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UIndy Announces 2023 Teacher of the Year Winner and Nominees

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The University of Indianapolis is pleased to announce this year’s Teacher of the Year recipient as Gregory Shufeldt, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of History and Political Science in the Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Shufeldt intentionally fosters a classroom that creates a community. His approach is both engaging and thought-provoking for his students as he develops and strengthens student understanding through methodologies such as debates and student- led presentations. As one student noted, “Utilizing a combination of academic journals, textbooks, and student-led discussions, Dr. Shufeldt clearly wants his students to leave the classroom with an understanding of whatever that material may be; if they don’t, he will go out of his way to do anything he can to help his students reach that understanding.”

Dr. Shufeldt uses material ahead of time to prepare his students and allow them to come to class where they lead the narrative and can apply, discuss, and question with one another to help them gain a better understanding. Dr. Shufeldt cultivates an exciting class with students through lecture, debate, and discussion; all methods that help them interrogate the material. He balances preparation of material with flexibility to accommodate student questions, making it naturally engaging. He is very enthusiastic and focused on assisting students to make connections in the classroom.

A political science course could be highly divisive, but a central component of his teaching philosophy is challenging students’ beliefs to enrich their own perspective. He notes, “I stress to my students that I have no interest in indoctrination or persuasion, but I do encourage my students to gain a fuller understanding and respect for multiple points of view.” Dr. Shufeldt strives to ensure that students not only have an understanding of basic fundamental concepts of government and American Politics but empower them to become better citizens.

Balancing skillful preparation and thought with some comfort with chaos, Dr. Shufeldt understands the risk of giving up control in the classroom but also recognizes the value to students in having that control. He encourages student engagement and aims to challenge their paradigms, welcoming the unexpected that requires him to quickly strategize but that enables more meaningful and organic student learning. His intentionality is evident throughout each lesson and in his mentorship of students. As one of his former students reflects, “In Dr. Shufeldt’s classroom, all ideas are welcome, and all opinions are held to the same level of respect.”

It is with great pride that the University of Indianapolis honors the inspiring and engaging Dr. Gregory Shufeldt, recognizing him as the 2023 University of Indianapolis Teacher of the Year.

2023 UIndy Teacher of the Year Nominees
2023 Teacher of the Year Award Nominees

There were many deserving nominees for Teacher of the Year this year. You can see those additional nominees below and help us recognize their positive contributions to the University and its students:

Rupam Das, PhD

Assistant Professor of Physics

The goal for Professor Rupam Das in teaching is not simply to teach students physics but, rather, to have them fall in love with physics. Dr. Das’ “intuitive intelligence” teaching method provides a deeper understanding of how the principles of Physics can be appreciated not just in the classroom, but in everything students do. He believes learning should change the way people experience life. As a student noted about Dr. Das, “When teaching a new concept, Dr. Das always manages to explain it as a part of the majesty of the world around us.” Dr. Das conveyed his passion for physics by drawing students in with challenges just hard enough to make them work but accessible enough to engage. He regularly connected the content to real-life examples and utilized a variety of techniques to keep the students’ interest and build on previous material throughout the class. One student described Dr. Das as a “professor who inspires students to learn inside and beyond the classroom, helps you understand what they are teaching, and clearly shows how much they love teaching.”

Barney Haney, PhD

Associate Professor of English

Dr. Barney Haney practices what he teaches. He reads and writes fiction daily and shares his writing with his students. Not only does he teach students how to improve their writing and reading skills, he also deepens their understanding of literature, and fosters their ability to connect to other writers. His passion for teaching creates trust such that students seek his help in the most challenging situations outside the classroom. As a former student noted: “The care Professor Haney has for all of his students is remarkable. One student shared: “I’ve never had an educator show me the level of care and attention he gives to every student.” From another student: “I found myself taking classes that I knew he’d be teaching because I knew those were the courses where my confidence as a writer and student would grow.” Dr. Haney’s dedication and scholarship emanate through his enthusiasm and passion. He is a professor who can create change and invigorate emerging writers.

Becky Johnson, PT, DPT

Assistant Professor of Practice, Physical Therapy

Dr. Becky Johnson is passionate about providing high quality and evidence based clinical care in physical therapy. She loves how with teaching you can reach more than just one patient—you are reaching all of the patients her students will treat as well. She particularly enjoys making learning an active process. She has been described as “an inspiration,” “a gifted clinician,” and “captivating” by students. Her door is always open, both literally and metaphorically. Described by one student, it is her combination of brilliance and compassion which will contribute to the future of physical therapy as a whole. Dr. Johnson has a tremendous amount of knowledge and clearly enjoys sharing that with her students. She challenges her students with high expectations and her goal of making them the best physical therapists they can be upon graduation.

Katrina M. Reinhardt, MA

Assistant Professor, Education

In describing her philosophy of teaching, Professor Kate Reinhardt indicates that she wants students to have active experiences that lead to their learning, therefore, she puts students at the center of her classroom. She gives them voice and choice in their assignments. One student described “her championing of diversity and inclusion that demonstrates the immense care she has for guiding future educators to becoming culturally responsive educators.” Outside of teaching, she serves as advisor to an incredibly active RSO. Her mentorship has also led her to repeatedly offer undergraduate research to students and connected them with conferences. According to one student, she is an exceptional educator, mentor, and motivator both in and out of the classroom. Her thoughtfulness in preparing for a lesson, considering each student and each detail is truly outstanding.

James Russell, EdD

Professor of Practice, Business

Dr. James Russell describes himself as an “edutainer” and he captivates students in the classroom as he teaches them through engaging approaches. He combines education and enjoyment, critical thinking and problem-solving to classroom experiences, working to make material as interactive as possible. Students have commented on the benefits his experience in the field brings him and how his real-world experience makes the learning environment particularly worthwhile. The open dialogue Dr. Russell encourages in the classroom allows students to present and defend arguments to distinct problems in challenging case studies. Dr. Russell’s attitude, methods, and exercises encourage students to learn from interest instead of learning for a grade through practical application, simulating real life scenarios, and expertise.

Laura Santurri, PhD, MPH, CPH

Associate Professor, Health Science

According to one of her students, Dr. Laura Santurri teaches with great vision and purpose, clearly aligning course resources and assignments with curricular objectives and programmatic outcomes. Her intention and thoughtfulness are evident in how she approaches her lessons and with a deep knowledge of the material and a passion for her students. Although Dr. Santurri has high expectations of her students, she leads with a kind, supportive heart. Her courses are organized, transparent, and meaningful, which is extremely helpful in an online distance education program. She is always available, knowledgeable, and incredibly kind. As an online educator, Dr. Santurri strives to role model best practices for online teaching.

Najmus Saqib, PhD

Assistant Professor, Engineering

Dr. Najmus Saqib is a very enthusiastic and engaging professor utilizing various instructional methods to inspire students. He creates a very relaxed, interactive classroom environment, always encouraging students to participate in problem-solving and relevant discussions. Dr. Saqib uses creative methods in his class to engage students in the basics of mechanical engineering. He both guides the students by walking through the equations and promoting their independent thinking to understand the application of the work. Students refer to Dr. Saqib as the best mechanical engineering teacher in the engineering building. Dr. Saqib looks beyond courses and GPAs to understand the goals and ambitions of students. When asked what he hopes his students take from his classes, he said, “That I really care about their learning and how they will apply what they learn.”

Jane Toon, PhD

Associate Professor, Nursing

Dr. Jane Toon exhibits incredible knowledge and preparation which makes her class very active and engaging. Future nurses benefit from her obvious passion for the material and are fortunate to have her thoughtfully organized and intentional teaching practices. Dr. Toon is not only an expert in the realm of nursing, but also in the way she is able to educate and engage her students. As one student noted, “She has always been an instructor I can easily speak with, has made herself available to her students that may need extra help and/or encouragement, she always brings a great sense of optimism, and has an infectious good mood, in class or just passing someone in the hallway to catch-up or just saying hello.” She takes learning to a whole new level as she integrates learning activities into her classroom that hold real-world relevance, application, and rigor in the highest regard.

Jordan Waldron, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychology

Dr. Jordan Waldron is very enthusiastic and engaging in the classroom! She blends student engagement and lecture to help students apply the concepts in psychology that she describes. Her enthusiasm for the material and getting to know her students clearly drives her energy in the classroom. Dr. Waldron is a personable professor who makes a great effort to try and establish relationships with her students. As one of her students noted, “She is clearly passionate about teaching the next generation of psychologists.” Her knowledge about the discipline and use of real-world scenarios make her teaching effective and exciting.

Elizabeth Ziff, PhD

Assistant Professor, Sociology

Dr. Elizabeth Ziff is an astounding educator who relates to her students well, while bringing real-world relevant content into the classroom. As one of her students noted, “Academically, she is such an effective professor because of the balance she strikes between having valuable experience in her field and having a heart for both teaching and learning from her students.” Her teaching strategies allow students to learn through an active dialogue of discussions and questions, through which they are able to swiftly connect new content with previous content. Dr. Ziff is committed to cultivate in her students the ability to make positive changes in the world and to foster their sense of agency despite the heaviness of the topics regularly addressed in her class. Her positive attitude and enthusiasm is contagious.