Established by the Faculty Experience Committee in 2020, the Faculty Impact Award recognizes members of the Post University faculty that reach beyond the standard expectations for online and main campus instructors. These faculty members are a true testament to our University values and make it personal by forging a strong connection and relationship with their students, providing outstanding educational guidance based on field expertise, and inspiring students to become the best version of themselves.
No one embodies this more than our first inaugural recipient of the Faculty Impact Award, Associate Professor Erika Levander, who has been teaching math since 2011 at the University. She has been doing everything she can for her students to see them succeed.
“I have taught at least one class every term for the past 9 years. I have also taught in the public education sector for almost 20 years. I have taught thousands and thousands of students at a variety of ages. I believe I can speak for most educators when I say that what means the most, why we do what we do, is to have a positive impact on students. When I received an email from the Math Department Program Managers saying that I was the first recipient of the Post University Faculty Impact Award, I felt so honored and touched. Knowing that I was nominated by my students makes it even more meaningful because, to me, that is what teaching is all about. I have been so blessed to work for Post and meet so many wonderful students from all over the country. In the words of William James – “The greatest use of a life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” I am looking forward to many more years doing just that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The Term 4 Faculty Impact Award Recipient is Associate Faculty Heather Riffle, who teaches computer information classes, specifically, the intro to computing course. Riffle demonstrates the epitome of impactful teaching. Though her teaching profession began twenty years ago, she only recently started teaching at Post in May of 2020.
In a brief timeframe, Riffle has won the hearts of many students, exemplifying that length of time does not generate an impact. Rather, impact is created from the depth of care given to the relationships with each individual student. Because Riffle teaches an introductory course to freshmen, her level of impact becomes significantly more vital. Seizing the attention and engagement of students at the beginning of their college experience is an imperative step towards each student’s educational success.
“Students also come to the classroom with their own personal life, and work events that play into their daily interactions,” said Riffle. “As an instructor, I need to be encouraging and keep the students motivated to continue on no matter what life has thrown at them!”
Like most of our online instructors, Riffle teaches individuals of various ages. Some students recently graduated high school while others are full-time working spouses with children. Riffle always strives to understand the unique situation of each student, which has given them the motivation they needed to achieve in the course. It is also one of the many reasons her students nominated her for this award.
“She goes above and beyond to help students,” said Program Chair of Computer Information Systems Angela Scipio. “She is one of those instructors who is able to meet students where they are and continually guides them. She is very deserving of this award. As the Program Chair of the Computer Information Systems Department, I am able to see the impact that she makes upon her students. Congratulations to Heather!”
Post University is grateful to have exemplary instructors like Riffle cheering on our students each step of the way. At Post, it is more than teaching students, it’s supporting and guiding them.
“I want to send a special thank you to Dustin (Associate Program Chair, CIS) and Angela (Program Chair, CIS) for the opportunity to teach at Post University and to have their constant support, especially since I reside in Ohio,” said Riffle.
Riffle shares that she was surprised to earn the award having only been at Post for such a brief timeframe, but that she is beyond touched by her student nominations.
“I really just want to see my students succeed,” said Riffle. “That’s what matters.”
“I was speechless; it felt so validating,” shares Professor William Lemon when asked how it felt to receive the Faculty Impact Award.
Lemon has been an online associate faculty member in Post’s English Department since 2014. Living in San Diego and having a desire to teach online courses, Lemon did some research and was very interested in applying for a teaching position at Post.
“It seemed like a great online program, and it stood out among some other options,” said Lemon.
Lemon’s great-grandmother, who was a teacher, played a big role in raising him as a child. His mother did some teaching as well. Growing up in an environment of educators, Lemon developed the desire to follow in their path. While he was not initially aware of what subject he would be best at teaching, his passion for writing and literature became clear during some college English courses.
Currently, Lemon is redesigning Post’s creative writing course, anticipated to roll out within the next few months. Lemon shares that despite teaching in a world outside the classroom, students are often interested in meeting through Microsoft Teams or via phone call to discuss their writing. Writing, especially creatively, can be personal and vulnerable. Lemon connects with students through their writing, as well as through peer discussions and other methods of communication.
“When teaching online courses, I like being able to work with such a diverse group of people. They can be from all over the world and of all ages. It’s very eclectic,” said Lemon.
Lemon does not allow a 3,000-mile distance from campus grounds in Waterbury to detract from the personal connection he shares with his students.
The small campus environment at Post University has given our professors the opportunity to work one-on-one with students and provide ample, personal attention to those who want or need it.
Marketing Professor Michael Conard has been teaching at Post since 1985 as a part-time adjunct. In the fall of 1988, Conard became a full-time professor and has remained teaching at Post ever since. He is Post’s first main campus recipient of the Faculty Impact Award.
“The small classes made it easy to get to know the students well. I always try to find the best level and pace, so everyone learns and feels comfortable,” said Conard.
Conard is a Waterbury resident, which was his initial connection to applying for a teaching position at Post. After realizing how much he loved the classroom dynamic, Conard knew that teaching at Post would be his lifetime career. In fact, Conard shares that he had a student in his class whose mother he had also taught, instilling knowledge in generations of families.
Conard does more than teach his students; he supports them in other endeavors as well.
“I love being able to go to sporting events and get to know the students outside of the classroom,” he said.
With the student nomination and overall decision to grant Conard the Faculty Impact Award, it is clear that students are touched by Conard’s dedication to teaching and individual care that extends beyond the classroom.