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Celebrating Teaching Excellence

A number of Agronomy faculty and staff were honored at the annual Celebration of Teaching Excellence ceremony for the College of Agriculture. The ceremony was introduced by Dr. John Lumkes, Assistant Dean & Associate Director of OAP, who throughout the evening brought attention to details about each award nominee that make them excellent people as well as excellent educators. Dean Bernie Engel followed up by highlighting the vast number of Book of Great Teachers nominees that come from the College of Agriculture, some of whom were also present for this ceremony. He also stated how he loves to hear stories from Purdue alumni whose futures have been positively impacted by Ag faculty and staff.

John Lumkes speaking at Teaching Excellence event
Bernie Engel speaking at Teaching Excellence event

Dr. Laura Bowling was featured prominently throughout the ceremony, having been selected for a number of awards this year. Dr. Bowling, who was also the 2022 Kohls Outstanding Teacher, spoke about "closing the loop", and her involvement with students as the Director of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences (NRES). She stated that all faculty who are part of NRES have their hands in multiple facets of each program, which establishes better connection for students across the board. Dr. Bowling also touched on the importance of ambassador mentor-mentee relationships, which are fostered further via tailored events put on by NRES. Furthermore, she noted the value of aligning the concentrations students may choose with their future career paths, as well as maintaining a safety net of resources for students to promote their success.

Laura Bowling speaking at Teaching Excellence event
Among many other honors and awards this year, Dr. Laura Bowling was selected for the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Excellence in College & University Teaching Award in Food & Agricultural Sciences, and was inducted into the Book of Great Teachers.

All nominees for the evening's awards were invited to be recognized, as Dr. Lumkes commented that the difference between those nominated and those awarded was "splitting hairs". Each nominee, awarded or not, has made significant contributions to the benefit of students in the College of Agriculture. Agronomy nominees included Dr. Shalamar Armstrong, Dawn Bull, Dr. Keith Johnson, Dr. Shams Rahmani, Dr. Mitch Tuinstra, Dr. Diane Wang, Jane Wiercioch, and Dr. Cankui Zhang.

Teaching Excellence nominees

Two nominees from Agronomy were selected as finalists. Dr. Rahmani, Soils Laboratory Coordinator, received the Outstanding Teacher Award for Clinical Faculty or Lecturers. Jane Wiercioch, Undergraduate Program Advisor, was presented with the Outstanding Undergraduate Advising Award, which was a new and first time award for the College of Agriculture.

Shams Rahmani receiving award
Dr. Shams Rahmani receiving the Outstanding Teacher Award for Clinical Faculty or Lecturers
Jane Wiercioch receiving award
Jane Wiercioch receiving the Outstanding Undergraduate Advising Award

Dr. Christine Wilson, Senior Associate Dean & Director of Academic Programs closed out the evening by congratulating all of the nominees, of which there were many. She celebrated how fortunate the College of Agriculture is to have such a great number of dedicated individuals, and how difficult it is to choose the finalists from the group when each is worthy of praise.

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