2015 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.
Avraham Benatar profile picture

Avraham Benatar

Associate Professor
Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Although he teaches what is described as challenging material, students seem to flock to, not run from, Avraham Benatar’s welding engineering courses. Often cited are Benatar’s attention to detail and his deep knowledge of the subject matter. 

But Benatar also is passionate about what he teaches, and that comes through whether he is teaching in class or online as the coordinator of the Welding Engineering Distance Education Master of Science program.

He exhibits patience with his students, especially distance learners who are working professionals, accommodating their specific needs and answering any and all questions. He also fosters an engaging classroom of student discussion and ideas, both in the class and after hours on the Carmen message boards.

When students finish one of Benatar’s courses, they feel engaged with what they’ve learned because of how he relates the material to real-world engineering

“The man is a truly brilliant educator who is genuinely interested in the success of his students,” a student nominator wrote. “Knowing that I’ll have the satisfaction of receiving a world-class education has motivated me to continuously seek out his courses.”

Benatar, who is director of Ohio State’s Plastics and Composites Joining Laboratory, earned his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Teresa Burns profile picture

Teresa Burns

Assistant Professor – Clinical
Department of Veterinary Clinical Biosciences


When you grow up around the more common domestic small animals such as cats and dogs, as most of Teresa Burns’ vet med students did, working with horses can be a little intimidating.

“Many students come into equine rotations with little horse knowledge, and Dr. Burns does an amazing job correlating equine and small animal cases seamlessly,” wrote a student nominator. “I’ve talked to many students who were afraid of horses and equine rotations who were sad to leave after two weeks with Dr. Burns.”

Burns believes giving students a hands-on education is the best way to prepare them for success. In one instance, she had students, under close guidance, perform liver biopsies for the first time on her equine patients in the Galbreath Equine Center.

Burns focuses not only on the method, but the mental as well. A student recalled when a foal arrived in poor shape. “While it was easy to get frustrated and depressed about the foal’s current state, Dr. Burns helped us celebrate each little improvement in his attitude or on his blood work and keep us focused on pushing ahead,” the student wrote.

The students are appreciative of that guiding attention, and as a collective in 2014, the entire veterinary medicine class chose Burns for its “favorite clinical professor” award.  

Burns expects the highest standard of care for her patients and consistently shows compassion for all in her charge, animal and student alike.

Burns received her doctorate of veterinary medicine from Iowa State University and her master’s and PhD from The Ohio State University.

Christopher Frank Highley profile picture

Christopher Frank Highley

Professor, Department of English


To fully explore Shakespeare, students need more than a mere instructor to show them the complexities and nuances of the human condition found in the Bard’s writings. In Christopher Highley, students have essentially found a literary tour guide, whose scholarly knowledge whisks them into the past.

“I have always greatly valued his personable demeanor and ability to make Shakespeare’s world come alive,” wrote a student nominator. “We could at times forget that we were in a classroom at Ohio State in the 21st century and rather believe, even if only momentarily, that we were part of Elizabethan life in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.”

Graduate and PhD students whom Highley advises and who have observed how he teaches Shakespeare and Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies courses on King Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Literary London come away feeling empowered and confident.

“Chris is erudite, funny and conversational,” noted one PhD candidate. “He has a natural ease in front of the classroom.”

Graduate students also value Highley’s extraordinary mentorship, which includes advising on course work and dissertation topics and suggestions of professional opportunities, such as fellowships. But Highley goes above and beyond, even helping one student secure cheap housing in London to do archival research.

In 2014 Highley was recognized with the Paul W. Brown Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching in the Departments of English and History. That honor was a testament to how he continually updates his teaching methods and reconstructs his courses to reflect his evolving scholarly projects.

“Chris is highly invested in his students,” a student nominator wrote. “He genuinely cares about our well-being and happiness.”

Highley earned his bachelor’s at the University of Sussex, his master’s at the University of Southern California and his PhD at Stanford University.

Julie Marie Hupp profile picture

Julie Marie Hupp

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Ohio State Newark


All one need know about Julie Hupp as an educator occurred last year, when Ohio State Newark honored her at its end-of-year banquet with the Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research. But Hupp was nowhere to be found; she was busy taking some of her students to a research conference.

That dedication to seeing her students through to excellence permeates everything Hupp does, from her interactive and hands-on teaching methods to providing opportunities beyond the classroom.

Hupp, whose research interests include discovering what environmental cues children focus on linguistically to inform their language acquisition, used a service-learning grant from Ohio State to pair upper-level psychology students with a local elementary school literacy program. Her students tutored the children while learning about the kids’ language development.

“Given her passion about community involvement, this is no surprise,” a faculty nominator wrote. “And I know the significance of this experience for our students.” 

Hupp’s encouragement and support in the classroom is second to none. Hupp, one student noted, made writing a seemingly impossible 10-page research proposal a seamless process by breaking it down into manageable parts. She provided feedback on students’ ideas and allowed revisions before the final versions were due, instilling confidence in the students.

“When I enrolled in her class, my goal was simple: survive,” wrote the student, who is currently working toward her doctorate in psychology. “But by the end of her class, I had developed new skills, discovered new interests and begun to believe in myself as much as she believed in me.” 

Hupp earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from Wake Forest University and her master’s and PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Toledo. She joined the Ohio State faculty in 2004.

Lawrence W. Inks Jr. profile picture

Lawrence W. Inks Jr.

Associate Professor – Clinical
Fisher College of Business


“Outstanding,” “passionate,” “admirable.” These are just a few of the words Lawrence Inks’ student nominators use to describe the popular instructor. His students describe his teaching style as “refreshing” and enjoy his engaging and interactive lectures, which he interweaves with entertaining personal stories. Students appreciate his upbeat attitude and say he “brings enough energy for every student in his three-hour lecture.” Though an expert in his field (management and human resources), he makes his lessons relatable to his students and applicable to real life, which they say allows them to understand the material on a deeper level.  Many of these lessons last long after class has ended.

“I find myself still thinking about what he had covered in class days later because it was so meaningful,” wrote a nominator. “I have kept the binder filled with my notes from his class on a bookshelf and refer to it from time to time.”

Inks also strives to be involved outside the classroom and is actively involved with many student groups around campus. He always leaves his door open to his students, and they appreciate his willingness to provide guidance, answer questions or engage in good conversation.

Inks does more than just teach his material to his students — he gives them the tools to become successful leaders in their future endeavors. His students say he inspires them to go beyond their expectations and strive to find work they truly enjoy. 

“Dr. Inks challenges students to think for themselves and how their gifts/talents can be utilized in a business setting, and encourages the pursuit of a truly passionate career,” a nominator wrote.

Inks received his undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a master’s and PhD from Ohio State.

Scott A. Jones profile picture

Scott A. Jones

Associate Professor
Associate Director of Bands
School of Music

A talented conductor, inspiring educator and an invaluable mentor, Scott Jones is a revered member of the School of Music. His students describe him as a charismatic and nurturing instructor, and one who goes above and beyond to connect with each student personally from day one. 

“Dr. Jones is my director for Symphonic Band and he has already made a large impact on me,” shared one nominator. 

Jones firmly believes in creating opportunities for his students to interact with leading composers, educators and musicians, so he has led collaborations with successful artists and takes his band to prestigious conferences. He also hosts social events to congratulate his students on their successes and to create a sense of community within the band. 

“During his tenure at Ohio State University, he has made the music-making experience a fabulous one for many, many students,” a nominator wrote.

His students say he not only has excellent musicianship but is able to share his expertise and critique his students in a way that makes them feel inspired to improve. He finds innovative ways to instruct his students, like creating YouTube videos with solutions to issues he noticed in rehearsal. 

Jones is quick to pass along encouragement and congratulations to his students when they reach his goals, and some credit him for instilling a passion for music in them. “He is the reason I want to major in music,” a nominator said. 

Jones received an undergraduate degree from Ohio State and a master’s from Vander Cook College of Music, both in music education, and a PhD in music from the University of Minnesota.

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Robin Judd

Associate Professor
Department of History


According to her students, Robin Judd is much more than a professor: She is a mentor who cares about their personal well-being just as much as their academic standing.  

A specialist in Jewish and European history, Judd dedicates herself not only to teaching her students but ensuring they succeed in all their endeavors. Her engaging teaching style allows students to gain an appreciation for her field and a confidence in their own abilities. She consistently maintains her personal core teaching values — flexibility, positivity, reciprocity and availability — and this allows her to dedicate her time to helping her students realize their intellectual and personal potential.

“Her personal warmth, dedication to seeing her students succeed and emotional and intellectual availability never ceased to amaze me,” a student nominator wrote. “None of our accomplishments was too big or small for her to acknowledge.”

Judd’s passion for teaching is evident in all of her classes, and her students said her love for the study of historical writing deepened their appreciation for how history is constructed. She encourages her students to embrace new things and to approach topics outside their academic comfort zone. She helps students understand their weaknesses and discover their strengths, and to constantly strive to improve.

Judd goes above and beyond to ensure her students are doing well in all aspects of life. She believes that her students’ well-being is directly tied to their academic and personal growth, and her warmth and openness encourage them to turn to her for advice. She strikes a careful balance between fostering independence and providing assistance, and her students leave her class with a new confidence in their abilities. 

Judd earned her PhD from the University of Michigan and has been at Ohio State since 2000.

W. Scott McGraw profile picture

W. Scott McGraw

Professor, Department of Anthropology


Anthropology students claim there is never a dull moment in a class taught by Scott McGraw. An evolutionary anatomist and a primate behavioralist with primary research interests in Africa, McGraw’s passion and enthusiasm for his subject are contagious to his students. He incorporates first-person stories from his own research and experiences into the lectures, and his students say he makes them excited to learn more about his field. 

“I will never forget how he showed how primates balance in trees by he himself climbing on his desk and demonstrating all the different adaptations they have in their limbs to accommodate for balance and center of gravity,” a student wrote. 

 In this way, he makes class fun, and instills a love of learning. They also say they have no problem studying for his exams because he makes the lectures so memorable and the information, which can be difficult to grasp, easy to retain.  

His positive and outgoing attitude makes it easy for students to participate, and even the shyest students feel comfortable raising their hands to speak in his class. He strives to create an interactive learning environment in his classroom and welcomes questions and encourages discussion. 

 Many students also admire his dedication to the field, including his support of anti-poaching efforts in the rainforest and promoting wildlife education. According to one student, “I know the various species he studies are in good hands with Dr. McGraw and all the hard work he is doing for them.” 

McGraw earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and has master’s degrees from both the University of Alabama and the State University of New York-Stony Brook, the latter from which he also earned his PhD. He has been at Ohio State since 1999.

Stephanie Moulton profile picture

Stephanie Moulton

Assistant Professor
John Glenn College of Public Affairs


Past and current students in the Glenn College (formerly the Glenn School) issue a common piece of advice to their successors: “Whatever you do, take at least one class with Stephanie Moulton.” An expert in public policy implementation, evaluation and management, Moulton instills her passion for her subject in her students through lively and engaging discussions, and her students appreciate it.

She incorporates media into her lectures to make them exciting, and one nominator wrote that she rivals even the best TED talk speakers. Her reading and assignments draw on the latest trends, technology and resources in the nonprofit and government sector, preparing her students for work in the real world. 

Moulton sets high standards, but she always makes herself available to help her students in and outside of class. Her students have said they are impressed by the level of attention she gives each and every one of them, and that she always makes them feel like a priority. While constantly working to help them improve, she sets an example by seeking feedback from her students in an effort to constantly improve her class. 

Moulton takes her teaching outside the walls of the classroom and aims to engage the broader community by having her students present their work to local nonprofits. This is not only an excellent learning opportunity, but it allows her students to showcase their work in the community, enhancing the reputation of both the Glenn School and the university. 

“Dr. Moulton raises the bar for what it means to be an exceptional instructor,” one of her former students wrote. “Her presence is a gift not only to the John Glenn [College] of Public Affairs, but to the entire university.”

Moulton earned her bachelor’s from Taylor University and her PhD from Indiana University. She has been at Ohio State since 2008.

Karl P. Whittington profile picture

Karl P. Whittington

Assistant Professor
Department of History of Art


From the fine arts to zoology, students of all majors enjoy taking Karl Whittington’s art history class. He is a specialist in European medieval art and architecture, and while the topic may be unfamiliar to some students at first, his open and engaging style of teaching allows all of them to grasp the subject matter quickly and easily. 

“He makes his lectures enjoyable and the information engaging so that students from all disciplines can gain a new perspective on art and the world,” a nominator wrote. 

His students say Whittington wants them to understand the importance of art to the world, so instead of requiring them to memorize endless dates and names, he focuses on teaching the significance of art and why people make it — instilling a new appreciation for the arts in all who take his courses.  

He also encourages his students to take their knowledge of art outside the classroom, leading study abroad programs so students can discover art in other countries. “He loves sharing his expertise, and he is also quick to encourage them to learn, explore and enjoy lessons on their own,” another nominator wrote.

Whittington’s passion is so contagious that many students who never thought they would be interested in art discover a new passion for it. One student who is in a science field said she took the class as a GEC, assuming she’d “take the class (and) forget everything I learned.” Instead, she became so enthralled with the topic that she ended up taking on a minor in history of art. 

Whittington earned his master’s and doctorates in the history of art from the University of California, Berkeley, and has been at Ohio State since 2010.

Nominations                    Previous Winners