On April 25, Miami University students, professors and friends gathered to celebrate those that go above and beyond. Every year, graduating students nominate professors they feel have had an extraordinary impact on them during their time at Miami.
The ceremony was opened by Cathleen McLaughlin, the secretary for Academic Affairs for Associated Student Government (ASG). McLaughlin also organized the event, and her opening was followed by a brief dinner.
McLaughlin explained how these professors get the opportunity to be recognized.
“[ASG] looks at experiences, engagement in the classroom and outside of the classroom, impact on education and future aspirations, career goals, how the faculty member has really worked to improve the community as a whole and also any ways in which they've gone above and beyond in their job,” McLaughlin said.
This includes faculty like Russell Simonsen, who teaches in the department of Spanish and Portuguese. Simonsen makes the “boring material” of the class interesting for everyone, according to his student nominator.
Faculty like Molly Moran, an assistant lecturer in the department of emerging technology in business and design. Moran works not only to make education more accessible for her students but also dives head-first into tough conversations with them.
Or faculty like Jen Sammons, a visiting assistant professor (VAP) in the English department. Sammons doesn’t just listen to students’ suggestions but implements them. She once held an entire class in the dining hall so that her students could have breakfast while learning.
“It’s so inspiring to be a part of a campus community with so many professors doing incredible work,” Sammons said after the event.
This year, eight of the top 10 professors had a perfect score from ASG. These professors represented different departments.
Dr. Chip Hahn, an associate clinical professor of speech pathology and audiology, was nominated for his commitment to Miami that extends beyond the classroom. Todd Stuart, an associate teaching professor in arts management and arts and entrepreneurship, met every challenge in his program with a student-first focus.
Ashley Goos, a VAP in theater, inspired her nominator, Joseph Sheridan, to pursue a career as a professor even when Sheridan only intended to take on a dance minor to “become less terrible.”
Daniel Dlugos, a VAP from the biology department, encouraged his students to reach out for opportunities that they themselves may not believe they can achieve.
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These faculty worked hard to connect with their students and build meaningful relationships that helped them to succeed. Paul Flaspohler, a psychology professor, was one of these professors. Valuing his students as people first and students second, Tyler Baker, a VAP in the Department of Educational Leadership, was another professor who exemplifies these values that make an outstanding professor.
The winner of the 2023 Outstanding Professor Award overall was Stephanie Dankar, an associate professor from the art department, nominated by Allison McLean.
Before reading her nomination aloud, McLean announced, “This is my school mom.”
“Her passion encouraged me to pursue every opportunity that came my way and coupled with her unwavering support for her students,” McLean said. “She has been my number one support through my undergraduate years providing guidance, encouragement and mentorship that has helped me navigate the challenges of pursuing a career in education.”
The night was filled with kind words, tears and motivation to continue to inspire, encourage and educate next year’s students.