Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics Grace O and Associate Professor Jan Ligon, BSW program director in the School of Social Work, have been honored with the 2013 AYSPS Excellence in Teaching Award. The award recognizes tenured and non-tenured faculty, as nominated by students and faculty, for their teaching effectiveness and innovation as demonstrated by student demand and evaluations, commitment to curriculum development and advancement of new teaching methods, and distinguished advising.
Associate Professor Jan Ligon’s principal interests are mental health and substance abuse services in the public sector. Following his experience as a social worker in the state’s mental health system, he continues to emphasize the importance of improving these services through his teaching, training, service and publishing. In mid-2012 Ligon volunteered to fill the BSW program director vacancy, prior to the school’s accreditation site visit, having previously served for several years.
“Dr. Ligon’s willingness to assume this leadership role was a critical component of our school receiving full accreditation status for the maximum amount of time possible,” says Professor Nancy Kropf, director of the school.
“His contribution as a teacher and educator has been well documented over the 15 years he has served on our faculty,” she continues. “Not only does he receive exemplary student evaluations for his courses, but he has helped our school develop curriculum, launch our part-time MSW program, and successfully complete our program’s reaccreditation process. He has embraced the use of technology and brings relevance to his teaching by constantly modifying course content and methods of content delivery.”
Clinical Assistant Professor Grace O has taught Principles of Macroeconomics & Microeconomics, Advanced Macroeconomics and International Finance. Her primary research involves Macroeconomics, Aggregation Theory and Monetary Economics as well as the relationship between East Asia’s political economy and North Korea’s Economy. While an adjunct professor at Missouri Western State University in 2007, O also received a Teaching Excellence Award.
“Professor O is an exemplary faculty member in the areas of teaching and service, and her commitment to her students is a model for the entire department,” says Professor Sally Wallace, chair of the Department of Economics.
“Grace teaches a variety of courses, and she has excelled in all of them with student evaluation scores in the higher range of our undergraduate classes,” Wallace continues. “She is arguably the most successful undergraduate teacher we have in the Intermediate Macro CTW course, and she has also taken on the Honors section of the macro principles course and International Finance with her usual high level of success.
“She has taken it upon herself to develop students’ research potential through the Research Excellence in Economics Program (RE2P), individually mentoring 10 students per semester.” O develops these students as mentors, preparing all in her program to do research presentations at national conferences by requiring them to present at in-house research conferences where faculty evaluate their work.
“Grace’s program serves as a great model for signature experiences at the undergraduate and master’s level, and enhances the potential to draw honors students into our school and department,” says Wallace. “In summary, her teaching, innovations and commitment to excellence in student achievement are truly commendable.”