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Great Teaching - The Cornerstone of Any Great University

The University of Kentucky Alumni Association presented its 2014 Great Teacher Awards to six recipients at a recognition dinner in March 2014, followed by an appearance at Rupp Arena’s center court during halftime of the Kentucky vs. Alabama men’s basketball game later that evening.

The recipients are:

Miller, professor of communication, says when she is teaching, she feels like she is doing what she was put here to do.

"I am very relationship centered in all aspects of my life and teaching is relationship focused — no matter the size of the class," she said. "Even though they continue to get larger, it is possible to create a relationship with your students."

Jaromczyk, associate professor of computer science says teaching brings its own rewards.

"You are among students who want to learn and show a lot of energy and enthusiasm," he said. "In fact, the biggest reward is the feedback, and I would also say inspiration, coming back to you from students."

Golding, professor of psychology, has been teaching at UK for his entire career, 26 years so far. He says it means a lot to him personally to be recognized as a great teacher by his students.

"There’s something about really connecting with your students and having them understand what you're saying," he said. "Sometimes you just see it in their eyes. When it finally clicks with them. That is very rewarding, and to be able to do that over and over again, it’s a nice thing."

Coyne, who teaches environmental microbiology and microbial ecology, says what motivates him as a teacher is seeing improvement. 

"It's motivating to see a good student who is kind of rough become a really great student by the time you’ve had enough exposure to them and really work with them hard enough on either their research or their coursework," he said. "You see that they get it and you see that those concepts are clicking along and you see that they’re starting to think independently for themselves."

Murphy, a course director for a first-year medical student course and co-course director for two other courses, said he was inspired by great teachers he had at various points in his education. 

"Somewhere along the line I think the trigger went off in my mind," he said. "I so much appreciate what these people did for  me, I want to give it back. I'm going to go ahead and do the same thing to best of my ability."

Hassan, director of simulation education and associate professor of anesthesiology in the UK College of Medicine, says he has enjoyed teaching since he was in medical school, because it gives him a unique sense of accomplishment.

"When I teach some students, or anybody that I know, any part of the knowledge that I have acquired and they are able to pass that on or use it to their benefit, I feel that I have achieved something," he said. 

The Great Teacher Award, started in 1961, is UK's longest-running award recognizing teaching. In order to receive the award, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selections. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and cash prize.