Teaching Academy Inducts New Fellows and Presents Imhoff Awards

Lori Holyfield
Photos by University Relations

Lori Holyfield

The University of Arkansas Teaching Academy recently inducted five new Fellows and named the finalists and the recipient of the 2016 Dr. John and Mrs. Lois Imhoff Award for Outstanding Teaching and Student Mentorship. 

The Imhoff Award winner is Lori Holyfield, professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, where it is estimated she has provided instruction to over 7,000 students in her large (350-plus) introductory General Sociology classes. Holyfield joined the U of A faculty in 1995 and earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Arkansas before earning her doctorate at the University of Georgia.

Holyfield was inducted into the Teaching Academy in 2001 and is a past recipient of the University of Arkansas Alumni Mentor Award, Fulbright College Master Teaching Award, and Fulbright College Outstanding Advisor Award.

Holyfield has earned a reputation for fairness and for modeling and encouraging respectful dialogs around controversial topics. Holyfield's students and advisees regularly praise her as an engaging, caring, and passionate teacher who takes a personal interest in their success all while providing a positive and challenging learning environment.

Tish Pohl

Ron Warren

The Teaching Academy also recognized two Imhoff Award finalists, Tish Pohl, Industrial Engineering; and Ron Warren, Communication. The Imhoff Award, presented annually by the Teaching Academy, recognizes faculty that excel in teaching introductory courses and in mentoring students.

The Teaching Academy Fellows inducted for 2016 were: John M. Gauch Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering; James J. Gigantino II Department of History; Christian Z. Goering Department Curriculum & Instruction; Susan W. Mayes Department of Health, Human Performance & Recreation; and Tish M. Pohl Department of Industrial Engineering.

John M. Gauch

John M. Gauch is the 2015 recipient of the College of Engineering Imhoff Award for Outstanding Teaching and in 2012 received the College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher Award. Prior to joining the University of Arkansas Gauch won the Archie and Nancy Dykes Outstanding Teaching Award at the University of Kansas, which is a University Award considered the most prestigious teaching award at the University of Kansas.

His colleagues describe him as a faculty member who "has always been and continues to be a pioneer in creating new teaching pedagogies for enhancing student learning. The students know John as a friendly professor who also takes genuine interest in each and every one of his students."

James J. Gigantino

James J. Gigantino II was awarded the Nolan Award for Graduate Teaching from the Fulbright College in 2014 and then won the Master Teacher Award in 2015 from Fulbright College in recognition of his overall commitment to teaching.

His role-playing simulations in which students take on the role of historical figures or historians themselves has become something of legend on campus. His introductory history course is a series of eight  separate role-playing simulations. One week students could be a U.S. senator discussing the Indian Removal Act or a poor laborer arguing that New York should revolt against the crown in 1776. The impact of Gigantino's teaching style was summarized in his nomination letter: "Allowing a student to become someone else makes them more likely to talk in class, flex their critical thinking muscles and become invested in the course."

Christian Z. Goering

Christian Z. Goering was awarded National Board Certification shortly before coming to the University of Arkansas, which is a rigorous process awarded to the most accomplished k-12 teachers. In 2011 the College of Education and Health Professions awarded him the Faculty STAR Award, which recognizes overall accomplishments in Service, Teaching, Advising and Research, an honor he has also won twice at the departmental level.

His pedagogical expertise puts him in high demand from k-12 teachers through his leadership roles with the Northwest Arkansas Writing Project, the Center for Children and Youth, the Arkansas Studio Project and Arkansas Literacy Outreach Corp. 

Students comments on his teaching evaluations indicate that he is consistently challenging students to meet high standards while supporting their learning with a sense of humor and creativity that they relish.

Susan Mayes

Susan W. Mayes a finalist for the 2015 Imhoff Award is the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award in her department, a four-time departmental advising award winner, twice winner of the outstanding student advising award in the College of Education and Health Professions, twice named the Outstanding Dance Educator in the state of Arkansas by the Arkansas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and in 2015 awarded the "Outstanding Dance Educator" by SHAPE America, a professional body spanning 13 southern states.

A former student praised Mayes for her excellent teaching and mentorship: "As a professor, Ms. Mayes makes class something to look forward to. She brings an energy to the classroom that cannot be matched. It was not a class I was looking forward to. She made all feelings of insecurity or embarrassment disappear. Her enthusiasm and love for dance was infectious and made everyone in the class forget that only weeks before they had no idea how to dance. I can't illustrate how lucky I feel to have Ms. Mayes as an advisor and professor. My experience at the University of Arkansas would not have been as memorable or as enjoyable had I not had that privilege."

Tish M. Pohl

Tish M. Pohl advises all industrial engineering students (about 250 students) and teaches predominantly tough, required, lower division courses and sets very high, but achievable, standards for her students.

Pohl's nomination letter describe Pohl's impact as a teacher and mentor: "Her interpersonal rapport is unsurpassed in the college. Students know that she cares not only about their learning but also about them as individuals. Through this personal connection with her students she  is able to motivate them to do their best work. Her teaching evaluations, even in these mandatory lower division courses, are among the best in the college and are a testament to the high esteem her students hold for her as a teacher."

The Teaching Academy consists of faculty members who have been recognized by their peers, colleges, and the university for excellence in teaching. Other criteria include a professor's ability to establish a special rapport with students, to instill a love for learning, and to encourage students to go beyond the expectations of the classroom and to explore their disciplines for themselves.

The Teaching Academy logo represents a drop of water falling into a pond creating ripples spreading out in all directions, having an effect which can neither be controlled nor predicted. So it is with the effect of outstanding teaching on students. For more information on the Teaching Academy, see uateach.uark.edu.


Lori Libbert, special events manager
Teaching and Faculty Support Center
479-575-3222, libbert@uark.edu


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