Campus News

‘Great Teacher’ David McNear: First-gen College Graduate Connects With Students

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 23, 2020) — Six of the University of Kentucky’s passionate and accomplished educators were recently surprised by student nominators and the UK Alumni Association as 2020 "Great Teachers."

David McNear is one of this year’s Great Teacher Award recipients.

McNear is an associate professor of rhizosphere science in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Although he's the professor in the classroom, McNear says he learns just as much from his students as they do from him.

“My students have taught me to be patient, to be patient with them, with time and their schedules. It’s a very different student body than it was, and they have many more things that are pulling them in different directions,” McNear said. “I try to be as accommodating to those differences in schedules and backgrounds as I can be. So certainly, that involves a lot of patience and understanding.”

The UK Alumni Association 2020 Great Teacher Award was recently bestowed upon six University of Kentucky educators. Initiated in 1961, UK’s Great Teacher Award is the longest-running UK award recognizing teaching. In order to receive the award, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selection. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and stipend.

In the coming weeks, UKNow will share more videos featuring this year’s Great Teacher Award winners.

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David McNear in greenhouse with white lab coat
Professor David McNear in lab holding experiment
David McNear (right) with colleague (left) inside greenhouse
David McNear at computer in lab

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.