Originally publish on December 9th, 2013 in the K-State Collegian
It came as little surprise to many of his former students when Gregory Eiselein, professor in English, director of K-State First and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar, was named the 2013 Kansas Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. He is a highly recommended professor by both advisers and former students – holding a near perfect rating on ratemyprofessor.com.
“The nomination happened in April,” Eiselein said. “I didn’t hear anything for a long time and it seemed like such a big award that I didn’t expect to win it. I was really surprised and delighted when I heard.”
Every college and university in the United States and its territories is allowed to nominate two professors for a Carnegie/CASE award. The nominations were based on letters from the professors’ colleagues and students. The applications then went through several rounds of elimination, the first of which had the judges selecting the top 100 candidates regardless of their school or state. From there, a top professor was selected to win the national award in the categories of community colleges, baccalaureate colleges, master’s universities, and doctoral and research universities. After this the judges awarded the top remaining professors for their state.
Under this system not every state has a “state professor of the year,” as it is possible for every professor from that state to be eliminated in the first round of selections.
After earning his bachelors degree at the University of Idaho and his Ph.D at the University of Iowa, Eiselein made his way to K-State in 1996 and became a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar in 2008. He is well-known for his energy and enthusiasm when teaching and for his work as the director of K-State First, a program designed to help first year students acclimate to college.
“Like many great teachers, Greg respects the contribution that each student makes to the class,” said Karin Westman, associate professor and department head for the English department, who nominated Eiselein for the award. “He fosters students’ intellectual curiosity; prompting them to discover what they can learn, value, question and admire about the course material. He sets the stage for their learning and keeps the focus on their experience, not his own role in that learning.”
This conclusion was shared by one of Eiselein’s current students.
“I like that Professor Eiselein wants us to form our own opinions,” said Michaela Sievers, freshman in biology and current student in Eiselein’s “Great Books” class. “He’s really good about pushing us to the next level of thinking. If we say something, he’ll ask us why we think that.”
There were more reasons behind Eiselein’s nomination than just his teaching ability.
“Greg Eiselein is one of the most committed, engaged faculty members in a department of highly committed, engaged faculty,” Westman said. “Moreover, his commitment and engagement extends beyond the English classroom to all undergraduate students at Kansas State, thanks to the success of K-State First, a program which he helped create and grow.”
Eiselein said that he wants to find new ways to improve his work at K-State.
“I love working with faculty, to put our heads together to make our classrooms better,” Eiselein said. “I want to continue to work with faculty to create 21st century classrooms. Technology is a ubiquitous part of their lives, [and I want to] find really meaningful uses for technology. Not just a professor operating a remote to advance a PowerPoint, but ways of teaching that get students involved by using technology. I’d also like to see K-State First grow and develop at K-State.”
Despite always wanting to improve, Eiselein said he remains focused on his passion of student learning.
“I love seeing students getting excited about being at college and learning,” Eiselein said. “I love seeing students who look at an amazing, but difficult piece of literature and think ‘that’s too boring or that’s too hard;’ then teaching them how to read it and seeing them get excited about a book that they didn’t think they would enjoy.”
Eiselein is the 11th K-State professor to win a Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie/CASE Foundation since 1990. For comparison, that is more than the all the universities in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma combined.