Chapman Professor of Legal Writing and Phyllis Hurley Frey Professor of Law Gina Nerger, Associate Professor of Psychology Jennifer Ragsdale and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Hema Ramsurn are The University of Tulsa’s Outstanding Teachers for 2021. Their devotion to teaching and mentoring molds the character and work ethic of students, preparing them for successful careers and lives.
Among the highest forms of recognition that TU can bestow on a member of the faculty is the Outstanding Teacher Award. Initiated in 1980, it is limited to three faculty members per year – less than 1% of the resident faculty. The winners are nominated by students and the selection is made by the elected Faculty Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate. Thus, the award represents recognition by both students and fellow faculty. The winners of this prestigious award will be honored at the 2021 commencement with a monetary award and a medallion. Past winners can be recognized by this medallion worn on a ribbon about the neck as part of their academic regalia.
Nerger earned her juris doctor degree from the College of Law in 2007 and became an assistant professor here in 2014. Her excellence in teaching is well documented and extends beyond the classroom to the mentoring, teaching and professional development she provides outside of the classroom. Nerger’s commitment to fostering excellence among all her students is demonstrated in the courses she teaches at TU Law and in the Collins College of Business, as well as in her former role as director of bar support at the law school.
A strong believer in the importance of legal writing in the law school curriculum, Nerger describes her teaching style as one of providing a “skills-based focus, preparing [students] for the types of legal writing ‘assignments’ they will soon prepare in practice.” She also meets one-on-one for conferencing with students several times during each semester, keeps an “open door” policy and assists job-seeking students with their cover letters and writing samples. In 2018, students named Nerger TU Law’s Outstanding First-Year Professor of the Year andthe Outstanding Upper-Class Professor of the Year.
Selected student comments
- “Professor Nerger is the best. She is very clear in her expectations, so there is never any confusion. Additionally, she is very kind and always willing to help.”
- “Professor Nerger is wonderful. I am so grateful that I had her for my first experience with legal writing. She is very approachable and encouraging to all her students.”
- “I have never had an instructor care so much for the quality of instruction given to online students or the quality of their learning. There is nothing I can think of that Professor Nerger could have done better than she did this semester.”
An expert in occupational health psychology, Jennifer Ragsdale began teaching in the Department of Psychology in 2011. Ragsdale gives her students the kind of caring attention to their individual progress that is a hallmark of TU’s teaching reputation. She is a top-notch teacher and scholar, widely regarded as innovative, caring and particularly attentive to the needs of her students.
A central tenet of Ragsdale’s teaching philosophy is the incorporation of personal and professional examples into class discussions. She strives to motivate students through dynamic and engaging lectures, activities and assignments that require them to work through course material and apply what they have learned to their own lives (e.g., how they organize brands in their memory) or real world situations (e.g., designing employee selection processes) at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and she has been able to do this in ways that have helped students cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ragsdale also uses class projects that are meaningfully tied to students’ research interests or career goals in order to create an environment that elicits students sharing their own experiences.
Selected student comments
- “I enjoyed this class more than I ever thought I would. The lectures were concise and very interesting. The activities helped me stay engaged and Professor Ragsdale was very accommodating about assignments.”
- “The instructor did a great job in being accessible for questions, explaining and providing information relating the course on time, and designing the course so students are successful.”
- “Dr. Ragsdale does well creating a relaxed, professional learning environment. She asks for and appears to value student input during discussions of course content.”
Since joining the Russel School of Chemical Engineering, Hema Ramsurn has been widely and enthusiastically regarded as caring, fair, challenging, engaged in her research and committed to her students’ success. “My goal as a teacher has always been to make a positive impact in the lives of my students not only in class but beyond,” Ramsurn said. “I want them to have this feeling that I am here not only to teach them some engineering principles in order to just pass exams but that I genuinely care about what they actually learn and how they will use this knowledge in their careers and lives.”
Ramsurn has been recognized as an excellent teacher for several years and has won five teaching awards at three different levels in three different years over a four-year time span: departmental Omega Chi Epsilon in 2019 and 2020, college Tau Beta Pi in 2017 and 2019; and college Kermit Brown in 2019. In addition to her excellent classroom teaching, Ramsurn mentors students outside of her courses. She has also advised the American Institute of Chemical Engineers student chapter, including a year in which they hosted the regional conference. She has also co-advised a Love’s Cup business plan team.
Selected student comments
- “Honestly, I love Professor Ramsurn. She is a very awesome, excellent and superb professor and I really enjoyed being in her class and I hope to take another class with her in the future. She is really invested in the success of students.”
- “Dr. Ramsurn is a great professor, in the classroom and outside. Her lectures are always very informative, interesting and well paced. She is very knowledgeable about the subjects that she teaches. Dr. Ramsurn is also a very approachable professor, which makes it easy to ask her questions in class and in her office.”
- “Dr. Ramsurn inspired me on day one with her enthusiasm and energy. She captivates the class and maintains a professional character while being personable, helpful, understanding, and kind.”