Miami University community members huddled into Armstrong Pavilion on April 26 as more than 100 Miami University professors and the students that nominated them gathered for the 2022 Outstanding Professor Awards.
Ruku Pal, secretary for Academic Affairs in Associated Student Government (ASG), opened the ceremony.
“This event is especially special this year,” Pal said. “It’s been two years since we could hold it in person, so we’re so excited.”
After a banquet-style dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs, finalists from the past two years were recognized.
Each year, every graduating student gets the chance to nominate a professor who made an impact on their time at Miami.
First up was Monica Schneider, a professor in the political science department. Khenadi Grubb, a junior political science major and the Student Body vice president elect, talked about how Schneider inspired her to be confident early in her Miami career.
“She always told us to channel our ‘inner mediocre white man confidence,’” Grubb said. “She’s taught many women that they can do anything they set their mind to.”
David Shrider, a professor of finance at Miami who died last summer, was honored next.
With Shrider’s family in attendance, Ben Waugh, a senior accounting and finance major, told a story about the professor. In a past semester, Waugh would take his 1:15 p.m. finance class with Shrider, then follow the professor up to his office for the 2:50 p.m. time slot, before settling in for his 4:25 p.m. class, also with Shrider.
“If I did that to anyone else, they probably would have killed me,” Waugh said to a chorus of laughs. “But not Dr. Shrider. He was always there. He always listened and always cared. His true passion showed in his daily work, with students at the center of it all.”
Next, the moderators recognized this year’s top 10 professors.
The awarded professors were from many departments. Megan Gerhardt, this year’s top finalist, was nominated by Pal. Pal said Gerhardt, a professor of management, really cares about her students.
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For instance, Pal’s laptop broke just before spring break this year, and she had to leave town before her new one arrived. When she got the alert that a laptop had been delivered to her empty Oxford house, she called the only person she could think of who was still in town. Gerhardt retrieved the laptop and kept it in her office until Paul got back.
One recipient was Jason Rech, professor of geology. Ella Comerford, a senior individualized studies major, said Rech gets students so passionate about geology that it’s common to hear arguments about soil in his lab.
Alim Dewan, a professor in the engineering department, was also awarded. Cameron Day, senior computer science major, said Dewan completely removes the fear of judgment from the learning process.
The ceremony honored Miami professors who go above and beyond.
Like Shrider, who gave his students his home phone number and said they could call him any time until 10 p.m.
Or David Eyman, an instructor in Farmer, who told students they could come to dinner at his house anytime if they just give him an hour of notice.
Or Jacquie Daugherty, who gets students interested with her studies of erotic novels and keeps them engaged by going to great lengths to make everyone comfortable in her classroom.
Professors who embody Love and Honor.
After the ceremony, the Pavilion cleared out quickly as some of Miami’s best returned home to recharge before another day of inspiring the next generation.