2014 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.
Martin Robert Feinberg profile picture

Martin Robert Feinberg

Richard M. Morrow Chair in Polymer Engineering
William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


When it comes to chemical engineering, Martin Feinberg has a knack for making it look easy. His consistently high SEI scores attest to that.

“Feinberg is one of those rare engineers who combines innovative research breakthroughs that influence a whole field of research, superior teaching and preparation of tools for education and for engineering practice,” wrote one nominator.

One of those tools is The Chemical Reaction Network Toolbox, a powerful software tool for the study of chemical reaction networks that he made freely available on the Internet. Aimed at both students and researchers, the Toolbox has exceeded 10,000 downloads and is used in CBME 8813: Advanced Kinetics II — a course Feinberg was largely responsible for designing.

“Professor Feinberg is the best professor I’ve ever had,” a student nominator wrote. “He is an expert in the field of chemical engineering fluid mechanics and kinetics and has an established reputation as an academic researcher in these fields, but he combines that with a rare ability to communicate effectively as a teacher. He presents his knowledge to students with many different styles of learning and isn’t afraid to use a little humor now and then.”

Students, faculty and his peers show great respect for and admiration of Feinberg and his accomplishments. 

“Professor Feinberg is considered to be a world leader in the application of mathematics to chemical engineering problems, in particular to the understanding of how complex chemicals behave,” a nominator wrote. “His research and scholarly activity greatly inform every aspect of his classroom teaching, even at the undergraduate level.”

Feinberg earned his PhD from Princeton University. 

Steven James Joyce profile picture

Steven James Joyce

Associate Professor
Germanic Languages and Literatures
Ohio State Mansfield

Steven Joyce annually teaches the complete sequence of introductory German courses, as well as several comparative studies courses, a May Session course in history and nearly always in summer semester as well. He teaches an average of 17 semester credits during an academic year, all without teaching assistants. And his students appreciate his work. He has twice won the Outstanding Teacher Award at the Mansfield campus and has earned a Thank-a-Prof commendation through the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching. 

“(Joyce) has been praised repeatedly for making material accessible and enjoyable,” wrote one nominator, “for being accommodating to the special demands imposed upon commuting and nontraditional students, for making sure his students are equipped to perform at their optimal levels and for helping undergraduate students discover the joys and excitement of thinking critically.”

“The fact that he was always attentive to all of his students shows that he truly loves teaching and truly loves encouraging his students to their greatest potential,” another wrote.

Joyce also has earned praise for developing the study abroad program “Introduction to the Western Tradition: Summer Study Abroad at the Ionian University of Corfu,” in Corfu, Greece, with the help of a Gateway Study Abroad Seed Grant and the Office of International Affairs.  

Joyce’s accomplishments include two complete volumes of original poetry, numerous book reviews and two Fulbright Research Scholar awards.

As a nominator wrote, “In an era favoring extreme specialization in academia, Dr. Joyce’s contributions as a ‘Renaissance Man’ are invaluable to our students both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Joyce earned his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Trevon D. Logan profile picture

Trevon D. Logan

Associate Professor
Department of Economics


When Trevon Logan is not teaching economics to his undergraduate students, he serves as both the director of Undergraduate Studies and advisor to the Undergraduate Economics Society — a classic example of a professor devoted to students’ best interests.

But more, students consistently say that he provides them with a top-notch education. “Trevon is much more than an effective teacher,” one nominator wrote. “He has demonstrated a strong commitment to making the undergraduate experience for economics majors and other students as rewarding as possible.”

One way Logan achieves this is in his teaching process. He uses a more discussion-oriented approach with his students, a strategy that isn’t common in economics. The phrase “demanding and rewarding” and variations of that are common on student evaluation forms. “He expects a lot of his students, but rather than complain about the workload, students report that they enjoyed the challenge because he made the material so interesting,” another nominator wrote.

In the past three years, Logan has taught seven economics lecture courses, participated in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Program at the University of Michigan and served as an advisor and supervisor of several dissertations.

As for his contributions to The Ohio State University, Logan reinstituted and redesigned Economics 4553: Economics of Population, and designed a new course, Economics 5150: Economic Transitions in the 20th Century. Logan even features his own published research in every course he teaches.

Logan earned a PhD at the University of California at Berkeley.

Warren Benson McCorkle Jr. profile picture

Warren Benson McCorkle Jr.

Department of English
Ohio State Marion

It would be difficult to find a student on the Marion campus who took an English course with Ben McCorkle and didn’t love it. As one nominator wrote, “I’ve taken quite a few English classes, being an English major, and I cannot tell you how enjoyable and refreshing it was to tackle each project Professor McCorkle assigned.”

Colleagues who have reviewed his work say he engages students at a high level throughout his lectures, teaching “an often-challenging group of students in a way that encouraged them (successfully) to take responsibility for their own learning while also contributing to the larger group effort.”

McCorkle has made many contributions to the Marion campus, including the development of a number of courses that allow the campus to offer expanded course work in new media, and he has added courses to the curriculum in rhetoric and composition to provide students with a greater variety of contemporary-focused courses.

McCorkle also oversees production of the Cornfield Review, the campus’s literary journal, and is a part of a team that received a $50,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) based on English 2367, a standard second-year writing course.

In addition to McCorkle’s contributions on the Marion campus, he is engaged with the Columbus campus at the department level, serving on the Undergraduate Studies Committee, the Rhetoric, Composition, Literacy Studies Committee and the Center for Study of the Teaching of Writing Research Review Board.

As one of his peers wrote, McCorkle is “an innovative, engaging teacher and an example of Ohio State’s finest.”

McCorkle earned his PhD at The Ohio State University.

Donald O. Mutti profile picture

Donald O. Mutti

E. F. Wildermuth Professor
College of Optometry


Donald Mutti’s work history is filled with grateful students and patients alike.

“Professor Mutti, in short, is viewed as our best teacher currently — by students, faculty colleagues and college administrators alike,” wrote a colleague. “He teaches courses that are fundamental to the practice and his impact is career-long and far-reaching.” He has received the Graduate Teacher of the Year Award for three of the six years the award has been given, and the college’s coveted Herbert G. Mote Award for Teaching three times, as well.

Mutti has taught Optics of the Eye since 2001 and Ophthalmic Optics since 2011, redesigning the course materials into packets that serve as textbooks for each course he teaches. 

“The students generally consider his course packets to be the gold standard to which they hold their other instructors,” wrote a nominator.

In the classroom, Mutti combines “old school” classroom methods with Carmen technology. Quizzes are designed to help students master concepts and skills by allowing them to make unlimited attempts and repeating similar problems in order to reinforce what is learned in the classroom.

“Dr. Mutti teaches a tough subject in a fair and entertaining way,” a student nominator wrote. “He goes above what is expected with his teaching and he empathizes with his students. He works hard in his teaching and his personal life — he’s an excellent teacher, and an even better person.”

Mutti earned both his OD and PhD at the University of California at Berkeley.

Jennifer E. Schlueter profile picture

Jennifer E. Schlueter

Assistant Professor
Department of Theatre


Jennifer Schlueter is an effective teacher who both brings great enthusiasm to her teaching and draws enthusiasm out of her students. The positive, rigorous and collaborative environment she creates in her classroom has drawn raves since she began teaching at Ohio State in 2010.

“Professor Schlueter excites students and arouses intellectual curiosity in the classroom,” wrote one of her former students. “She organizes her classroom into a space that feels like we are all engaged in a conversation with her, each other and the material.  She is an excellent teacher whose love and passion for teaching are evident through every interaction.”

Schlueter also uses her professional experience in the world of theatre to expand opportunities for her students. She is joint artistic director of the For/Word theater company, which regularly collaborates with Columbus’ Available Light Theatre. At Ohio State, she coordinates the Lab Series, a student-driven, department-nurtured performance series focused on new work development. “One of the things I admire most about Dr. Schlueter is her commitment to creating theatre as well as teaching it,” wrote another nominator. “Her professional work as a playwright has both fostered opportunities for students in our department and brought our department into a closer relationship with artists in the community.”

Aside from her efforts as a professor and playwright, students appreciate how Schlueter has served as a mentor to them. “Her methods are direct and honest. Her writing is exceptional,” a nominator wrote. “I consider her a mentor of the highest caliber.”

Schlueter earned her PhD from The Ohio State University.

Robert Anthony Siston profile picture

Robert Anthony Siston

Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


As one of the first professors to adopt the “inverted classroom” structure, Robert Siston has impressed students with his ability to take a course as challenging as biomechanics and make it easy for them to understand.

“There are a handful of excellent teaching professors in the ME department, but Professor Siston is one of the best,” one nominator wrote. “Although he is busy doing research and writing grants, he also was an excellent professor and always made extra time to help students.”

Siston teaches biomechanics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and students from both levels are appreciative of his efforts as a professor. “He is very open to giving advice and sharing his life experience about the balance of classes, research, hobbies, friends and family in graduate school,” another nominator wrote. Another student wrote:
“I have never had another teacher at the university level who so clearly enjoyed teaching and interacting with students, and who was so committed to their growth and understanding of the material.”

Instead of stressing the importance of his students’ test grades, Siston stresses the importance of working in teams and applying real-world applications. His inverted-classroom structure includes having students watch videotaped lectures in advance and on their own time. What was taught in the lectures would then be applied to practice problems in class.

“Dr. Siston cultivates these skills that will transcend the class and translate into the students’ future careers, whether they go into industry or academia,” wrote another nominator.

Siston earned his PhD from Stanford University.

Mazeika Sullivan profile picture

Mazeika Sullivan

Assistant Professor
School of Environment and Natural Resources


Since the time Mazeika Sullivan arrived at Ohio State in 2008, his reputation as an outstanding teacher has grown.

“Dr. Sullivan has an upbeat, engaging and inclusive lecturing style that reflects an innate understanding and respect for the diverse student body enrolled in our school,” wrote one nominator. “He encourages students to engage in critical thinking and in doing so, empowers students to think for themselves.”

Sullivan is highly praised by his students and is always “in high demand;” he is one of the most sought-after advisors in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), and his courses consistently meet or even exceed their enrollment caps. In fact, the frequency with which his courses fill to capacity has left large numbers of SENR majors unable to take them in their preferred academic year — whether to graduate in a timely manner or to improve their employability or suitability for graduate study. Rather than make them wait, he has made the extra effort on several occasions to offer those courses in an independent-study format.

Sullivan designs his classes to show students ways that the science makes a real-life difference. Not only is most of his “classroom” work delivered in the field (such as at the Shiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park), but he also incorporates service learning activities into those classes — collaborating with Ohio EPA, Columbus Metroparks and Columbus Recreation and Parks.

Outside the classroom, Sullivan, who earned his PhD from the University of Vermont, has authored or coauthored 22 articles in the top peer-reviewed journals of his field and has been the principal investigator on 16 grants totaling nearly $900,000.

As a nominator noted, “The bottom line is simple: In teaching, research and service, Mazeika is a mentor, by both deed and example, from whom colleagues and students alike benefit.”

Tatiana Suspitsyna profile picture

Tatiana Suspitsyna

Associate Professor
Department of Educational Studies


Tatiana Suspitsyna has taught courses on organizational theory, academic administration, internationalizing colleges and universities and higher education and the public good — and through them all, has a strong reputation for having the ability to turn difficult material into useful information that can be applied in real-life situations.

“Immersing her students in case study discussion and organizational analysis assignments, Dr. Suspitsyna poses some of the most thought-provoking questions designed to flip a student’s perspective and shift paradigms in the classroom,” wrote a nominator. “She challenges students to build their own theories and pokes holes in their logic until they can support their claims in brilliant ways that would hold up in any prestigious journal.”

In the classroom, her students appreciate Suspitsyna for the way she is able to teach difficult material in a fluid and passionate way.

“She is tremendously brilliant, but a very humble and reserved personality,” wrote one of those students. “She represents the perfect blend of a great researcher and scholar while also being an invested and good teacher.” 

 Suspitsyna redesigned three graduate-level courses and has enhanced and updated the content of many of the core courses in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. 

“HESA’s reputation and national rankings have continued to remain high (consistently in the top 10 in U.S. News & World Report), and much of this can be attributed to the outstanding work that Dr. Suspitsyna has done in updating course curricula,” another nominator wrote.

“She is simply outstanding. She expects outstanding work from her students, and they receive outstanding instruction and mentorship from her.”

 She earned her PhD from the University of Michigan.

Todd Alan Thompson profile picture

Todd Alan Thompson

Associate Professor
Department of Astronomy


In a department regarded as one of the best of its field in the world, Todd Thompson is a star in his own right — regarded, wrote a nominator, as “one of our very best teachers at every level.”

“Professor Thompson thoroughly engages his students with his consistent energy and unparalleled ability to reduce complex concepts to their fundamental principles,” a nominator wrote. “His enthusiasm for the material brings even the most dry theoretical physics concepts to life.”

Thompson teaches both introductory courses that fulfill GEC natural sciences requirements and theoretical astrophysics courses that are considered by the department to be among the most rigorous courses available; no matter the level, he consistently earns strongly positive evaluations from his students. 

“Professor Thompson obviously has dedicated significant time to practicing how to deliver his notes, coming up with metaphors and analogies to best explain and illustrate key ideas, and generally find multiple ways to reinforce the same concepts such that if a student doesn’t understand one, he has a full toolbelt of others ready to go,” another nominator wrote. 

His last two PhD advisees each was offered a Hubble Fellowship — the most prestigious postdoc fellowship in the field of astronomy.

In research, Thompson has been one of the department’s most prolific and diversified members. In 2012 alone, he submitted 12 papers for publication in refereed journals on a wide variety of topics in theoretical astrophysics. He received his PhD from the University of Arizona.

“Should I become a professor one day, as is my goal, Todd Thompson is the teacher I hope to become,” wrote one of his students. “I can think of no better role model for the job.”

Nominations                    Previous Winners