2010 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching

Honored for their superior teaching, faculty members are nominated by present and former students and colleagues and selected by a committee of alumni, students and faculty.
Kevin Boyle

Kevin Boyle

Professor, Department of History


To hear his students — and many of his colleagues — talk, Kevin Boyle is more than a history professor; he’s a veritable rock star of a teacher.

Consider the following example (one of many similar): “He was the most intellectual and interesting speaker that I have ever had the privilege to hear,” one student wrote. “I adored this class and his oratory skills.”

Of course, such high praise is nothing new for Boyle, who earned a National Book Award for his 2004 book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 and served as fall 2009 commencement speaker.

He has taught 17 courses at The Ohio State University in the last three years and earned rave reviews in all of them, even while serving with distinction on the editorial boards of scholarly journals and mentoring numerous graduate and undergraduate students.

 In addition to his work with Ohio State students, Boyle teaches a session on law and social justice each summer at the University of Michigan and helps lead a seminar on the history of the civil rights movement at the WEB DuBois Center at Harvard University.

“Professor Boyle is one of the finest teachers in the Department of History,” writes a faculty nominator. “He is a genuine star in the eyes of many students and a role model for his colleagues.”

Boyle received his BA from the University of Detroit in 1982 and his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1990. He has been at Ohio State since 2002.

Image of James H. (Jay) Dial

James H. (Jay) Dial

Associate Professor, Department of Management and Human Resources


Though regarded as a rigorous and even demanding teacher — or perhaps because of it — Jay Dial is described by students as “inspirational” and “personally committed to the cause of education.”

His students and colleagues say he has more than earned a distinguished teaching award through his diligent and passionate educating of Fisher College MBA students and undergraduate business majors.

As one student writes, “Professor Dial has the most significant impact on my thinking and perspective of my profession of any professor I had during my MBA program.”

Not only does Dial work with students, but he has also brought a new approach to teaching complex strategy and economics courses that has inspired other Fisher faculty to change their practice and has invigorated the entire college.

He reshaped the MBA core strategy course and regularly offers his teaching expertise to colleagues both within and outside the university, further solidifying his reputation as a teacher of excellence.

“In a college that values teaching so much, Jay is viewed as one of the best all-around teachers across both the undergraduate and master’s programs,” notes a nominator.

Dial earned his BA at Old Dominion University, his MBA at the University of Chicago and his PhD at Harvard.

Image of Richard H. Fertel

Richard H. Fertel

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology


None of Richard Fertel’s students particularly enjoy the subject he teaches — in fact, pharmacology has the reputation of being dry, boring and difficult — but they all agree that Fertel is a gifted teacher whose wit and enthusiasm turn a tough class into an engaging learning experience.

Or, as one student wrote: “Although his class was as hard as all get out, it was mainly because the material was so dense. He did a wonderful job of teaching and gets an all-around thumbs up.”

Fertel, who was the College of Medicine’s Professor of the Year in 2006, is also beloved by students in the colleges of Optometry and Dentistry for his “easygoing manner and his liberal use of humor,” notes another nominator. He has received more than 25 teaching awards over his career and is praised for being approachable and deeply interested in student learning and success in his classroom.

Perhaps the highest praise, however, comes from alumni who say they still hear Fertel’s explanations of pharmacology as they are choosing what drugs to prescribe to their patients.

“He is the top teacher I have had the opportunity to evaluate over the past 20 years,” a nominator said. “Overall, he’s an outstanding colleague at the departmental, college and university level, and maybe one of the most outstanding teachers at OSU.”

Fertel earned his PhD in pharmacology from Washington University in St. Louis.

Image of Sarah K. Fields

Sarah K. Fields

Associate Professor, School of Physical Activity and Educational Services


Sarah Fields has a reputation around the school of Physical Activity and Educational Services (PAES) as being someone who “mixes things up.” It might be easy to take that as a critique; it’s not.

“She has no reluctance to use many varied instructional pedagogies to facilitate learning in consideration of varied learning styles,” writes a colleague. “I am impressed with Dr. Fields’ willingness to continuously question her teaching methods and styles and with her attempts to provide a learning environment that actively supports students of various backgrounds.”

For her students — both undergraduate and graduate — her flexibility and energy translate into learning experiences that are both engaging and meaningful. Her deep knowledge of her subject matter, coupled with her warmth and interactive approach with her students, helps make what can be difficult material accessible.

Part of that goal is accomplished through her own published writings. She also has made important contributions to the curriculum for the university’s program in sport humanities.

“She’s the most knowledgeable professor I have had in the college,” a former student said. “And she’s one of the best at teaching and connecting the material with the students.”

Fields earned her BA from Yale University, her master’s from Washington State University, her JD from Washington University in St. Louis and her PhD from the University of Iowa.

Image of Richard J. Freuler

Richard J. Freuler

Professor of Practice, Department of Aerospace Engineering


While part of Richard Freuler’s duties include enticing students into the Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors (FEH) program of which he is faculty coordinator, the true measure of his success, his students say, is his undying passion for their success.

One former student described her experience under his tutelage thusly: “It was an incredibly empowering experience and changed the trajectory of my life,” she said. “That may sound extreme, but I was going to be a math major and move back to my hometown and teach math. Dr. Freuler showed me that I could be an engineer, and suddenly I felt I had so many other options.”

Such examples are why enrollment in FEH has increased 400 percent since 1998 under Freuler and reached an all-time high of 431 students in fall 2009.

The Engineers Council, a group of undergraduate leaders in the college, has bestowed Freuler with the Charles Ellison MacQuigg Award, which faculty are eligible for every four years, in 2000, ’04 and ’08. And Freuler received the college’s inaugural David C. McCarthy Teaching Award in 2008, which honors contributions to create more innovative and effective teaching and learning.

Freuler earned his bachelors’ of aeronautical and astronautical engineering and computer and information sciences, his master’s and his PhD from Ohio State. He joined the university's faculty in 1992.

Image of Venkat Gopalan

Venkat Gopalan

Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry


Venkat Gopalan trained in the laboratory of Sydney Altman, who won the 1988 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and has become a national expert in the field of ribonuclease P ezymology. Yet he never lets his research prowess overshadow his teaching role.

“OSU has many gifted people and researchers, and many of them know their subjects better than anyone in the country or in the world,” the student wrote. “However, Dr. Gopalan has the ability — the unique ability — to transfer what he knows to his students.”

Gopalan co-developed two early experience honors courses for undergraduates, exposing students to the latest research topics and fostering class discussion with field trips before offering them hands-on research.

He was the founder of and advisor to the Biochemistry Undergraduate Club, which fosters early interaction between students and faculty, and he was a leader in developing the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates.

Gopalan also has taught eight undergraduates in his lab, where they have co-authored major papers in prestigious journals and presented their research in various venues. Six of these students have gone on to master’s studies while two advanced to medical school.

“Never has a teacher inspired me to learn more outside of the classroom and provide self-motivation for learning a subject,” one student nominator wrote.

Gopalan holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Madras (India) and earned his PhD from the University of New Mexico. He joined the Ohio State faculty in 1998.

Image of Margaret C. Graham

Margaret C. Graham

Associate Professor, College of Nursing


To say Margaret Graham is committed to her profession as a nurse and educator is an understatement. In fact, a student nominator praised her as “the epitome of what a great nurse practitioner should strive to be.”

An expert nurse practitioner, she has been educating students on nursing and health policy for more than 28 years. Along with her positions as an Ohio State professor and Department of Family Medicine nurse practitioner, Graham serves on both the Doctor of Nursing Program and College of Nursing graduate studies committees.

She has contributed her healthcare expertise to the implementation of innovative approaches to the education of nursing, such as the use of weekly case studies to provide students with a greater understanding of clinical situations. Graham also helped develop online learning opportunities for the College of Nursing through the Elluminate program. “As a result of her efforts, nursing students … have increased accessibility to learning and professional development,” a nominator wrote.

Graham’s passionate desire to challenge her students and colleagues has solidified her standing as a respected and inspiring role model throughout the College of Nursing. 

“While teaching valuable content about patient care and safety, Dr. Graham teaches other valuable lessons,” said a student. “She models compassion, helping us to see the health care system through the eyes of our patients. She gives us insight into the laws and policies affecting the nursing profession, encouraging us to let our voices be heard. And most of all, she displays a tireless commitment to our being the best nurses that we can be.”

Graham received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, her master’s degree from Vanderbilt, and her PhD from Ohio State.

Image of Robert R. Hite

Robert R. Hite

Associate Professor Emeritus, School of Educational Policy and Leadership


Walking into the first day of class, students rarely expect a handshake and personal introduction from the professor. Nor do many expect to attend an end-of-the-quarter meal in that professor’s home, or receive a birthday e-mail a year later.

To his students, Robert Hite is the epitome of what an extraordinary teacher should be.

Hite demonstrates his passion for the development of future educators through his array of contributions to the General Teacher Education program. He works as coordinator of the NCATE review team, which ensures accreditation for the teacher education programs at Ohio State. Moreover, Hite has developed seven core courses in the graduate Teacher Education Program, a contribution considered “phenomenal” by a faculty nominator.

More importantly, Hite is renowned for his extraordinarily effective interactions with students. He is known for using innovative materials and methods, which he continually updates to improve his teaching and his students’ learning.

Hite also advises graduate and doctoral students and is always available to assist and guide his students at a personal level. He encourages his students to attend conferences, establish networks and be professionally active, all while lending a helping hand and personal expertise. As one student nominator wrote, “There are not many faculty who take the time, have the patience and interest and are as willing to share their expertise with students for purely selfless reasons. Dr. Hite does all of that.”

Hite earned both his master’s and PhD from Ohio State.

Image of Katalin I. Koranyi

Katalin I. Koranyi

Professor of Clinical Pediatrics , Department of Pediatrics


Any Ohio State medical school student or resident can testify to the rigorous challenges facing an aspiring doctor. Many who have studies under her say Katalin Koranyi is a big reason they got through it.

Koranyi is an expert in the fields of pediatric care and infectious disease, with numerous scholarly works to her credit. She’s also a four-time Ohio State Pediatrician of the Year and has earned teaching awards from the College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

 But perhaps Koranyi’s most important contributions to the field of medicine are the students and colleagues whom she continually guides and inspires. She regularly commits extra time to her students, giving feedback and extra lectures to promote excellence despite the demands of a respected pediatrician.

 “The months that I spent with Dr. Koranyi during my residency were enjoyable and productive,” wrote one student nominator. “Discussions with other residents during my training revealed that they all had similar impressions. More importantly, she was able to serve as a tremendous role model as a caring and compassionate physician.”

Her colleagues are impressed with her as well. “Dr. Koranyi has left a lasting impression on OSU College of Medicine medical students, Nationwide Children’s Hospital pediatric residents and her colleagues,” one nominator wrote. “Her passion for teaching and patient care has served as a role model that has transformed the careers of many with whom she has had contact.”

Koranyi earned her medical degree from Cayetano Heredia University in Peru and has been at Ohio State since 1976.

Image of Richard D. Shiels

Richard D. Shiels

Associate Professor, Department of History

Ohio State Newark

To both his colleagues and his students, Richard Shiels has a way of making history come alive — his enthusiastic and captivating teaching of the American past continually impacts students.

“I wasn’t particularly a fan of history, but after the first class I found that I couldn’t wait to get to the next one,” a student wrote. “The material just wasn’t an assignment — it was living, breathing, happening.” And Shiels’ passion for the past has brought him numerous honors. He is a four-time winner of the Thomas J. Evans Teaching Excellence Award and a 1995 recipient of the Robert A. Barnes Exemplary Teaching Award, both presently awarded by Ohio State faculty.

Shiels takes his passion for history to activities beyond the classroom as well. He successfully advocated for the establishment of the Newark Earthworks Center (NEC), Ohio State’s first scholarly center at a regional campus (of which he currently serves as director).

 “Dr. Shiels made participation in extraordinary occurrences attainable, including the observation of Native American landmarks and once-in-a-lifetime observation of the moon rising over the Newark Earthworks,” a student wrote. Indeed, Shiels’ contributions to the NEC are recognized throughout the Ohio State community. “Dr. Shiels has been instrumental in all of the accomplishments of the NEC,” wrote a colleague. “His leadership is largely responsible for not only the success of the NEC, but also for its very existence.”

Shiels received his bachelor’s degree from Hope College, his MA in religion from Yale University, and his PhD from Boston University.

Nominations                    Previous Winners