Faculty Corner: June 2024

Updates on Professors’ Contributions to the Academy, Campus, and Community

From a redesign grant, recognition of teaching excellence, and violence prevention training to new research, awards, and publications, 鶹ý professors continue to contribute to the academy, campus, and community.  Enjoy the latest roundup of 鶹ý newsmakers below.

Education Professor Layla Besson Awarded OhioLINK Grant

Layla Besson, professor of practice in 鶹ý’s department of education, recently joined 30 faculty members from Ohio colleges in receiving a course redesign grant through OhioLINK’s Open Educational Resources (OER).

With the grant, Besson will participate in an online course this summer to learn more about OER as she develops materials for her Education 352 class, “Upper Grades Intervention & Content Area Literacy.” OER also provides a consultation with a specialist librarian to help identify open resource alternatives to commercial texts in the course syllabus. Instructors would be able to use open- and/or library-licensed resources as early as fall semester 2024.

“The course spans the summer months, and the modules are helping me work through the process of developing my OER materials,” said Besson, who will receive a stipend for her work once the redesign is complete. “Additionally, there are three librarians attached to the grant who are working as experts to help facilitate our learning. They are holding online discussions, and they give us feedback on the tasks that we complete.”

The materials through OER are of high-quality and are publicly accessible free of charge. They can include textbooks, articles, videos, training modules, and any other resources, which are available to all users. Faculty grantees have also indicated that the OER-specialist librarian’s review of their syllabus was invaluable in helping them make the switch to OER

“These materials can be compiled, re-mixed, improved upon, and redistributed under specific licensing guidelines,” said Besson, who applied for the program for the first time. “By curating OER resources for my course, students will be able to access required course materials for free. This will save students money while offering a highly specialized set of materials that are not currently available. The OER materials that I develop will be made available free of charge to anyone else who wants to use them for their own course or for personal development.

“I hope to be able to use the information I've learned through this course and process to curate OER materials for other courses and to support other instructors in their own development of OER materials,” Besson added. “The ultimate goal of OER is to give people around the world equitable access to high-quality educational materials.”

Since March 2022, 146 grants have been awarded to instructors from across the state. The grants help instructors learn about teaching with OER, which could save students more than $1 million each year.

Learn more by visiting .

English Professor Scot Hinson Earns Collegium Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching

The Faculty Development Board recently announced that this year's Collegium Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching is Scot Hinson, associate professor of English.

An annual award that recognizes outstanding teaching as well as a faculty member's commitment to growing and improving as a teaching scholar, the Collegium Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching is the only teaching award at 鶹ý that is awarded by the faculty itself. Recipients must have taught for at least three years at the University to be eligible for the award, which carries a one-time $1,000 stipend.

Hinson joined 鶹ý’s English department in 1995 and teaches courses in expository writing, modern and contemporary American literature, American gothic literature, film and literature, and cinema studies.

As one colleague commented, "I have always marveled at Scot’s meticulous planning and his way of interweaving the texts he chooses with his overarching themes and theories. I also know that year after year, his courses attract students, and students rave about the courses once in them."

Student evaluations and comments reaffirm Hinson’s excellence in teaching. One student shared that the deep discussion Scot facilitates in his courses "... promoted a kind of learning rarely seen in higher education and education in general. It is a special kind of ability and consideration that enables that kind of deep reflection in students, enough to show them how to live their life to the best of their ability. The course's design helps students to become their very best possible selves."

Student Conduct Office Sponsors Green Dot Training

The Office of Student Conduct recently sponsored a Green Dot Bystander Intervention Training opportunity for the 鶹ý community.

Green Dot is a nationally recognized violence prevention program that empowers individuals to intervene in situations where they witness potential harm or violence. The training equips participants with the knowledge and skills to recognize warning signs, safely intervene, and create a culture of accountability and safety within a community.

Facilitated by staff members Gwen Owen, assistant vice president for student development and dean of student success, and Kristina Bryant, director of student conduct & deputy Title IX coordinator, the training session contributes significantly to ongoing efforts of promoting a safer and more supportive environment for everyone on campus.

Visiting Spanish Professor Verónica Torres Wins Provost's Award for Outstanding Teaching

The Faculty Development Board and the Office of the Provost recently announced that Verónica Torres is this year’s recipient of the Provost's Award for Outstanding Teaching. Recognizing the highest level of teaching excellence by a visiting or adjunct faculty member at 鶹ý University, the award carries a one-time $500 stipend.

Torres, visiting assistant professor of Spanish in the department of world languages and cultures, teaches courses in Spanish and in Latin American literatures and cultures. Her energetic and fast-paced teaching style is highly engaging and features a wide variety of activities and pedagogical techniques.

One peer highlights Torres’ unique contributions to 鶹ý through "the course she initiated, developed, and has taught multiple times on Latinx Diversity in the U.S. – a course which fulfills the Connections Curriculum U.S. diversity requirement, and which adds an immensely valuable cultural learning opportunity on campus. A number of heritage speakers and students of Hispanic descent have let me know how particularly meaningful the course has been for them.

Her courses come highly recommended by students as well. One colleague described how a rising senior shared "completely unprompted that Dr. Torres’ Latinx Diversity in the United States course from her first year at 鶹ý has been her favorite during her college career and that if she could take it again, she would."

Another student noted how Torres clearly "cared about students' learning and their success. She created other ways of learning and promoted outside opportunities to better their understanding and cultural exchange. Students who take the course will leave with a greater understanding of the language and of the varying aspects of culture."

Visiting Professors Shabana Bano and Rajnish Chandra Tripathi Leave Impact

Shabana Bano and husband Rajnish Chandra Tripathi spent the 2023-2024 academic year as visiting research scholars at 鶹ý.

Bano, associate professor of psychology at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, came to 鶹ý on a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship, hosted by her longtime collaborator Lauren Crane, 鶹ý associate professor of psychology and director of the University’s East Asian Studies program.

While at 鶹ý, Bano pursued her Fulbright project, which compares how parents from diverse backgrounds pass down their family’s religious and cultural heritage to their adolescent children in the U.S. and India. Additionally, she and Crane worked together on a replication study of their earlier collaborative research on “Perceptions of Islam and Personal Religiosity in the U.S. and India,” to determine how attitudes might have changed in the current political climate. They have also worked on launching a new collaborative project on how to support the psychosocial adaptation of immigrants in the U.S and India.

During the spring semester, Bano attended and contributed to Crane’s senior capstone “Cross-Cultural Research in Psychology” seminar, in which psychology majors worked to analyze essay-based data collected from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim religion instructors in U.S. and Indian high schools. She also presented her work (including collaborative research with Crane) at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in Salt Lake City, Utah and at the Midwestern Psychological Association in Chicago, Illinois.

Tripathi, a tenured assistant professor in the physical education department at the Government Girls College of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth, in Varanasi, India, was also hosted by Crane, the East Asian Studies Program, and by Hung-Sheng Hsu, assistant professor of health and sports studies in of the department of health and sports science at 鶹ý.

In the fall semester, Tripathi established a new collaborative relationship with Kati Fitzgerald, 鶹ý assistant professor of religion. In association with Fitzgerald’s First Year Seminar (FYS) course on yoga, the two conducted a research study on “Positive Youth Development through Yogic Practices in the U.S. and India: A Comparative Study of First-Year College Students.” The goal of this study was to better understand the effects of yogic practices in academic and extra-curricular environments on the success and well-being of first-year college students. They hope to extend this line of work in the future in collaboration with Hsu to gain a broader understanding of the relationship between yoga, health, and well-being.

Work of Religion Professor Katie Fitzgerald Published

Katie Fitzgerald, assistant professor of religion, has published a chapter titled "Critique, Reform, and Ethical Innovation: Buddhist Philosophies in Contemporary Tibetan Hip Hop,” in The Oxford Handbook of Lived Buddhism, edited by Courtney Bruntz, and Brooke Schedneck. .

Springfield City School District Honors Provost Brian Yontz

Six alumni of the (SCSD) have been recognized for their professional success and community service during the district’s 19th annual Alumni of Distinction Award program. Among those honored were Brian Yontz, provost and professor of education at 鶹ý, who is a graduate of North High Class of 1995.

Established in 2005 and according to the program materials, the SCSD Alumni of Distinction Award program annually seeks to honor those persons who, through outstanding performance and achievement, reflect credit on their years of learning in the Springfield City School District. The aim of the program is to help community members and present-day students find an identity with the past, establish goals for the future, and maintain an appreciation for the accomplishments of SCSD alumni.

Yontz joined 鶹ý in 2006 after beginning his career in higher education at Wright State University. He earned his B.A. from Asbury College, his M.S. from Wright State University, and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. He served as professor and chair of the 鶹ý’s department of education for multiple years before officially being named University Provost in 2023. Yontz is an award-winning teacher and scholar, winning the National Scholar Award in 2015 from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education. He has also earned recognition from 鶹ý, including the Matthies Award in 2018, the Excellence in Community Service Award in 2019, and the top faculty prize, the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching, in 2020. Moreover, Yontz has authored several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and has presented at numerous state and national conferences.

To view the SCSD award program video overview, visit the .

Recitation Hall
University Communications Staff
Staff Report

About 鶹ý

鶹ý's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, 鶹ý has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, 鶹ý offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

Back to top