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University recognizes faculty, staff for advising, research, teaching, outreach work

UT outstanding advisors, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement, were recognized last week.

Recipients of the Outstanding Advisor Award were:

Winners of the Outstanding Adviser Award were Dr. Jerry Van Hoy and Amanda Seabolt.

Amanda Seabolt, academic advisor in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The UT alumna received a bachelor of science degree in biology, a master of public health degree, a master of science degree in nursing, and a graduate certificate in gerontological practice. She will graduate with a doctor of philosophy in curriculum and instruction from the University next month. Seabolt started advising students in 2015, the same year she received one of UT’s Outstanding Staff Awards.

“She is always giving students opportunities, whether it be in getting a new job, joining an organization, or participating in research,” one nominator wrote. “She is always pushing students to do their best.” “She shows great knowledge through her own personal experience and continued education. She never stops learning,” another nominator wrote. “If she doesn’t know something, she doesn’t stop looking until she finds the answer. She is always working for the student. She has been one of the most influential people during my time at the University.”

Dr. Jerry Van Hoy, associate professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Letters. He is co-director of the Program in Law and Social Thought and director of the Master of Liberal Studies Program. Van Hoy joined the University in 2000 and received one of UT’s Outstanding Teacher Awards in 2013.

“He flips the notion that advising is purely transactional on its head by listening to students’ needs and concerns. He helps students develop academic plans that work for them, addressing weaknesses and creating pathways to not only graduation, but to a life after college that students are excited about,” a nominator wrote. Another noted, “As a recent graduate, I faced some distressing events during my capstone project. Dr. Van Hoy provided objective feedback to let me know the problem wasn’t unusual, the troubling issues were not caused by me, and that they were not insurmountable. His advice was calming and reassuring. He was sensitive, diplomatic when needed, and direct as required.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award were:

Receiving Outstanding Research and Scholarship Awards were, from left, Dr. Vijay Devabhaktuni, Dr. Yanfa Yan and Nicole Buonocore Porter.

Dr. Vijay Devabhaktuni
, professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the College of Engineering. He is executive director of emerging technologies and special advisor to the UT vice president, chief information officer and chief technology officer. Devabhaktuni joined the faculty as an associate professor in 2008.

He is a renowned expert in computer-aided design, machine learning, modeling, optimization and simulation as applied to electromagnetics, big data, biomedical engineering, cyber security, energy efficiency, virtual reality, wireless sensor networking, image and signal processing, and more. Since 2009, the National Science Foundation has supported his work. While at UT, he has received about $2 million in funding from more than 30 external grants and has published more than 80 papers. According to Google Scholar, Devebhaktuni’s work has been cited 3,200 times since 2013.

Nicole Buonocore Porter, professor of law in the College of Law. She joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 2007.

Porter is a nationally recognized scholar on the employment rights of women and individuals with disabilities. She is the author of a disability law casebook, published by a leading legal academic publisher, and is the co-editor of a forthcoming book titled “Feminist Judgments: Employment Discrimination Opinions Rewritten.” Her published articles address the persistent pay gap between men and women, discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities, and the employment rights of individuals with disabilities. Her work has been cited more than any other faculty member in the UT College of Law, and she is frequently invited to speak at symposia and national conferences. In addition, Porter was invited to join the Labor Law Group, a prestigious organization that produces scholarship on labor and employment law.

Dr. Yanfa Yan, professor of physics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He joined the UT faculty in 2011.

For two decades, Yan has been researching photovoltaics, solar fuels and energy storage techniques using a combination of theory, material synthesis, device fabrication, and material and device characterization. He has written or co-written more than 350 articles and has given more than 50 invited talks. According to Google Scholar, Yan’s work has been cited 16,868 times. His work has been funded with more than $5 million from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research and private industry.

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were:

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were Dr. Susan Batten and Kenneth Kilbert.

Dr. Susan Batten
, professor in the College of Nursing. She joined the University in 1995.

Batten coordinates patient intake for the UT Community Care Clinic at Cedar Creek Church, provides care during Labre Traveling Clinic in south and east Toledo, and for migrant workers at their resident camps in northwest Ohio. She also has mentored nursing, medical and pharmacy students during annual medical missions to Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti. Batten has worked with more than 1,000 UT students with her community outreach and service projects. Their work has impacted more than 4,000 chronic disease patients in northwest Ohio, 500 immigrant workers and their families in rural Ohio, and more than 40,000 patients in Honduras, Guatemala and Haiti.

Kenneth Kilbert, professor and director of the Legal Institute of the Great Lakes in the College of Law. He joined the University in 2006.

A scholar of environmental law, Kilbert’s work focuses on water issues affecting the Great Lakes region. Since 2006, he has planned UT’s annual Great Lakes Water Conference, which addresses legal and policy issues important to the region and its water resources. Each year, the conference draws approximately 300 guests and garners extensive media coverage. In addition, Kilbert has received multiple grants to study harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. His scholarly work increases awareness, promotes best practices, and suggests legal solutions to address the algal bloom problem.

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award were:

Kara Bruce, professor in the College of Law. She joined the faculty in 2010.

“Professor Bruce exemplifies everything a professor should be — teacher, mentor, friend,” a nominator wrote. “Professor Bruce strives to engage her students while teaching difficult, sometimes less-interesting classes. She provides practical examples, makes jokes, and she goes out of her way (sometimes at the expense of getting behind schedule) to make sure we all understand what she is teaching. Honestly, I wish I could take Professor Bruce for every class in law school.” “Professor Bruce is excellent at taking complicated and challenging material and making it manageable for her students. She presents the material in a way that acknowledges the difficultly without making it seem daunting,” another wrote. “Not only is she passionate about students passing her class, she is passionate about making her students pass the bar.”

Dr. Edward Cancio, associate professor of special education in the Judith Herb College of Education. He came to UT in 2007.

“Dr. Cancio has been the most knowledgeable and inspiring professor I have had in my four years at UT. Every week Dr. Cancio showed the same passion for the subject that he taught and brought out the best from my classmates and I. It is easy to see from his lectures, published articles, and just speaking to him that Dr. Cancio is an expert in his field and was happy to pass his knowledge on special education to the class,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Cancio’s class focused on teaching students with emotional behavioral disorder, which is one of the most intimidating sections of special education. After taking his class, I know that I am more than prepared to go into this field.”

Elyce Ervin, senior lecturer in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences in the College of Health and Human Services. She has been teaching at the University since 1999.

“I had Elyce Ervin for Anatomy and Physiology, which has never been so easily comprehendible than it was in her class. She provided mini-activities every other class that helped us to understand the material. She also provided great lecture notes that were organized and easy to keep up with. The notes were fill-in, which helped people pay attention in her class. She would always ask if anyone had any questions in between every slide to ensure we were understanding the material,” one nominator wrote. “The one thing that makes Elyce Ervin stick out is how she is continuing to have an impact on me. She is without a doubt one of the best people I have met in my life.”

Dr. Jackie Layng, professor of communication in the College of Arts and Letters. She has taught at the University since 1997.

“Dr. Layng has by far been the most knowledgeable and personable professor I have had at UT. Her classes always push me to do my best work and achieve professional-level skills. Many times her class assignments seem intimidating at first, but Dr. Layng is always available to guide students throughout the process,” a nominator wrote. Another noted, “Selfless, dedicated, inspiring, caring: If you asked me to list all of the amazing things about Jackie, I think it’d be impossible because she’s had such a profound impact on my life. She genuinely cares about her students. Her constant words of encouragement, honest critiques, and passion for her career genuinely keep me going, and I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.”

Dr. Kim E. Nielsen, professor of history, disability studies, and women’s and gender studies in the College of Arts and Letters. She joined the faculty in 2012.

“Dr. Nielsen creates a classroom atmosphere that makes all of her students feel comfortable to share stories, ideas and opinions. She listens to every student and encourages all of her students to have a voice,” a nominator wrote. Another noted, “Dr. Nielsen goes out of her way to make sure every student succeeds. Her sense of humor makes every class intriguing and makes me want to learn more. I wasn’t much of a history buff until taking classes with her and hearing her passionate views. Dr. Nielsen is always available when you need her. She always comes to class with a smiling face even considering the boatload of other work she has to do. I wish I could have her for more classes.”

John J. Schlageter III, senior lecturer in the Paralegal Studies Program housed in the School of Social Justice in the College of Health and Human Services. He is a graduate of the UT College of Law and has been teaching at the University since 1998.

“He is truly the best professor that I had throughout my college career — always willing to listen, help in any way he can, and truly do everything in his power to help you begin your career in law,” one nominator wrote. Another noted, “Professor Schlageter goes above and beyond to help the students achieve great success in the paralegal classes. He always offers support, help and resources. He strives hard to make sure all students find a good quality internship. He always checks in on students and always offers support.” Another wrote, “He listens to every concern and teaches with such a passion. You can tell John loves what he does. He has helped myself and many others land jobs.”

Taking home Outstanding Teacher Awards were, from left, Elyce Ervin, Dr. Jackie Layng, John J. Schlageter III, Dr. Kim E. Nielsen, Kara Bruce and Dr. Edward Cancio.

Distinguished University Professors also were recognized at the ceremony:

Dr. Abdollah Afjeh of the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering in the College of Engineering;

Dr. Paul Hong of the Department of Information Operations and Technology Management in the College of Business and Innovation; and

Joseph Slater of the College of Law.

Read more about them here.

And Distinguished University Lecturers were honored:

Amy O’Donnell of the Department of Management in the College of Business and Innovation;

Sherry Tripepi of the School of Social Justice in the College of Health and Human Services; and

Sara Yaklin of the Department of English in the College of Arts and Letters.

Read more about them here.