2020 Excellence in Teaching Awards

The university is pleased to announce the following recipients of this year’s faculty teaching awards:

John W. Rowe Excellence in Teaching Award: Associate Professor Greg Reilly, Chicago-Kent College of Law

Reilly joined Chicago-Kent in 2015, first as a visiting faculty member and then in 2016 as an assistant professor. Reilly teaches Civil Procedure and Patent Law, and his classes are notably well-framed, relevant, and lively in areas that are sometimes considered dry. He has a dynamic and energetic presence in the classroom, which enables him to make even dense, difficult material come alive. He is ideally suited to teaching first-year law students because of his combination of academic rigor and empathy for students setting out on their law school journeys.

Reilly uses a variety of teaching methods to address the various learning styles of different students. He does not lecture but is noted for having an amazing ability to make the most challenging material easier to understand using the Socratic method and spirited discussion. Reilly is not only well-loved by students, but also serves as their inspiration. He stresses community and developing mentoring relationships and a peer network. He established “Reilly’s Roundtable,” in which students have the opportunity to meet with him and their peers during lunch time to simply bond.

Bauer Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award: Associate Professor Carrie Hall, Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering, Armour College of Engineering

Hall’s undergraduate teaching merited a superlative average of 4.82 out of 5 in student evaluations over the last three years, an eminently impressive accomplishment, especially given an average class size of 49 among her nine course offerings. Amazingly, in two of these classes she earned averages of 4.95 and 4.92 with 24 and 39 students responding, respectively. Just shy of 100 percent, this gave her the highest possible score. Additionally, she has supervised the research of 13 different undergraduate students, six of these in the last three years.

Board of Trustees Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award: Associate Professor Erdal Oruklu, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Armour College of Engineering

Since joining the Illinois Tech faculty in 2006, Oruklu has excelled not only in classroom instruction, but also in undergraduate curriculum and course development. Oruklu has taught ECE 100 Introduction to the Profession each academic year since 2013, always receiving strong evaluations from his students. Outside the classroom, he supervises undergraduate research on a regular basis, coordinates the annual ECE Day Poster Competition, serves as the faculty adviser for the Eta Kappa Nu (electrical engineering honor society) student group, and enthusiastically leads his department’s undergraduate program open houses and admissions events.

Michael J. Graff Teaching and Advising Innovation Award: Kiah Wah Ong, Senior Lecturer, Department of Applied Mathematics, College of Science

Ong has quickly emerged as a vital part of teaching efforts in the department since he joined Illinois Tech in the fall of 2017. He has taught almost all math service courses for first- and second-year students, including the course Preparation for Calculus, which has been historically challenging. The students in all these classes gave him extraordinarily high instructor-evaluation scores, and some called him the best teacher they have had so far. Ong has also received excellent reviews from peers, has been named as a “powerhouse” in the classroom, and has instilled his love of math into his students. Among the innovative teaching and advising achievements, Ong has developed a “Math Buddies” program to match senior math majors with beginner students to provide mentorship and advice. He has also made critical contributions in coordinating calculus offerings. Together with Aleksey Zelenberg, he has started an online bridge program for the popular Master of Data Science program to teach prerequisite math content tailored to people without the background necessary for our data science curriculum. The effort, characterized by maximizing modularity, has created a unified and cohesive online presence by standardizing the process of video creation and eliminating current barriers for content creation on a university-wide scale. With the Graff Award, Ong will continue his innovative online education at the crucial time of digital learning.

College/School Excellence in Teaching Award Winners:
This year several colleges and schools chose a teaching award winner who was subsequently considered for the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Congratulations to the following faculty college/school winners for their excellence in teaching:

Lewis College of Human Sciences: J.D. Trout, Professor and John and Mae Calamos Endowed Chair in Philosophy

School of Applied Technology: Adarsh Arora, Industry Professor and Coleman Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Stuart School of Business: Priyanka Sharma, Assistant Professor of Economics

The Michael J. Graff, University, and Bauer awards recipients receive a monetary award; all Excellence in Teaching award winners will receive plaques acknowledging their achievement.