COOKEVILLE —Tennessee Tech University recently honored outstanding faculty members for their accomplishments in areas of teaching, advising, research and service.
“It is because of you that Tech graduates go out into the world with the knowledge and skills to be successful,” said Tech President Phil Oldham.
Zachary Wilcox, associate professor in counseling and psychology, and Chris McCormick, music professor, were awarded the Outstanding Faculty Awards in Teaching, presented to faculty who exemplify the high instructional standards for which Tech strives.
Wilcox has earned a reputation among his students as someone who has a tremendous amount of devotion to his field and students. He consistently seeks to improve on methods to reach and impact students, from his innovative methods in the development of an innovative peer leader based information literacy course.
McCormick is described as an extremely effective teacher, conductor and performer who devotes himself to the education and successes of his students. He has coordinated the Tech Jazz degree programs, conducted student jazz ensembles, and taught courses in jazz improvisation, jazz arranging and composition, jazz history and computer applications. He brings innovative ideas and practical experiences to the classroom while maintaining a rigorous performance and practice schedule as a professional trumpet player.
Sandi Smith-Andrews, associate professor in the department of curriculum and instruction, received the Outstanding Faculty Award for Professional Service. This award goes to a faculty member who has gone beyond teaching and research to volunteer services in their field of expertise.
Smith-Andrews serves Tech through her continued service trips to impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic. On these trips, she is able to help students gain valuable experience working to improve the lives of children living in extreme poverty. She is also the co-sponsor of the Rotaract Club and is currently serving as president-elect of the faculty senate.
The General Education Award for Outstanding Teaching recognizes exemplary instruction in general education courses. This year’s award winners are Jennifer Rideout, assistant professor in English, and Lauren Harding, assistant professor in sociology and political science.
Rideout established an unmatched record of outstanding teaching scores in exclusively general education classes four years in a row. She also performs a major service to the university and the English department in teaching recent and contemporary literature from around the world. She devotes hours to her students in some of the toughest teaching assignments on campus.
Harding incorporates a variety of active learning techniques to enhance student inquiry and creative critical thinking for significant impacts in general education. She is highly regarded for always providing interesting content to further advance one’s knowledge in the field of political science.
The Award for Excellence in University 1020 Instruction honors creativity in teaching and commitment to the success of new freshmen. Brandi Hill, University 1020 course instructor, received this award.
The University 1020 course was especially effective in helping students develop social skills, cope with stress and feel at home on the Tennessee Tech campus. Students mentioned the icebreaker activities helped them get to know each other as well as relax in the classroom.
Queen Ogbomo and Amber Spears won the Awards for Excellence in Creative Inquiry Instruction, which recognizes the exceptional teaching that engages students in the discovery of new knowledge as part of Tech’s Quality Enhancement Plan, EDGE: Enhanced Discovery through Guided Exploration.
Ogbomos’ class, Elementary Education 3140, Teaching of Social Studies, used a poverty simulation approach to put themselves in the place of school children with economic issues that adversely affects their learning. Student teams grappled with critical questions related to poverty as they tried to survive a month with limited resources, engaging in critical dialogue with their peers and the instructor throughout the project.
Spears’ class, Reading 3311, Literacy 1, took learning outside to “Wonderland Woods,” a non-traditional outdoor classroom at Prescott Scout Elementary School. Students worked with mentors to create dynamic naturalistic literacy lessons to foster inquiry and curiosity through reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Andreea Cojocaru, chemistry instructor, and Sean Alley, assistant professor in economics, finance and marketing, received the Awards for Excellence in Creative Inquiry Mentoring. This award recognizes the special efforts made by faculty as they mentor students undertaking Creative Inquiry Summer Experience (CISE) projects.
Cojocaru is described by students as an amazing professor and an even better research advisor who helps her students fully grasp and put meaning behind what they are doing in the lab.
Alley helped one student refine an idea to apply for the CISE grant and eventually become a career mentor. This student’s experiences with Alley went above and beyond what his job description calls for.
The Scholar-Mentor Award honors faculty for outstanding accomplishments in mentoring, scholarship, research and teaching. Two faculty members received this award: Jesse Carrick of chemistry and George Chitiyo of curriculum and instruction.
Carrick is known among students as a challenging but fair professor with compassion for students and a love of teaching. In his six years at Tech, he has mentored 14 undergraduates who have moved on to six Ph.D. programs and three MD programs.
Chitiyo has a reputation among students for his ability to push them past their limits and insecurities with humor, patience and respect. A mentor to a wide range of colleagues and students from different institutions and disciplines, he promotes learning through students’ independent inquiry – to explore and discover knowledge on their own by providing them with opportunities to not only succeed but to make mistakes and grow.
Chitiyo also received the Outstanding Diversity Advocate Award, recognizing his exceptional mentoring as well as social and academic support to minority students on Tech’s campus.
Dan Allcott, music professor, was awarded the Scholastic Research Award, a university-wide award for scholarship based on works published, presented or performed, in the preceding calendar year.
He was awarded for his production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme. This production required Allcott to take on the role of producer and director, in addition to his role as conductor of the Bryan Symphony Orchestra. He had to design the sets, train and coordinate student stage managers and adapt the opera’s setting from 1830s Paris to modern-day Cookeville. He also coordinated educational materials with area teachers to introduce local high school and elementary students to opera, an aspect especially relevant to the new Rural Reimagined initiative.