Six of CSU’s best educators will be honored at the 2018 Best Teacher Awards, set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center.
Selected by a committee of students, alumni, faculty and staff, this year’s group of six winners includes new and longtime teachers, a world-renowned veterinarian and even an Air Force veteran of the Gulf War.
Tickets, which include a plated dinner and dessert, are $15 for Alumni Association members, $20 for non-members and $5 for students, and available online.
Renee Harmon, Ph.D. (Ph.D. 2017)
Instructor, School of Global Environmental Sustainability
Renee Harmon teaches at SoGES and assists in the Africa Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in communication from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She completed a Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies with a specialization in Education Sciences at CSU in 2017.
Her research focuses on sustainability education and literacy, adult education, online education and nontraditional teaching and learning methods. She also developed the CSU Sustainability Literacy Assessment, of which the results are reported to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). She is an active volunteer with United Way of Weld County and Community Collective Impact Fund, and has extensive experience working with veterans and other adult learners.
“My favorite part of being in Dr. Harmon’s class was the individualized attention she gives her students to propel them forward. She is attentive to her students’ individual research interests and career pathways, and she is committed to applying her knowledge and experience to ensuring her students can succeed in those areas.”
Susan Opp, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Political Science, College of Liberal Arts
Susan Opp has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado, a master’s in public administration from Western Kentucky University and a Ph.D. in urban and public affairs from the University of Louisville.
Her teaching, research and community service activities focus on questions of local sustainability, economic development and urban affairs. Opp graduated from Fort Collins High School and has been at CSU since 2009. Her research has been widely published, and she has written three books.
“Sometimes I feel that Dr. Opp is in a class by herself. She fights against the norms in her department and in the university, trying to give her students the best of what CSU and Fort Collins have to offer. She wants her students to be engaged in the research and community that so define CSU to the world, not bunkered into the ivory towers of classical academia.”
Dean Hendrickson, D.V.M. (D.V.M. 1988)
Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons; professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Following an internship in Australia, surgical residency at Cornell University and a faculty appointment at the University of Wisconsin, Dean Hendrickson returned to his alma mater CSU in 1994.
Hendrickson’s primary clinical interests are equine wound care and minimally invasive surgery; he is known nationally and internationally for his expertise. He has published hundreds of papers on a variety of topics. In addition to his teaching and surgical excellence, he is developing eBooks that can be resources for students in their veterinary careers.
“My favorite part of being in class with Dr. Hendrickson is the humor that he injects into each lecture. As a veterinary student, I spend many hours sitting in class, taking notes on endless slide show presentations, and somehow Dr. Hendrickson makes all of that less important because what he is saying is interesting and realistic (in a way that) I can actually see myself being able to be a veterinarian myself one day.”
John Straayer, Ph.D.
Professor, Political Science, College of Liberal Arts
John Straayer is one of the most recognized faces on campus, having spent 51 years teaching in the Department of Political Science, including 16 years as department chair. He oversaw the Legislative Internship Program for 37 years, logging more than 130,000 driving miles between campus and Denver to expose more than 1,000 CSU juniors and seniors to the legislative process.
Last year, CSU honored the iconic educator with the creation of the Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership in the College of Liberal Arts, and Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a proclamation declaring April 27, 2017, as John Straayer Day. Among his protégés are U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and former Gov. Bill Ritter, founder and director of the Center for the New Energy Economy.
“Dr. Straayer is the perfect definition of an ideal professor. He is role model and mentor to so many people and an inspiration to those around him. Dr. Straayer possesses an impeccable ability to bring out the best qualities in others and highlight each student’s strengths.”
Stephanie Malin, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Sociology, adjunct assistant professor of public health (Colorado School of Public Health), College of Liberal Arts
Stephanie Malin specializes in environmental and natural resources sociology. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from Truman State University, and master’s and doctorate degrees in sociology from Utah State University.
Malin focuses on community-level outcomes of natural resource development, including the influences of environmental justice, social mobilization, poverty and the political economy of energy development. Her research and teaching focuses on how those variables intersect in rural communities across the American West and the Northeast. She works with the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Colorado Water Institute, the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis and the CSU Water Center on campus.
“Dr. Malin has demonstrated countless times that she will use her expertise in any way she can to serve CSU. More than that, though, she serves her students every day by going out of her way to ensure that we all have what we need to thrive both in her classroom and beyond. She consistently makes herself available for discussions about class material, graduate school and life in general. She has the unique characteristic of deeply caring about each and every one of her students. She is a professor who truly wants to see her students succeed.”
Frank Smith, Ph.D.
Director of graduate programs, College of Business
Frank Smith came to CSU in 2013 and has amassed a long career in teaching, business and service to his country. He has a bachelor’s in engineering from the Air Force Academy, an MBA from Chapman University and a Ph.D. in finance from Texas Tech. He is a pilot and Gulf War veteran.
Smith built a successful optics business before embarking on his teaching career. He founded the Rocky Mountain Investment Challenge at CSU and has coached his teams to three top-three finishes, and his teams have won regional titles at the CFA Global Investment Challenge.
“The best example (of what makes Smith a good teacher) I can think of is that students recommend his class to fellow students because he is that good. He brought in relevant, real-world examples, and helped us put into practice the concepts we were learning in a helpful manner. I think his approach to teaching is unprecedented. He doesn’t simply want to disseminate information, he wants you to be able to put into practice what you learn and does it all in a fun, laid-back atmosphere.”