Many students have that professor, or professors, who went above and beyond to provide an excellent learning environment for their students.
One such professor at Mercyhurst University is Brian Ripley, Ph.D., tenured professor of political science, who was recently awarded the Teaching Excellence Award.
Ripley, as well as other professors at Mercyhurst, consider teaching their number one priority when they come into work every day.
To be considered an excellent teacher is both humbling and thrilling, according to Ripley.
“I love my field, and I work to maintain current by reading a lot of the most recent work by top scholars so I can incorporate that into my presentations,” Ripley said about how he stays in top form when teaching.
This is not by far Ripley’s only experience winning an award recognizing his accomplishments in teaching. At the University of Pittsburgh, his first job out of graduate school, he was awarded the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in his third year.
“It helped me realize how important teaching is to me, personally,” said Ripley. “And it influenced me to apply for the job at Mercyhurst where I know teaching is valued so highly.”
Ripley teaches Theories of International Relations, which deals with the way that social scientists understand the dynamics of world politics. His second major is Decision Making in American Foreign Policy. In this area he teaches students about what goes into a country’s decision to use or not use military force as well as what happens when leaders do or do not listen to their political and military advisers, among other areas.
His commitment to teaching is reflected in the regard his students have for him. According to senior Alethea Gaarden, Ripley is a perfect fit to be recognized for excellence in teaching.
“Dr. Ripley is hardworking, conscientious and engaging,” said Gaarden. “He really wants to see his students succeed, so he always makes time to answer emails and check over essays.”
She noted that even when Ripley was busy, his office door was open for students to visit about class performance or just to talk over current world events. Gaarden also deeply values Ripley’s commitment to academics and presenting them in a manner that students can digest and understand.
“His lectures are always engaging and funny, but it’s obvious that he takes the material he’s teaching seriously, and he wants students to take it seriously, too,” Gaarden said.
Junior Courtney Naughton agrees.
“He poses challenging questions to make the students think as well as encouraging the students to voice their opinions,” said Naughton. “What makes him an excellent professor is the way he engages the students in his lectures and provides modern, real life examples [with which] the student can relate.”
Ripley is a professor who wants to see his students not only do well in their studies but also enjoy what they are learning, qualities of an excellent professor and a good choice for the Teaching Excellence Award.