The University of Tulsa has named its Outstanding Teachers for 2018.
Jennifer Airey, associate professor of English language and literature, Michael Keller, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Steven Tipton, professor of mechanical engineering, were honored at the May Commencement ceremony for their devotion to teaching and mentoring TU students.
The university inaugurated the Distinguished Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1980. Honorees may receive the award only once in a lifetime, and only three awards are made annually. The award is especially meaningful because it must be initiated by a student’s nomination, and the winners are selected by colleagues who serve on the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate. Each honoree receives a medal and a stipend.
Airey came to TU as an assistant professor of English in 2008 with a Ph.D. degree from Boston University. She is commended for the impressive diversity of her course offerings, the originality of her teaching style and her success in inspiring students to accept the challenges of independent learning. She has established herself as an educator who is sensitive to the needs of her students, rigorous in her standards and accessible to students. In nominating Airey for this award, her students emphasized the dynamism she brings to the classroom along with her skill in addressing the needs of students of various levels in order to connect them to the material; her high intellectual standards, combined with objective, clear methods of assessment; and her generosity to and support for her students, most vividly present in her individual mentoring. Airey’s accolades include her receipt in 2014 of the Kendall College Excellence in Teaching Award and the Linda J. Lacey Award for Mentoring Excellence in Women’s & Gender Studies.
Keller came to TU the fall of 2008 after he received his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2013, he received the Kermit Brown Award for Teaching Excellence from the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences and was awarded the 2017 Ralph Teetor Engineering Educator Award by the Society of Automotive Engineers. These awards are tangible evidence of what his colleagues in mechanical engineering have known for some time: Mike Keller is a superb teacher. Further, Keller serves as a role model for his students through his own accomplishments, his positive attitude, his humility, sense of humor and strong work ethic. He utilizes the latest teaching innovations and technology in his classroom, including development of his own instructional videos and use of the flipped classroom concept. He continues to search for ways to be a more effective teacher and never rests on his laurels. In short, Keller always does what is best for his students.
Tipton came to TU as an assistant professor 34 years ago with a Ph.D. degree from Stanford University. Throughout his career in Tulsa, he has established himself as a dedicated, enthusiastic and innovative instructor. As tangible evidence of his teaching excellence, he received the Tau Beta Pi Professor of the Year Award for the college in 2006 and 2011 and is thought to be the only TU professor to have received this award twice. He also received the 1993 Ralph Teetor Engineering Educator Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Mortar Board Professor of the Year for the ENS College on two occasions. Tipton is well known for his mastery of his subject matter, his infectious enthusiasm and his ability to bring practical engineering examples to the classroom. Further, he invents projects in which his students design and build a device and then either predict its performance or compete against other students. His “ME Freshmen vs. Seniors Widget-Building Competition” has become a 25-year TU tradition – with no idea ever repeated. It is said he seems to enjoy teaching more with each passing year.