Rena Kirkland, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, and professor Jeff Tucker, adjunct professor of counselor education, received the 2021 – 2022 Adams State University Presidential Teaching Awards.

“Teaching is a privilege,” said Kirkland. “First, I benefit from learning from my students, and second, I have an opportunity to shape young adults. My goal is to help teach students habits of excellence that they will apply to all areas of their life.”

Tucker believes students learn best when they know that their teacher cares for them and wants to see them succeed. “They appreciate seeing the humanity of their teachers. I consider meaning-making to be fundamental to quality education. Students want to know why what they are learning should matter to them.”

Kirkland received the award for teaching undergraduate students and Tucker for graduate level courses. Students nominated faculty in the fall. An all-faculty committee then reviewed those nominations to select the semi-finalists, and Associated Students & Faculty organized a student committee which reviewed teaching evaluations submitted by the semi-finalists to select the winners and honorable mentions.

Adams State faculty and staff are big pluses for the school, Tucker and Kirkland both said.  They also gave credit to other educators in their departments. “There are so many passionate, talented, and dedicated educators at Adams State. I don’t feel any more deserving of a teaching recognition than so many of my colleagues,” Kirkland said.

Tucker agreed. His colleague, Blaine Reilly, Ph.D., clinical professor of counselor education received an honorable mention for graduate professors. “He’s a phenomenal educator and deserves every last bit of recognition he can receive,” said Tucker.

Kirkland and Tucker will each receive $1,500. Honorable mention for undergraduate teaching went to Eugene Schilling, professor of art. Semi-finalists for the awards included: Sheryl Abeyta, assistant professor of accounting; Liz Thomas Hensley, Ph.D., professor of business; Heidi Schneider, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology; Cheri Meder, Ph.D., professor of counselor education; Nick Saenz, Ph.D., professor of history; and Yusri Zaro, assistant professor of business.