The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University has announced the recipients of its Outstanding Teacher Award for this academic year.
Cynthia Chalupa (foreign languages), Ken Martis (geography), Katy Ryan (English) and Keith Weber (communication studies) will be honored at the colleges annual Honors and Recognition Ceremony and Brunch during the Universitys Weekend of Honors celebration in April.
Dr. Chalupa began learning German as a youngster, but she wasnt sure she could make it a career.It seemed that learning a language, studying and working abroad, were all dreams that I, as a first-generation college attendee, could not pursue,said Chalupa, an assistant professor of German and director of the Basic German Language Program.
Of course, that dream, and many others, came true for the educator.
In seven years at WVU , shes developed 14 new courses while instituting a study abroad program that integrates intensive immersion language study with a short-term internship at a German business.
She earned a bachelors degree in English and German from the University of Michigan, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures from The Ohio State University.
Many of her students have taken her same path by majoring in Germanusing the language and culture as a launch to their own careers.
Dr. Martis uses his love of maps and geography to challenge his students to look at the world in different intellectual directions.
Martis has served as Georgraphy Undergraduate Program Director and is the creator of two key courses in the geography major: Geography 199, Orientation to Geography; and Geography 496, the Senior Thesis Capstone course. Hes also Geography Honors advisor.
As an undergraduate education major at the University of Toledo, he was set on becoming a high school geography teacher. But graduate school at San Diego State made him realize that college-level teaching was going to be his place on the academic map.
Uncle Sam intervened to give academics a slight detour. He left graduate school in his fourth semester to serve a two-year stint as a first lieutenant with the U.S. Army Military Police, and the educator learned from the experience.
It made me an infinitely better teacher,he said.At WVU , I teach political geography to international studies majors. The credibility I bring from being a former military officer is not lost on them.
To date, Martis has given more than 100 students the opportunity to become involved with his research and writing, all of them credited by name in his articles and books.
Dr. Ryan learned very on that lesson plans dont have to limited by the four walls of a classroom. Same deal for the image of the professor at the podium staring down at her lecture notes.
Thats why the WVU assistant professor of English punctuates her classes with guest speakers and performers. And field trips. And readings with an emphasis on human rights and social justice issues.
She covers American literature, African American Literature, American drama and all literary points in-between. Her graduate level course on prison literature here led to the creation of the Appalachian Book Project, an outreach organization staffed by students and community members that sends books free of charge men and women inmates in the region.
I want my courses to matter,said Ryan, who came to WVU in 2000 after completing her Ph.D. in English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.The English classroom can be a place where words and our interaction with words compel us to rethink what we know. I ask a great deal of students, but most importantly, I ask them to take their intellectual lives seriously.
Dr. Weber wasnt shy about broadcasting his ambition early on at WVU . He began his teaching career while a doctorate student here, and his goal then was to teach a class on research methodswhich at that time had never been taught by a grad student.
He persisted, serving as a teaching assistant for three years, until, in his last semester, he was rewarded with his very own course section.
Weber took an appointment at Marist College after graduation, but soon returned to his alma mater, where he has continued to inspire his students to pursue their careers with the same determination he did.
I know that every day in my chosen career as an analyst with a top-five consulting firm that I have Dr. Weber to thank for his excellent instruction on research and analytical methods,a former student writes.
Since his homecoming, hes taught courses in persuasion, commercial media, interpersonal communication and mass mediadisciplines that have led to new channels of success for the teacher and his students.
A public service announcement on organ donor awareness created by his Advanced Research Methods class garnered an Emmy nomination in 2006, while taking home a bronze medal in the Telly Awards andGolden Eaglein the Cine Awards competitions that same year.
Both competitions are international events showcasing the worlds best multimedia productions.