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2017 University Professorship honorees share academic wisdom

2017 University Professorship honorees share academic wisdom

Jun 06 2017

Four professors were honored with the University Professorship Distinction on May 2nd during the annual Service Awards Ceremony.

Established in 2014, the award recognizes the University's most extraordinary professors for their continuous hard work and devotion towards the education and overall success of their students. Their positive impact extends beyond the classroom and they are committed to providing students with an exceptional learning experience on a daily basis. The honorees will carry the title of University Professors for two years. 

The University Professorship awards are made possible through the generous donations of several sponsors and the Clayton State University Foundation. University Professors will receive $5,000 annually during the two years they are appointed. 

Michiko Otaki
College of Arts and Sciences
Director of Keyboard Studies

How do you positively influence your students and colleagues through your work?

I am not sure if I am giving anyone positive influences! But I would like to think that if one sincerely loved one’s chosen field, recognized the infinite room for improvement in one’s journey in the field, and continued to strive in developing oneself as a scholar/artist, that would be inspiring to the students.

What are some ways you keep students engaged in and outside the classroom?

I try to be as observant as possible of students’ problems as well as progress to keep my teaching relevant.

How do you shape the learning experience to ensure students are prepared to be critical thinkers and leaders in the workforce?

Some components intrinsically required in successful musically studies—patience, attentiveness, imagination, and compassion, among others—perhaps naturally lead one to become a worthy citizen and a leader.  My job is to assist students in acquiring and developing these important life skills and human qualities.

How does it feel to be recognized by your colleagues with such a prestigious endeavor?
I am quite humbled.  I will continue to do my very best to live up to such high honor.

Dr. Susan Duley
College of Health
Chair of the Department of Dental Hygiene

How do you positively influence your students and colleagues through your work?

As the Department Chairperson for the Dental Hygiene Program at Clayton State University, I have the opportunity to promote the “team concept” among students, faculty and staff. This approach to educating our students, models behavior they will need in dental hygiene practice. In order to be successful in practice, the hygienist must be willing to take on many different roles. At Clayton, this is how we approach student teaching and learning as we care for patients in our dental hygiene clinic. All faculty and staff support each other as colleagues. There is modeling of, an expectation that we all work together for the good of the students and the program.

What are some ways you keep students engaged in and outside the program?

Students in the Clayton State University Dental Hygiene Program are very engaged in and outside the program. As part of the program experience, we have a dental hygiene student association which works to host on campus and off campus events to promote oral health. They host a Dental Hygiene Day on campus and, a Martin Luther King Day of Remembrance event in our dental hygiene clinic by offering free oral health screenings to the public along with patient education. Outside the program, students participate in community activities such as Congressman David Scott’s Annual Health Fair along with many community oral health programs as required in their community dental health class. Students also travel each year to the annual session of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association where they present a scientific research table clinic.

How do you shape the learning experience to ensure students are prepared to be critical thinkers and leaders in the workplace?

As part of each dental hygiene oral health assessment appointment in our clinic, students develop a dental hygiene diagnosis for patient care. Each step requires them to call upon their oral health knowledge and apply it as they develop their care plan. As the program at Clayton State University is one of only two bachelor of science in dental hygiene degree programs in Georgia, we offer course content and experiences to develop, promote and enhance good leadership skills. As a bachelor level prepared dental hygienist, our graduates are well educated and positioned to take on leadership roles in their profession.

How does it feel to be recognized by your colleagues with such a prestigious endeavor? 

Receiving the University Professorship Award representing the College of Health, is a great honor. I have served as the Dental Hygiene Department Chair at Clayton for nine years and had the privilege of working with wonderful professional colleagues. These educators are engaged in excellence as they provide teaching and learning experiences for students preparing to be health care providers of tomorrow. I am very grateful for the opportunity to represent the College of Health.

Dr. Kelli Nipper
College of Information and Mathematical Sciences
Professor of Mathematics and M.A.T Content Coordinator

How do you positively influence your students and colleagues through your work?

As an alumnus, I know first-hand that Clayton State University is a special place. My positive past experience as a student here impacts my current work with students and colleagues. Whether it be my research on the teaching of teachers, my service to Clayton State and to local school systems, or my teaching, I strive for excellence in my work. My door is always open to students and faculty. I actively encourage students to communicate with me through any means that they are able. I openly share my ideas with colleagues during “Lunch & Learns”, department/college meetings, and even in the hallway. It is my hope that students and colleagues will remember me as fondly as I do those that I have worked with here.

What are some ways you keep students engaged in and outside the classroom?

Learning is an active process that involves individuals making sense of new information and experiences given what the individual already knows and believes. Therefore, engaging students in and outside of the classroom is fundamental to the learning process. Some strategies that I currently use to promote the engagement of students in and outside of the classroom follow:

· I integrate technology in order to enhance instruction, provide immediate feedback to students and be more accessible to students.
· I incorporate hands-on activities and collaborative learning strategies to help students connect prior knowledge to new content.
· I post video lectures and other resources for students.
· I send out email newsletters to students and advisees to encourage communication and participation.

It is critical for teachers to actively seek strategies that promote engagement. I am fortunate to have excellent colleagues to brainstorm ideas with and I look forward to finding new strategies to implement.

How do you shape the learning experience to ensure students are prepared to be critical thinkers and leaders in the workforce?

As a mathematics teacher and teacher educator, I believe that I have been given the awesome responsibility of providing opportunities for students to be successful in their pursuit of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to be successful in their chosen fields. The principles that follow can be seen as the guiding values and goals for my teaching that I believe shape the learning experience:

· Acknowledging, valuing, and incorporating each individual’s differences into the design of curriculum, pedagogical, and assessment strategies.
· Supporting and challenging students’ existing knowledge and beliefs.
· Providing opportunities for students to deepen and expand their understanding, beginning with what they bring and moving them towards the understanding they need in order to communicate and reason.
· Transforming content into culturally relevant learning experiences that make connections to reality and other disciplines.
· Providing opportunities for students to explore content in a manner that is consistent with how learning occurs.
· Provoking students to reflect on the meaning and usefulness of content through problem solving, critical thinking, and communication.
· Integrating technology into instruction as a teaching and learning tool.
· Incorporating a variety of assessment techniques to gather information about students in order to enhance learning and inform practice.

As I prepare undergraduate and graduate students to be teachers, I strive to provide experiences that help them to value the life-long task of personal and professional development. From reading research articles and attending state conferences with undergraduates to working on research presentations and publications with graduate students, learning experiences are aimed at empowering students to become life-long learners.

How does it feel to be recognized by your colleagues with such a prestigious endeavor?

I am deeply honored and pleased to be named a recipient of this prestigious award. It is certainly a humbling experience to be recognized for doing what I love to do. I owe a special acknowledgement to my colleagues for being such excellent role models and friends. It is truly humbling to be recognized by them for making a meaningful impact in the lives of students and colleague. I am thankful to be a part of the faculty here.

Dr. Margaret Thompson
College of Business
Professor of Management

How do you positively influence your students and colleagues through your work?

Overall, the most positive influence on students comes as they learn to analyze, interpret and engage in their communities. For example, several years ago, I started the process of establishing a Society of Human Resource Management  Chapter here at Clayton State. This chapter has continued to be recognized across Atlanta and the state for excellent programming and award-winning students. When I first came to Clayton State, I envisioned a Human Resource Leadership focus for our students. To date, we have over 50 students enrolled in our HRL concentration in our MBA program, and these are working professionals who are either in HR or aspire to be after graduating from our program. We interact with professionals in the Atlanta area to bolster their experiences and network. Many students go on to be promoted or placed in their desired HR positions.

What are some ways you keep students engaged in and outside the classroom?

I use adult learning  and active learning theories in the classroom -- no surprise since my PhD is in Human Resource Development! Students learn by understanding an idea, then applying it to a case study or real life situation. For example, I have a panel of experts come to judge the final presentations in my Talent Development class. Over the years, I've facilitated 100s of 'service learning" projects through class assignments, including in my Women in Leadership course.

How do you shape the learning experience to ensure students are prepared to be critical thinkers and leaders in the workforce?

In my MBA Leadership Communication and undergraduate Leadership courses, I try to help students by giving them theories and tools they can use to make intentional choices about their behavior. The more aware they are if their own behavior, and the more intentional they are, the more impact they have have on the community and the world.
Over the past 6 years, I've directed 6 study abroad programs to countries including Turkey, Cuba, The Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, and Prague. I have taken students from the USA, but also other countries including dozens from Saudi Arabia. Students have told me that these experiences have impacted their lives more than anything else in school!

How does it feel to be recognized by your colleagues with such a prestigious endeavor?

I think there are many deserving faculty, and I wish we could recognize all of them! I believe I make an impact, but there are many others who deserve this award.

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