Winners of the 2024 Excellence in Teaching Awards, from left, Ji Eun Kim, Allison Wilck and David Pruett. (Photo by Jon Styer / EMU)

ACE Festival announces winners of 2024 Excellence in Teaching awards

Hosted by the Provost’s Office, the 15th annual EMU Authors’ Reception and Awards Presentation on Thursday recognized and celebrated the winners of the university’s Excellence in Teaching Awards.

The award celebrates the outstanding teaching work of faculty in three categories: adjunct faculty who teach part time at EMU, instructors and assistant professors, and professors and associate professors.

A total of 49 nominations were sent in this year for 21 different teachers. The winners are:

Adjunct faculty: David Pruett

Pruett is a retired professor of applied mathematics at James Madison University. He teaches adjunct courses at EMU.

One student wrote about how adept Pruett is at sharing his engineering experience and encouraging students to dream about what they might do. This student praised his ability to use “both professor-led instruction and project-based instruction” and concluded, “Dr. P has left an impact on me as a student and as a future educator, making me reflect on how I will serve my students and ignite their passion through enthusiasm and kindness.”

Instructors and assistant professors: Allison Wilck

Wilck is an assistant professor of psychology at EMU.

One student wrote, “Allison has been a steady source of support, encouragement, and advice. She teaches students with passion and encourages and expects students to think about how the material applies to them and their lives. It is clear that she puts thought and time into her teaching and makes changes as necessary to better engagement.”

Another student wrote: “She is the best professor I have ever had. She takes time with all her students to make sure we understand the materials she brings forward. Allison is always willing to help. … Also, she has a very good sense of humor.”

And another student wrote, “Allison has made the 8 a.m. neuropsychology class I’m taking with her feel really accessible and more approachable than I was expecting. She’s managed to make even the least science minded folks (including me) feel at least O.K.” This same student added, “She really seems to put a lot of thought and effort into how she teaches, engages with us and presents the information while still being open to suggestions to better meet student’s needs. I find myself asking more in depth questions in her class than is typical for me (especially at 8 a.m.), which I think says a lot about her and the environment she creates in the classroom.”

Associate professors and professors: Ji Eun Kim

Kim is an associate professor of political science at EMU.

One student wrote, “She is a great professor, one of the smartest people that I know, an expert in her field, and is always there if you need help.” Her kindness and understanding helped this student “navigate her class and college in general.”

Another student wrote that Kim “is exceedingly knowledgeable in the field of political science and international relations, yet she has consistent patience with every student question and perspective, validating the viewpoints and contributions of every individual.” 

A third student praised her “exceptional skills in structuring class and fostering participatory engagement among students. Her approach to assignments involves a perfect balance of challenge and support. What sets her apart is not only her prowess as an educator but also her exceptional listening skills and willingness to support students individually. She goes beyond traditional teaching methods, creating an environment where students not only learn but experience true growth.”

Eligibility for the awards were informed by the following criteria: Impact on students, effective teaching practices, subject knowledge, and continual growth. The awards committee includes Seidel, previous award winners Laurie Yoder and Ben Bergey, Athletic Director Carrie Bert and junior Cassidy Walker.

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