Professional News

VIDEO: Why This UK Professor's Enthusiasm is Contagious

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 1, 2018) — As the curator of the University Herbarium, Robert D. Paratley puts his passion for plants to use every day.

But his students say this passion goes beyond his research and into the classroom.

That's a key reason why they nominated Paratley, who teaches in the Natural Resources and Environmental Science program of UK's College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, for a 2018 Great Teacher Award.

A senior in natural resources and environmental science, Cecelia Tio describes her professor, Robert Paratley, as “undoubtedly one of the smartest people I have ever met. You could put this professor in the middle of woods, with no prior knowledge of the area, and he could identify almost every plant and tell you its history.” Describing an experience she had with Paratley during a group research trip to Costa Rica, Tio said, “He would take us on hikes in the rainforest and be able to identify almost every plant and tell us about them. … It’s very hard to be able to identify plants at such a level because there are hundreds of thousands of plants that live in the rainforest ecosystem.” Back in the classroom, she describes her professor as “always enthusiastic and engaging. He always answers students’ questions with the utmost respect and no question is too dumb in his class. He makes students feel like equals and individuals rather than a name on a roster.”

Watch the video above to discover why Paratley's enthusiasm means so much to his students.

Award recipients were honored at the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Recognition Dinner held in January, at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington. They were recognized during the Vanderbilt University vs. Kentucky men’s basketball game later that evening as well.

The Great Teacher Award, started in 1961, is the longest-running University of Kentucky 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 selections. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and monetary reward.

The UK Alumni Association is a membership supported organization committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association or to become a member, visit or call 1-800-269-2586.

This is a photo of Robert Paratley, who was named a "Great Teacher"
This is a photo of Robert Paratley, who was named a "Great Teacher"