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Sept. 13, 2013
1992: Betty Bush
1993: Ben Collier
1994: Peggy Miller
1995: Pat Lucido
1996: Laura Widmer
1997: Cheryl Malm
1998: Ernest Woodruff
1999: Pat McLaughlin
2000: Terry Robertson
2001: Jim Eiswert
2002: Jody Strauch
2003: Suzanne Frucht
2004: Carla Edwards
2005: Steve Shively
2006: No award given
2007: Jason White
2008: Terry Coalter
2009: Margaret Drew
2010: Amanda Petefish-Schrag
2011: April Haberyan
2012: Carol Spradling
2013: Joe Kreizinger
Dr. Richard Toomey, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Sciences, is Northwest Missouri State University’s recipient of the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, the University announced Thursday, Sept. 12, during a ceremony recognizing its Dean’s Faculty Award winners.
The Governor’s Award is presented annually to an outstanding faculty member from each of Missouri’s four-year higher education institutions. The Northwest recipient is selected by the University’s Dean’s Council from individuals in each of Northwest’s three academic colleges who receive the Dean’s Faculty Award for Teaching. Toomey, received the Dean’s Faculty Award for Teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences and will receive the Governor’s Award during a ceremony in Jefferson City next spring.
Toomey, who joined the Northwest faculty in 1999, teaches general chemistry, physical chemistry and laboratory safety courses. He serves as advisor for the Gamma Sigma Epsilon National Chemistry Honor Society, and he is a member of the American Chemical Society and the National Science Teachers Association.
He said being nominated for the award by his peers was especially meaningful, and he takes his responsibility to help students gain knowledge and be successful seriously.
“I try to remember what it was like when I was sitting where they are and how difficult it is, even if it’s their major or especially if it’s not their major, to learn the material.” Toomey said. “I recognize that it’s my responsibility to not only teach them chemistry but to teach them how to think and how to process information and how to be better at learning, regardless of the context.”
Northwest Provost Dr. Doug Dunham noted Toomey stands out among Northwest faculty not only for his dedication to students, but his dedication to his craft. His most recent student evaluations, from fall 2012, averaged 3.975 with 4.0 being the highest mark.
Additionally, he demonstrated his dedication to the craft of teaching by attending the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) conference and workshop and then applying the lessons he learned to his classroom. He invested a large amount of time in “flipping” his classroom, a teaching strategy that involves providing traditional lecture material to students outside of class sessions. Using the strategy, Toomey and his students spend more interacting during class sessions and discussing ideas.
“The purpose of flipping the classroom is to provide all of the basic foundational knowledge to them ahead of time so that when they walk in the classroom they are challenged for 50 solid minutes to make sure they are making connections,” Toomey said.
He also employs the PollEverywhere and TopHat websites to make his classes interactive. Using the websites, Toomey posts questions that show on a screen. He then asks the students to answer the questions, using their laptops or smartphones, allowing him to receive real-time feedback about how well students understand concepts.
Recent comments from Toomey’s students include:
Toomey’s colleagues also speak positively about his interactions with students and the time he puts into course preparation. Toomey, wrote one colleague on his nomination form, “often conducts his office hours sitting with students, going over lesson materials in the C3 eatery in the center of Garrett-Strong. He does not passively sit in his office doing other work — rather he is out, visible and available to students.”
Toomey’s teaching activities extend beyond the classroom. He serves on the Student Success Task Force and co-chairs the Academic Success Sub-Committee. Toomey also has chaired the Missouri Academy Faculty Advisory Committee for six years.
Toomey earned his Bachelor of Science in chemistry as well as a Master of Science in chemistry education from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He earned a doctoral degree in physical chemistry from Brandeis University.
Recognitions such as the Governor’s Award and the University’s Dean’s Faculty Awards are important, Dunham said, because they are illustrative of Northwest faculty’s commitment to quality and academic excellence.“It’s important to recognize those who are models of our faculty’s commitment to quality and excellence in academics, and these awards are particularly meaningful because the nominations originate from their peers,” Dunham said. “The excellent work of those we honor moves the benchmark for excellence just a little bit higher each year.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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