Otterbein Professors Receive Awards for Teaching Excellence

Posted Dec 03, 2019

Otterbein University professors are at the top of their fields and leaders in the greater academic community. Recently two Otterbein professors received awards for teaching excellence and their commitment to our students.

Associate Professor of Public Health Education and Allied Health Dr. Rob Braun was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Health Educator Award by the Ohio Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). According to SOPHE, individuals who receive the Outstanding Health Educator Award are leaders within their communities and organizations.

“Rob has been a shining light in the public health profession for some time now,” said award nominator and Otterbein alum Chris Saylor ‘16. “His leadership and mentoring should be more than enough to earn this award. But his continued contributions for the advancement of education and awareness around the social determinants of health and how they impact everyday life, merits recognition.”

In the award announcement from SOPHE, Braun is described as a leader and advocate for the field of health education and public health through his active recruitment and education at Otterbein. He has made huge contributions for the advancement of education and awareness around the social determinants of health and how they impact everyday life, creating interactive and educational tools with students to bring to life the social determinants of health via the classic board game The Game of Life.

“Otterbein University has always allowed me the opportunity to develop my research agenda and community work, which has helped make me the public health educator I am today,” said Braun. “Between my students and the passion they show for public health education, it pushes me to do better and to make sure they are prepared for our profession after graduation.   This is why I love my students and Otterbein University.”

Professor and Department Chair of Mathematics and Actuarial Science Ryan Berndt was nominated and received the University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Award, given to an alumnus of the institution. What makes this award unique is Berndt’s nominator.

Julia Carney attended Otterbein as a freshman in high school via the College Credit Plus program. She needed to take higher level math courses than her school could provide.

“A family friend who taught there at Otterbein at the time knew I was interested in math so they put me in touch with Professor Berndt the summer before my freshman year,” Carney said. “He discussed my background and helped personally plan my next few semesters along with me and my parents. I went on to take nine math classes at Otterbein, three of which were taught by him.”

Carney views Berndt as a mentor, especially during her days in high school and when she began her college search. He supported her with letters of recommendation, general advice on career and education paths and getting her in touch with other professors who could share insight about her passions. These interactions led Carney to attend the University of Chicago and then nominate Berndt for the Outstanding Educator Award.

“It’s really nice and validating to hear from your alma mater that you are doing great work that matters,” said Berndt, “but it’s even more special because it came from a former student. It’s humbling and amazing to be around such talented educators and students alike at Otterbein.”