Honoring Great Teachers

photo of Great Teachers on floor at Rupp
The 2019 Great Teachers are recognized on the floor at Rupp Arena.

Great teaching is the hallmark of a great institution.

We are blessed at the University of Kentucky to have an abundance of inspiring, dedicated and deeply talented teachers – teachers who embody the word great. We also are blessed to have an Alumni Association, which for decades has honored and recognized great teaching.

The recipients of the UK Alumni Association 2019 Great Teacher Award were honored with a special dinner and recognition on the floor of Rupp Arena earlier this month. They included:

  • Charles Hazle Jr., College of Health Sciences, Department of Physical Therapy;
  • Gregory Luhan, College of Design, School of Architecture;
  • Margaret Rintamaa, College of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction;
  • Melvin Coffee, College of Communication and Information, School of Journalism and Media;
  • Michael D. Toland, College of Education, Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology; and
  • Wendy Liu, Gatton College of Business and Economics, Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods.

While all of the individuals have different backgrounds and experiences, they share a common motivation to help students succeed beyond their time at the University of Kentucky.

When I think about the great teachers I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter in my life, I’m reminded of Frank X Walker’s poem commissioned for UK’s 150th anniversary, a stanza of which is built into the bridge that leads, fittingly, to the entrance of the Gatton Student Center.

The poem, Seedtime for the Commonwealth, reflects on our purpose as the University of Kentucky, and more importantly, as the University for Kentucky.

He writes, “We have planted thoughts and seedlings in our disparate fields, fertilized results that served and fed and healed the minds and bodies of all in our charge.”

Great universities are founded upon great teaching.

Remarkable institutions are built upon a promise to plant thoughts and seedlings in the minds of students…to feed and guide them as they grow.

And we know that a well-educated citizenry is essential for the future of our state.

States with college graduation rates above the national average have higher per capita incomes and generally better health statistics and outcomes. More students crossing our Commencement stage translate to more Kentuckians leaving our campus with the preparation to join the workforce, support their families and contribute to the local economy.

But education, as we all know, does more than prepare us for an occupation. It prepares us for a life—or as President Capilouto often says, “a life of meaning and purpose.”

We are in the business of preparing young people for life.

And there is no doubt that great teachers—those recognized this month, and those across our campus—increase the number of students walking across that commencement stage. Our teachers are on the front lines of student success.

They prepare our students to build brighter futures, not only as titans of business, but as volunteers, as school board members, as neighbors.

Join me in thanking our outstanding faculty for everything they do.