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2019 Stephen E. Fritz Excellence in Teaching Award

2019 Stephen E. Fritz Excellence in Teaching Award

May 22nd , 2019

The Stephen E. Fritz Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 2010 by Dr. Thom and Barbara Christensen to recognize excellence in teaching as personified by our former Midland President, Stephen Fritz, who encouraged effective faculty role modeling for students during his tenure at Midland.  Several criteria are used to evaluate nominees for this award, including serving diverse student learning needs modeling ethical and leadership behaviors being accessible to students in-person and virtually mentoring students creating and using teaching practices that promote engagement and effective learning, including the use of technology engaging students in campus/community/global activities

The Fritz Award honor goes each year to a faculty member who excels in meeting these criteria. This prestigious award carries with it, $2500 to be used as the faculty member sees fit.

Students and alumni frequently describe this year's recipient of the Stephen E. Fritz Excellence in Teaching Award as one of the best, if not the best, teachers they've ever had.  One student's comment is representative of a whole host of others, "[This Professor] runs one of the best classes I've ever participated in…His class model should be followed tightly by all other professors."

Being relentlessly relevant using a marketplace back approach had guided this professor's teaching long before it was formalized in the University's current vision.  Similarly, this professor has been engaging students through industry-relevant technology long before launching the digital age learning strategic initiative.  Always willing to try new and innovative approaches to teaching, this professor has enthusiastically embraced the iPad and has used it to teach all spring.  One student remarked, "This was one of the most relevant and helpful courses I have ever taken. I feel very well-prepared to enter the real world and work with this software daily." Another student shared, '[this professor] creates assignments that are relevant to the real world."   

Being relentlessly relevant is not just about using industry-specific examples, assignments, and technology. It's also about a teaching approach that is relevant to students and meets them where they are.  A sampling of student comments reinforces this as a strong theme in this professor's teaching. "[This professor] taught in a way we all could understand and related it to everyday life," and, "[This professor] is an amazing teacher…not only does [this professor] teach us the course material but [this professor] finds a way to relate it to real life, so we know we can use this almost every day."

One of the greatest compliments that a teacher can get is when students view their course as challenging and rigorous at the same time they find their learning enjoyable and rewarding. This professor has received no shortage of these compliments, for example, "I enjoyed taking this class.  It was challenging, and it made you think.  Overall, I found this course difficult but rewarding."

At Midland, we are grounded in our focus on students first.  This year's Fritz award recipient exemplifies a 'students first' mindset, offering constant support to students outside the classroom to ensure their success.  Underpinning, this is a simple fact that he cares.  Over and over again, students' remarks support this, such as "he cares about students and wants each one of them to succeed," "he showed strong interest in the success of each student," "showed that he cared about my learning in this subject!" "he made sure he was helping us in any way he could without 'babying' us."  

This professor frequently carries a 30 credit hour load yet, finds the time to extend his interest in students' lives beyond the classroom by attending student athletics, performing arts, and honors events and then following up with conversations about the events later on. 

This year's Fritz Award winner has been a vital part of the Midland community for over 25 years.  His dedication to learning and students' success during and after their time at Midland is immeasurable.