outstanding teachers - The University of Tulsa

outstanding teachers

Outstanding Teachers 2021

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.

woman with blonde hair and a black blouseGina Nerger

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.”

woman with brown and blonde hair and glassesJennifer Ragsdale

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.”

woman with black hair and grey jacketHema Ramsurn

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.”




Outstanding Teachers selected for devotion to students and mentoring

Collins Professor of Computer Information Systems Lori Leonard, Stanley Rutland Professor of American History Andrew Wood and Associate Professor of Law Matt Lamkin are TU’s Outstanding Teachers for 2020. Their devotion to teaching and mentoring molds the character and work ethic of students, preparing them for successful careers and lives.

The university inaugurated the Distinguished Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1980. Honorees may receive the award once in a lifetime, and only three awards are given 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.

Matt Lamkin

outstanding teachersSince joining the College of Law faculty in 2013, Lamkin has earned the praise and admiration of his students. He has been recognized by students for his outstanding teaching every semester he has taught in the TU College of Law, translating to many awards. In his first two years at TU and again in 2018-2019, students voted to recognize Lamkin with the College of Law Outstanding First Year Professor Award. In 2015-16, he was honored as the Outstanding Upper-Class Professor.

Lamkin’s teaching philosophy is “driven by a desire to teach his students critical skills that will endure beyond their recollection of any particular law school subject matter.” He achieves this by teaching analysis and argument and helping students engage with the course materials in effective ways.

Student Comments:

  • “Helped me with my writing ability and had a continuing conversation about my paper and what I needed to do to write a paper effectively.”
  • “Professor Lamkin always made himself available for us to meet with him and was always very helpful and provided bonus sessions, which were a huge help to preparing for the exam. I also enjoyed the ‘life lesson’ talks he would give on occasion; they were an encouragement to me.”
  • “This has been my favorite class so far. I really like it that Lamkin takes his time to explain the different concepts. It’s useful when we move on to the next topic and they correlate.”

Lori Leonard

outstanding teachersWith over 25 years of teaching experience, Leonard has called TU home for the past 21 years. Beyond the lives she’s impacted along the way, she has even more to show for her time as a professor. In total, she’s collected 15 teacher awards, one Mayo Teaching Excellence Award from the Collins College of Business, two Most Valuable Professor awards and one mention as an Exceptional Mentor.

Course evaluations and student comments reinforce the care and concern that Leonard gives her students to ensure they thrive as professionals. She advises approximately 15 students every semester for enrollment while also mentoring many in the computer information systems major. Many TU students are on campus, at least partially, because of Leonard. Until she became associate dean of the Graduate School, she was heavily involved in meeting with prospective undergraduates. Now she continues to meet with prospective graduate students.

Student Comments:

  • “I absolutely would not be where I am today without your impactful mentorship and considerate advice.”
  • “Thank you for being such an influential person, not only in my life, but in the lives of so many others! The thoughtfulness and care you exude for your students does not go unnoticed!
  • “I still am grateful you fit me (a junior…who was having a mid-life crisis at 21) into your schedule to talk about what CIS was.”

Andrew Wood

outstanding teachersWith a TU tenure of over 20 years, Wood is dedicated to the instruction of diverse material. He largely teaches general education block courses with international and cross-cultural influences that provide a well-rounded, college-level liberal arts education. As a passionate, committed and experienced professor, Wood deploys a variety of pedagogical techniques including dynamic lecture mixed with Socratic Method, humor, music, film, discussion groups, class presentations, posters, field research and various online web interventions/engagements.

In the classroom, Wood focuses on fostering fundamental critical thinking skills, a curiosity about the world and an active concern for basic democratic values. In course evaluation comments, students frequently commend Wood’s subject knowledge, engaging presentation style and sense of humor, as well as his clear and supportive explanations and assignment feedback.

Student Comments:

  • “In my three years at The University of Tulsa, I have yet to encounter a more dedicated, hard-working or caring professor as Dr. Wood.”
  • “I have constantly been impressed by his dedication to making history come alive in the classroom and impressing on his students the importance of studying the history of those who have been oppressed and forgotten in history.”
  • “Very knowledgeable and his investment in the class motivated the students to want to learn.”