Hurst Professor receives Teaching Excellence Award

Bella Lee, Staff writer

Every year, the Teaching Excellence Award is presented to a member of the Mercyhurst staff who has displayed above and beyond work with their students and the school.

Previous recipients of the award include Dr. Alice Edwards in 2002, Dr. Joanne McGurk in 2008, Dr. Chris Magoc in 2012, Dr. Brian Ripley in 2013 and all Mercyhurst faculty members in 2020 in recognition of their hard work in the midst of the pandemic.

This year, the award was given to none other than Professor Scott McKenzie, assistant professor of geology.

McKenzie started teaching at Mercyhurst in 1987 before returning in 2000 and has been here for every semester since. He was previously nominated for the award in 2019, 2016, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009 and 2008. Dr. Leanne Roberts, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, worked with the IT department in order to arrange a timed drop-in, or “Zoom bombing” to his Physical Geology class, where the award was presented.

Roberts was joined by Dr. Jim Snyder, Dr. Heidi Hosey, Dr. Randy Clemons and other previous recipients of the award to surprise McKenzie with the award. The 32 students in Professor McKenzie’s class cheered and showed their immense pride alongside Roberts and the other faculty members.

“The most enjoyable part of being at Mercyhurst is the people!” said McKenzie. “The students and the faculty, administrators and staff, I have been fortunate to have met so many wonderful people here! The main thing I try to do is to offer Mercyhurst students the kind of class that I would have enjoyed when I was in college!”

For students and faculty alike, McKenzie earning the award was something that was long overdue.

“Professor McKenzie is a quiet, unassuming individual until he hits the stage in the classroom and laboratory—there, he is a true master,” said Roberts.

“Watching Scott teach is like watching a live science documentary. His vast knowledge in subjects like oceanography, geology, astronomy, paleontology and other earth science subjects shines through to his students. His excitement about the subject matter is contagious to everyone. His presence and confidence solicit one’s attention. He has the wonderful ability to take complex information and make it simple to learn across diverse groups of students. He will be the first to tell you that he has one of the largest meteorite collections in the United States. In fact, he brings meteorite and rock samples into the classroom and laboratory to give students an opportunity to connect with the science at hand. Students’ faces light up when they get to hold and study these rare objects. Professor McKenzie has also provided learning opportunities outside the Gates with his science displays involving dinosaurs and unique geological samples to the local community. His students love him, no matter their major,” said Roberts.

Students unanimously agree that McKenzie deserves the Teaching Excellence Award for all his hard work through the years. Congratulations, Professor McKenzie.