Awards for teaching were presented to three full-time faculty members at Pennsylvania College of Technology during commencement ceremonies held May 16-17 at the Community Arts Center, Williamsport.
As part of the Distinguished Teaching Awards program, Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour presented the Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher Award to Dorothy M. Mathers, associate professor of medical-surgical nursing.
Excellence in Teaching Awards were presented to Peter B. Kruppenbacher, assistant professor of building construction technology, and Kevin R. Derr, professor of legal assistant studies.
The Distinguished Teaching Awards are presented to full-time faculty at Penn College who have been nominated by their students and colleagues for excellence in instructional performance. Since the program’s inception in 1982, awards have been presented to 95 honorees (30 Master Teacher and 65 Excellence in Teaching).
Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher Award
The Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher Award – renamed in 2006 in honor of its first recipient – is the most prestigious of the college’s faculty tributes.
Mathers, of Montoursville, also received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the college in 2009. She holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice from Chatham University, a master’s degree in nursing from College Misericordia, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Eastern Washington University and an associate degree in nursing from Northampton Community College.
She has taught medical-surgical nursing full time at Penn College since 1994 and part time from 1991-94. Previously, she worked as a staff nurse at hospitals in Pennsylvania and Washington.
Her nominators said of Mathers’ attributes:
- “Helps students evaluate their thought process and preparation, and works with them to make needed changes to be successful in the future. Genuinely wants students to succeed and works hard to make sure we will be competent professionals.”
- “Makes the topics in lectures come alive.”
- “Able to challenge us in a way that makes us believe in ourselves.”
- “An effective instructor that is always fair and willing to help.”
- “She is passionate about her education, and that has helped me become more passionate about my own. It is through her example that I am planning to continue my own education and become a nursing instructor.”
Excellence in Teaching Awards
Excellence in Teaching awards are presented annually to full-time faculty members who have been nominated by their students and colleagues for excellence in instructional performance.
Kruppenbacher, of Linden, earned a bachelor’s degree in vocational-technical education from The State University of New York at Oswego and is working toward a master’s degree in educational development and strategies from Wilkes University. He received an associate degree in occupational studies, building construction from SUNY Agricultural and Technical College at Alfred.
He has taught building construction technology at Penn College since 2008. Previously, he taught in the building trades program at SUNY College of Technology at Delhi and Delaware-Chenango BOCES. He has also served in a supervisory capacity for a variety of construction firms and owned his own company.
Kruppenbacher’s nominating documentation includes these comments:
- “As kind as he can be, he is a strong-mannered man who pushes students to use their heads. He rarely settles for the bare minimum. He helps students along with projects, but will not hold their hand.”
- “A professional, through and through. He is extremely organized and communicates with anyone and everyone clearly.”
- “He is passionate about his job and the industry.”
- “He will take any amount of time out of his day to help a student figure out, comprehend or understand any problem or question he or she may have.”
- “An excellent craftsman who works hard to develop that quality in his students.”
Derr, of Williamsport, is a repeat winner of the Excellence in Teaching honor, having received it in 1992. He holds advanced degrees from Dickinson School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
He began teaching at Penn College in 1990. Previously, he served as an adjunct faculty member at several institutions and worked as an attorney in private practice.
Comments from Derr’s nominators include:
- “He is enthusiastic when it comes to teaching. He is very relatable and approachable, making the classroom environment very productive.”
- “He will stop in the middle of class if he feels that the material is not being understood, and he will not continue on until he knows his students get it.”
- “He makes sure his class is very interactive. He holds debates to make sure students are participating and are able to voice their opinions. He does not make students feel that their opinion is wrong, and he compliments the ideas that students present.”
- “I always get the most out of his classes and am able to retain the information. He is an incredible teacher.”
- “He does not treat his class as a group; he recognizes each student for his or her individual worth.”
In her commencement remarks, Gilmour praised the faculty honorees for their commitment to the teaching profession.
“Over the past century, whether at Penn College or our forerunners, teaching has been at the very center of this institution’s mission,” Gilmour said. “It’s quite simple, really: You can’t have a college without students, and learning cannot occur without those who share their knowledge.”