Excellence in Teaching is bestowed by the Office of the Chancellor and the Teaching Council of the Faculty Senate to honor outstanding work in the classroom.
The students of Brian Ambroziak, associate professor of architecture, may find themselves walking through campus blindfolded or studying the development of children’s drawings. These exercises teach them unconventional methods for analyzing architecture and thinking critically about the research process. Ambroziak’s passion for his work inspires his students to find their own passion. He stresses the importance of design and shows how human observation and experience drive the relationship between humans and the built environment. Ambroziak has an extensive range of publications and projects on the creative process and the development of the artistic conscience through his design office, TimeScape Lab.
It’s not uncommon for Lars Dzikus, associate professor of sport studies and director of graduate studies in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, to jump on desks or ride students around in wheelchairs. It’s all part of his teaching methods—from fueling excitement in the classroom to helping students understand the challenges wheelchair-bound people face daily. Dzikus is lauded for treating students as individuals whose minds he wishes to nurture, expand, and inspire. To him, students aren’t just passing through his classroom. He makes an investment in them and creates memories that help lock in lessons. As one of his students put it, “To me, anyone can teach, but it takes an extraordinary person to be able to have a lasting effect on their students and to teach them a lesson that will influence who they are as a person outside of the classroom.”
Tim Hulsey, associate professor of psychology and associate provost of Honors and Scholars Programs, has the unenviable position of teaching required classes, including many that are unpopular. But he has successfully challenged misconceptions time and again. One student in his psychoanalytic theory class left not only having enjoyed the course but also seeking out more opportunities to learn from him. “His passion for the field is contagious,” she explained. Hulsey’s classes are filled with intense discussion that fosters growth in students. He demonstrates an exceptional capacity to convey complex information in a way that is digestible to students, carefully choosing content that is relevant and contemporary. He also demonstrates a long-term commitment to mentoring students—helping them through stressful times and guiding them to a path of success after graduation.
“She draws you in and helps to break the complex concepts into simple and understandable ones.” This is an example of how students have described the Microbiology 330 class—a class of about 100 undergraduates—taught by Assistant Professor Sarah Lebeis. Despite the class’s large size, Lebeis uses active learning strategies that build critical thinking skills and help students translate their microbiology education to societal impacts. She has inspired many students, no doubt having a long-term positive impact on their careers and lives. Lebeis has also established herself as a significant force in an area of research that recently gained national attention: the microbiome. Her expertise in plant immunology allows her to develop and test hypotheses about how immune systems balance microbes and to relate her findings to human health—all while providing research opportunities to students.