teach, and an exceptional teacher to make the subject come alive for students and inspire them.
The five Ohio University faculty who have received this year's University Professor Award meet those descriptions, and more. Honorees are: Associate Professor of Environmental and Plant Biology Harvey Ballard Jr., Assistant Professor of Art Matthew Friday, Assistant Professor of Political Science Vincent Jungkunz, Professor of English Loreen Giese and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Scott Moody.
Winners are selected annually by the student body for their teaching excellence and overall contributions to higher education. The University Professor Selection Committee conducts an in-depth interview with each subject, focusing on the nominee's research interests, scholarly accomplishments, teaching philosophies and a general conversation about what they value in and out of the classroom and in the interactions with their students. The committee, comprising 10 to 14 undergraduate students, observes and assesses each nominee's classes.
"These are truly incredible people," said Tim Vickers, associate director of the Center of Teaching and Learning. "To me, they are the embodiment of everything that is great about our university as an educational institution. These are the people that not only have their own passion for the subjects they are interested in, but they are able to share that passion in a way that can reach a wide variety of students."
Begun in 1970, the University Professor program has honored more than 200 faculty members for teaching excellence. Along with the distinctive title and a $2,000 award, professors have the opportunity to enrich the academic curriculum by creating up to two courses of their choosing for the following year. Many times, University Professor courses have become permanent offerings in the catalog.
Vickers, whose office coordinates the selection process each year, said these natural-born teachers are the inspiration for educational attainment.
"These are the people who inspire other people to become more, to choose the majors and careers that they do," he said.
The university provost announces the recipients each spring, and the winners' names are permanently inscribed on a bronze plaque displayed outside the University College office in Chubb Hall, an area informally referred to as the "Teaching Hall of Fame."
Following is a brief look at each of this year's winners:
|Harvey Ballard Jr.|
Associate Professor of Environmental and Plant Biology
Ballard teaches a range of courses in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology, including, "Plants and People," "Plant Speciation and Evolution" and "Global Studies in Plant Biology." He has been the recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Award and the Jeanette Graselli Brown Outstanding Faculty Award.
Ballard's research is plant systematic and evolution, focusing on the diversity, classification, naming and relationships of violets around the world. Many of his undergraduate and graduate students are studying or have studied this large plant group and are now world experts in their own right.
The class Ballard is looking to develop is a new non-majors course, "Biological Diversity and Biomes of the World." The survey course will introduce students to major natural communities and their characteristic plant and animal species, exemplary reserves representing each region, conservation issues, ecological and evolutionary processes that have shaped and maintained those organisms and their habitats, as well as regional and global political issues affecting continuation of the biota.
Assistant Professor of Art
Friday teaches experimental approaches to drawing and painting as well as interdisciplinary seminars within the School of Fine Arts. He has exhibited nationally in numerous solo and juried exhibitions and has presented several papers concerning the interaction between visual culture and critical theory.
Friday's practice is primarily concerned with historical images in terms of intensity, distribution and virtuality. He is an active member of spurse.org, an open-ended group of individuals and organizations that work together as a type of experimental consultation service toward the development of new forms of engagement, practices and knowledge.
Friday will develop a course to study the various entanglements of politics, environment, law, ethics, business, hygiene, history, gender and geology that are produced by, and in turn, produce the southern Ohio region. Part of this class will be to research the types and practices that Athens can sustain within the context of radical climate change and how they affect ecology and biodiversity and will explore unique strategies of living in response to those sets of issues.
Professor of English
Giese, a 1993 University Professor Award recipient, researches Shakespeare and early modern English legal and cultural history. Her latest book project examines the definitions and expectations of marriage and of the roles of wives and husbands as evidenced in marital cruelty cases that went through the London Consistory Court in the late 16th and early 17th century.
In addition to receiving a prior University Professor Award, Giese received the presidential Teacher Award from Ohio University in 2004 and an Excellence in Education award from the State of Ohio. She also received the Jeanette G. Graselli Teaching Award in 1998.
Giese plans to teach a course titled, "From Earpickers to Insults: The way to and of Marriage in Early Modern London." In her course, students will read transcripts of some of the cases from early modern Londoners alongside selected early modern English dramas in order to examine the complex ways these plays participate in culture.
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Jungkunz teaches a variety of political, social and racial theory courses. His areas of interest include democratic theory, critical race theory, gender, sexuality and popular culture. He is especially interested in intersections of privilege surrounding race, gender and sexuality, as well as innovative approaches to democratic resistance, contestation and community. His dissertation, "Insubordinate Silence," offers a radical re-interpretation of silence as an alternative site for engaging the political.
Jungkunz looks to teach a course titled, "On Masculinity: Boys to men and back again ... and again," which looks at power, masculinity and its relation to politics. The course will take a complicated posture towards masculinity as power, allowing students to debate and embrace the multifaceted character of such power.
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Moody, a faculty member at Ohio University for the past 30 years, has taught a variety of courses ranging from Human Anatomy in the College of Osteopathic Medicine to general education courses such as Biology. He earned his bachelor's degree in biology and anthropology from Harvard College and his doctoral degree in evolutionary biology and anatomy from the University of Michigan.
Moody has been funded by national grants to study the evolutionary history of a group of lizards found in Africa, Asia and Australia and has described a number of fossil species and genera.
Moody seeks to teach a course titled, "Biology behind CSI," which would examine the science in crime scene and forensic investigations. Topics for this course will include a history of crime scene investigative techniques, such as fingerprinting, lie detection, bones and teeth, hair and fibers, sexual assault investigation, eye-witness accounting and face recognition.