Distinguished Teaching Awards Overview & Past Recipients

The Distinguished Teaching Awards recognize and celebrate faculty for exceptional contributions to undergraduate education through innovative pedagogy and other impactful teaching practices. Recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award are seen as exemplars of our teacher-scholar model, who inspire the rest of the UM-Dearborn community to be committed to an undergraduate education of academic excellence and to preparing students for a lifetime of learning and growth. Two awards are given annually.

If you are seeking information on Distinguished Teaching Award recipients prior to the years listed below, please contact the Office of the Provost.

2019 Award Recipient, Nilay Chakraborty

Nilay Chakraborty, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), is a 2019 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Professor Chakraborty received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in 2008. He was hired by the University of Michigan-Dearborn in the Fall 2012 term and has since provided excellent service to the university and, more importantly, to his students.

Professor Chakraborty possesses a teaching style which bears rich fruit for his students. He does not simply dictate information but instills a mode of thinking and problem solving useful for the classroom, in research, and for professional application. Nilay displays his own unique and fresh style to the class. He is known mostly for bioengineering courses, such as bioprocessing and biomimetics. His efforts were critical in the formation of the bioengineering program, still in its infancy, that also gives options to students who wish to pursue interdisciplinary studies. In graduate courses, he places strict value on individual student development and a targeted progression to the research aspect of self-sustaining intellectual pursuit. It is rare to hear an ill-spoken word about his classes.

Those who know him best are the largest benefactors of his guidance; however, every student that is seen with him seems to take away something important from the interaction. He will bend over backward to provide opportunity for his students, indeed, for any student who asks. Of course, everyone benefits from the experience and lessons taught in the classroom and research lab. But Professor Chakraborty goes beyond these, by helping each student chart a course to their own personal interests—recommending avenues of study, providing direct industry connections for aspiring professionals, and networking with his array

of contacts in academia to enrich the value of the individual student. Many have witnessed his deep involvement in student success numerous times.

Professor Chakraborty’s earnest commitment to students and exemplary teaching abilities are a true asset to any university. The University of Michigan-Dearborn salutes him and proudly presents to him the Distinguished Teaching Award.

2019 Award Recipient, Bochen Jia

Bochen Jia, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE) in the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), is a recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Professor Jia has been with the College of Engineering and Computer Science teaching human factors and ergonomics for almost six years. He is an excellent educator who has established an outstanding record in several aspects of teaching, including classroom instruction at sophomore, junior, and graduate levels

(both M.S. and Ph.D.); curriculum, course, and laboratory development; and student mentorship. Students consider him to be an effective and knowledgeable instructor who is always prepared for class. Students have made many positive comments about his concern with student learning and his tremendous willingness to help.

Professor Jia significantly improved human factors and ergonomics offerings in IMSE and CECS. He secured a $50,000 award from DENSO North America Foundation to develop a comprehensive educational program to train

undergraduate students at UM-Dearborn to work in small interdisciplinary and diverse teams to address practical design issues facing the automotive industry.

Beyond his excellent contributions in the classroom, Professor Jia has distinguished himself as an outstanding faculty mentor for student design teams participating in the annual national Ergonomics Design Competition.  He organized and advised 13 different student teams (over 65 students) for this competition. In 2015, one of his teams finished in the top five nationally, and in

2016, one of his teams that included students from three different undergraduate programs (industrial, manufacturing, and bioengineering) won First Place among 46 teams from Auburn, Texas A&M, and other nationally recognized universities. The team received a $1,500 cash award plus $5,000 in travel funds to attend the award ceremony at the national conference.

His dedication to teaching excellence both in and outside the classroom makes him a model faculty member. Quoting one student, “Dr. Jia is an extraordinary teacher, a respected advisor, and a kind and generous human being, devoted to student success.” He is an excellent young educator who is a role model for other faculty in the college as a teacher and a scholar.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn salutes Professor Jia and proudly presents to him the Distinguished Teaching Award.

2018 Award Recipient, Brahim Medjahed

Brahim Medjahed, associate professor of Computer and Information Science, is an outstanding educator with an excellent teaching record. He highly values student success, which is exemplified by his efforts in implementing effective instructional methods, holding recitation sessions for his students beyond his classes, adopting open door academic advising, coaching student teams in competitions, engaging undergraduate students in research, revitalizing academic programs, and developing timely new courses.  He is one of the most popular teachers in the Computer and Information Science (CIS) department. His teaching evaluations by students have consistently placed him among the top few faculty members in the department. With regard to his teaching style, one student remarked, “He is engaged with his students and portrays his interest in our success with projects that are involving and challenging and knowledge on the subjects that he teaches that is up to date and cutting edge. He is always adapting his classes to engage students in the subject at hand and explains things in a way that supports questions and has no problem stopping and clarifying anything that has confused students. All in all a great professor and a stand up individual.”

Dr. Medjahed is highly respected by peers for his passion for education and devotion to engage students, not only inside but also outside the classroom. He coached two undergraduate multidisciplinary student teams that received competitive awards in student competitions. He also regularly involves undergraduate and graduate students in research sponsored by NSF, TRW Automotive, and Ford. His research with undergraduates was showcased in various media outlets at the college and campus levels as well as local and national media. With respect to his co-curricular activities, one student commented, “While classroom instruction is a key portion of teaching excellence, it is the extra time spent in advising, mentoring, and directing students that shows true commitment on the part of a professor. It is in this area that Prof. Medjahed really distinguishes himself.”

Dr. Medjahed has been the CIS department’s graduate director since 2010. During the past 8 years, he was in charge of continuously strengthening our graduate programs. He recently played a pivotal role in successfully implementing one of the first departmental PhD programs in CECS. Dr. Medjahed is currently the co-director of the new MS in Data Science (DS) program. This is an interdisciplinary program that involves all four colleges on campus, which is nicely handled by Dr. Medjahed. As the graduate director, Dr. Medjahed is highly esteemed by students for providing effective academic advices. In this respect, one faculty stated, “It is very common to find groups of students outside Dr. Medjahed’s office lining-up for academic advising.” Dr. Medjahed also actively participates in curriculum improvement and teaching development efforts across campus through his membership in various teaching-related committees such as the UCDC Graduate Subcommittee and the Hub for Teaching and Learning.

Another notable accomplishment that sets Dr. Medjahed apart is his interest in scholarly work in engineering education, besides his main computer science research activities. He was co-awarded a $900K NSF grant to foster K12 student interest in information technology. He is also co-author of several publications in engineering education research including one book published by Springer that addresses all four areas of STEM learning.

Because of his exemplary and impressive teaching portfolio and his outstanding teaching contributions to the university, Dr. Medjahed is a very deserving recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

2018 Award Recipient, Hyejin Kim

Hyejin Kim, assistant professor of Mathematics, has transformed the undergraduate research environment in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the short span of the three-and-a-half years she has been here. So far, she has mentored more than 30 students on research projects arising in industry, as well as in applied and abstract mathematics. Her commitment to undergraduate research resulted in four prestigious Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grants funded by the Mathematical Association of America, along with additional funding from UM-Dearborn. At the beginning of 2017, UM-Dearborn was selected as one of the only 58 NSF funded Mathematics REU sites in the country. This 230K, three-year award is a huge recognition for our department and university and is the result of Dr. Kim’s and Dr. Zeytuncu’s efforts.  

Because of her, “outstanding level of persistence and dedication in guiding students through research beyond the classroom, semesters, and years”, Dr. Kim’s students have published in refereed journals, presented at top Mathematics meetings, found a passion for research and gone on to graduate school or other rewarding careers.

Dr. Kim is always available to her students, irrespective of office hours. Her help goes beyond any expectation. As a general rule, Dr. Kim spends countless hours helping students pick out future academic programs, find GRE testing sites, apply for travel support, register for conferences, print their posters, submit their papers, and reply to journal referees. She organizes out-of-campus activities for students, drives them to nearby conferences, reserves their hotels and books their flights. A couple of years ago, when a colleague in charge of the actuarial program retired, she took over his responsibilities and then some, of mentoring students for the actuarial exams, spending 5-6 hours a day for weeks over the summer. All this Dr. Kim does quietly, without expecting any recognition, so only a few faculty members are aware of her efforts.

Besides undergraduate research, Dr. Kim’s lectures are beautifully presented. Echoing a sentiment shared by many students, one student writes of Dr. Kim,  “You are honestly the best teacher I have ever had . . . I am hoping that I would be able to take all of the classes that you teach. You explain very well, show many examples and also give us problems to do. The fact that you are willing to explain it in many different methods is amazing and there should be more math teachers like you.”

Dr. Kim is a teacher, mentor, advisor, counselor, researcher and friend, all wrapped in a single amazing human being. Dr. Kim’s impact has had a lasting impact on the campus. The University of Michigan-Dearborn Salutes Dr. Kim and proudly presents to her the Distinguished Teaching Award.

2017 Award Recipient, Emily Matthews-Luxon

Dr. Emily Matthews-Luxon joined the political science faculty in 2013 to teach courses in comparative and environmental politics and policy.  Since arriving at UM-Dearborn, she has developed a new course on Food Politics and Policy and resurrected Comparative Environmental Policy, and both courses have increased their enrollments each time she has offered them. As one colleague writes, in her classes, Dr. Luxon “perfectly interweaves various teaching methods in ways that maximize student learning,” by smoothly “pivoting from a teacher-centered learning environment to a student-centered one.” Her classes utilize multiple modalities to implement the material and engage the student. For example, she often combines traditional lectures with illustrative multimedia and active learning techniques, like mini-simulations, small-group discussions, think-pair-shares, and self-reflections. Dr. Luxon is committed to education above and beyond the field of political science. Her classes are interdisciplinary and they draw freely from other academic sources to connect to students and make the material relatable to their lives. In response, students find Dr. Luxon “deeply committed to student development and success,” a goal which is helped immensely by her enthusiasm, her “compassionate demeanor,” her “approachability,” her “ability to make knowledge accessible to her students,” and her creation of a classroom environment that is “highly participatory, as she respects and encourages student questions.” Dr. Luxon’s passion towards education for the value and privilege of what it means to be educated is contagious. In her course evaluations, many students have credited her for instilling a joy of learning, even among those initially skeptical that politics can be interesting: she “made a lasting impact on my sense of intellectual curiosity outside the classroom”; she helps students “set up a mindset for learning on their own”; she “makes you passionate about learning the subject”; and she helps them “feel that I can apply concepts learned in this course to my personal life.” Though her teaching evaluations have been very high since she joined the UM-Dearborn faculty, Dr. Luxon has actively participated in teaching development programs on campus, to learn new and better techniques for teaching.  She deeply believes that just as all students can improve their skills and knowledge, so can teachers, and she tries to incorporate new pedagogical practices each semester to help her students learn more effectively and enjoyably. She takes these lessons learned beyond her own classrooms through her teaching-related service work, particularly around assessment. Dr. Luxon has—as another political science colleague noted—“reinvigorated discussions of pedagogy in our discipline” and turned the implementation of new assessment procedures “into an opportunity for us to get together as teachers who want to connect with students, understand better how they are doing and how we can help them, and learn from each other’s experiences.”  It is this collaborative, inclusive, and constantly evolving approach to education that characterizes Dr. Emily Matthews-Luxon as a valuable and distinguished teacher at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

2017 Award Recipient, Brian Green

Dr. Green transforms the classroom experience. Many collegiate classes center around a PowerPoint presentation; however, critical thinking, discussions, and real-world examples serve as the focal points of Dr. Green’s classes. Thus, lectures are transformed into dialogues where students are free to challenge the status quo and ask, “why is a certain audit procedure done this way? Is there a more efficient way of doing so?” In the classroom, Dr. Green uniquely challenges yet encourages students. He blends humor into his lectures while still keeping everyone focused. Having worked as a consultant and owned his own CPA firm, Dr. Green calls upon his experiences in the field in order to prepare students for their careers. He has also succeeded at the difficult task of teaching an array of courses during his time at UM-Dearborn, bringing the same passion and enthusiasm to each one.

When class is finished, Dr. Green does not stop supporting students. For many students, he has been instrumental in interview preparation.  Whether for an internship in public accounting or a full-time corporate position, Dr. Green will run students through potential interview questions along with giving tips for personal conduct. Other students go to him with questions preparing for the CPA exam or for figuring out their future career path, even if it isn’t in accounting. His patience and encouragement for all students is admirable. Student athletes, transfer students, and students with unique situations remark about how understanding and accommodating he is with coursework. Student organization leaders also benefit from Dr. Green’s assistance, whether it be with finding guest speakers or talking through the organization’s strategy.

The Executive Speaker Series has been an incredible opportunity for students all across campus. Dr. Green organizes and runs each event, which includes choosing the topic, lining up industry leaders as speakers, and moderating the event. The speakers come from companies such as Google, Ford, and IBM. Dr. Green enables students to not only learn about economic and industry trends, but also network with the panelists from these companies. In addition to organizing the Speaker Series, Dr. Green is also a distinguished and published researcher. This helps improve not only the accounting and teaching fields, but also our University.

With regards to the Executive Speaker Series and his work with students outside the classroom, one student remarked “this separates Dr. Green from other professors because it shows that he wants to provide additional ways for students to be successful”. Because of his excellent teaching ability, commitment to students, and outstanding research, Dr. Green is a very deserving recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award in the Tenured Category.

2020 Award Recipient, Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Social Sciences in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (CASL), is a recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award.

2020 Award Recipient, Armagan Bayram

Armagan Bayram, Ph.D.,  assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE) in the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), is a recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Back to top of page