Jason Blackard, PhD, director of the Office of Global Health in the College of Medicine, is the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award. The award is presented each year by the University Honors Program in recognition of exceptional devotion to student learning and innovation within the context of honors education.
Blackard, associate professor of internal medicine in the division of digestive diseases, will receive the honor at the University Honors graduation celebration April 24, 2014. He has taught honors seminars for undergraduate students in the University Honors Program since 2007.
"These seminars have been invaluable, as we have a high demand for honors courses that focus on public health and that expose students to research in the biomedical sciences, said Raj Mehta, PhD, vice provost, international affairs, and director of the university honors program.
"We have an especially strong demand for honors courses with global health components ... Dr. Blackards honors seminar offerings have allowed us to fill a critical gap, meet student demand for such courses and expose students to possibilities for their future academic pursuits, said Mehta.
"Dr. Blackard is incredibly passionate about and committed to teaching, something that has been very clear to me from the first time that I met him, said Mehta. "It is evident he has high expectations for students and wants them to succeed. He cares deeply about providing them with the intellectual challenge that they are looking for.
Student award presenters Linda Venturato and Ellie Reynolds nominated Blackard for the award and provided a window into the impact of his teaching and mentorship at UC with their comments in a nomination letter.
"Dr. Blackard has a way of intellectually stimulating those with whom he interacts, while simultaneously remaining astoundingly charismatic, down-to-earth, and open-minded, wrote Venturato, a second-year biological sciences major in the College of Arts and Sciences.
"In spring of 2013, I had the amazing opportunity to enroll in Public Health in Southern Africa, one of the several honors seminars that Dr. Blackard developed and teaches. Through this course and by other means, Dr. Blackard has been a key player in the transformation of my UC experience: he connected me to another researcher in the College of Medicine, recommended that I join GlobeMed, a UC student group that he advises and inspired me to cultivate my own passion for travel.
"As a result of his influence, I have been working with that same researcher for eight months; a month from now I will be interning with GlobeMed at UCs partner organization in Thailand; and this summer I will be exploring human rights issues as I backpack across Europe, wrote Venturato. "There is no question that Dr. Blackard expands education and research opportunities for faculty and students across the globe.
Reynolds, a College of Nursing student who will graduate this spring, took a class with Blackard, HIV/AIDS: The South African Experience, and shared her experiences in her nomination letter.
"It was my very first trip out of the country, and I could not imagine a better professor to be part of that experience! wrote Reynolds. "Jason is very passionate about the research that he does, and he inspires his students to want to be more involved in research as well. His class was not only challenging; it was also interesting. He stimulates his students to perform their own research so that his class is more interactive.
"When going on the actual trip to South Africa, Jason was insistent on giving us the full cultural experience. Getting us out of our comfort zones and making us appreciate the trip he gave us experiences related to class, and also life experience. Jason is not only an incredible teacher he is a wonderful person and friend to all he knows!