Past Recipients of the Carl F. Wittke Award


The winners of the 2016 Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are Amy Absher, History, and Jim Sheeler, English. Professor Absher's nominator reflected that, "Professor Absher is extremely talented at facilitating class conversations that everyone can actively participate in. She never calls students "out" but calls students "in" to contribute their thoughts and questions to the class discussion for that day." Professor Sheeler's nomination said that, "He's a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who is the nicest, most humble person I've ever met. For every student trying to pursue journalism, Jim Sheeler is a godsend."

Both were honored at the 2016 Commencement exercises on May 15, during the Undergraduate Diploma Ceremony.

2016 Wittke Award Winners


The winners of the 2015 Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are Rebecca Benard, Biology, and Colin Drummond, Biomedical Engineering. Professor Benard's nominator stated, " Dr. Benard not only teaches her students anatomy, but she also teaches them how to self‐teach. If the students work with her as a learning partner then she sets them up for success in their future classes as a more engaged, purposeful and independent learner." Professor Drummond's nomination said that, "Dr. Drummond is highly engaging and cares about his students. He genuinely involves his students in interactive methods in class and is always open to feedback and suggestions."

Both will honored at the 2015 Commencement exercises on May 17, during the Undergraduate Diploma Ceremony.

2015 Wittke Award Winners


The winners of the 2014 Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are Katia Almeida, Anthropology, and Lisa Nielson, Music and SAGES. Prof. Almeida's nominator stated, "She is professional with students and wants to see them succeed in the academic standing, but she is also personal and caring. She has a heart of gold that she shares through her Brazilian culture and through her earnest desire to equip students to face the world." Prof. Nielson's nomination said that, " Dr. Nielson's investment in teaching is a testament to her personal interests her students. Particularly, in discussions she encourages us to cite our life experiences. It gives students a chance to learn about their peers on a more intimate level and provides her with an opportunity to better understand our writing."

Both were honored at the 2014 Commencement exercises on May 18 during the Undergraduate Diploma Ceremony.

2014 Wittke Award Winners


The winners of the 2013 Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are Eileen Anderson-Fye, Anthropology, and Paul Barnhart, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Prof. Anderson-Fye's nominator stated, "I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Anderson-Fye and her love for the material she teaches and genuine interest in the well-being of her students." Prof. Barnhart's nomination said that he is "the best professor I've ever had. If, at the end of the semester, I had a choice to either keep my textbook or my lecture notes, I would choose to keep my notebook."

Both will be honored at the 2013 Commencement exercises on May 19 during the Undergraduate Diploma Ceremony.

2013 Wittke Award Winners


This 2012 Wittke Award winners were Heath Demaree, Psychological Sciences, and Ramez Islambouli, Modern Languages and Literatures. Student comments about Prof. Demaree included such remarks as "Absolutely amazing at everything he does...This award was meant for him" and "Dr. D's class is one of the most memorable and challenging class that I have ever taken at Case." Ramez Islambouli was described as "a great professor that cares a great deal about his student's learning...He is very encouraging of everyone, and will certainly go out of his way to help any struggling students. He beyond a doubt deserves this award."

2012 Wittke Award Winners


The 2011 Wittke Award winners were Brian Metrovich, associate professor of Civil Engineering, andBernard Jim, SAGES Fellow. These two professors were rewarded for their teaching efforts, including the ways they adapt and tweak their teaching styles to meet student needs.

2011 Wittke Award Winners


The winners of the 2010 Carl F. Wittke Award were Frank Merat, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Rekha Srinivasan, instructor of organic chemistry. Merat has been known to modify his teaching style to continually engage his students. To keep them motivated, he created customized study problems that engage students from a variety of majors. "His teaching style really fits how we learn," says one of his nominators. "He's really patient with us, and we all respect him a lot." Merat was left stunned and speechless after learning of his Wittke Award win. "I'm still not sure what this means," he says. "It's not going to change my striving to be a better teacher."

Organic chemistry instructor Rekha Srinivasan is equally engaged in the teaching process, making it a point to speak with each of her students individually. Her No. 1 mantra is to be personally excited about what she is teaching. "Whatever I'm talking about, my eyes need to light up," she said. "Then my students are drawn into that." Her receipt of the Wittke Award has left her shocked, humbled and encouraged. "To me, it's a pat on the back that I should continue doing what I'm doing. Every year, I try to introduce something new—teach a lesson in a different way, try a different experiment rather than the standard protocol—and this gives me confidence to continue to come up with more interesting methodologies. It's important to keep it fresh—both for me and for the students."

2010 Wittke Award Winners


The winners of the 2009 Carl F. Wittke Award were Corbin Covault, associate professor of physics, and Nancy DiIulio, instructor of biology. Students say Covault's enthusiasm during teaching is hard to miss. "I tend to do different things," Covault says. "Whatever you're trying to use or convey to help students learn the information, I try to recognize the fact that there are different learning styles for different students." He loves physics and loves sharing his knowledge with others. "I have enjoyed every lecture he has taught," a nominator wrote. Other nominators pointed out Covault's sense of humor and genuine concern for his students.

Several nominators wrote about DiIulio's unique way of connecting with her students. "Professor DiIulio manages to make every lesson interesting," one nominator wrote. "She works to tie in personal stories and real-life examples into every presentation, which demonstrates her immense understanding and vast experience in her field." DiIulio, who has been at Case Western Reserve since 1999, is working on a research program that will gather data to assess teaching practices, student engagement and impacts on student learning. She is intent on making sure her material is meaningful to students. "One of the important things in helping students to learn is that the information must be relevant," she explains. "You have the technical information, and you want the students to understand that. But by being able to place it into a wider context you help them learn even more."

Corbin Covault and Nancy DiIulio


The winners of the 2008 Carl F. Wittke Award were Donald Feke, chemical engineering professor, and Richard Osborne, professor for management policy practice. Feke is a two-time recipient and also won the honor in 1995. He has spent the last three decades at the university, having been a student, teacher, and administrator. Student nominators said they particularly appreciate Feke's ability to take a difficult subject and make it understandable. "I've met a lot of frustration with my engineering classes, but that wasn't the case with Dr. Feke's class," said one of his nominators, John Zamojski. "Dr. Feke is a student-first professor who genuinely wants us to learn everything we can about the subject."

Osborne has received multiple awards throughout his 30-plus years working with graduate students, and he only began teaching undergraduates in 2006. Nicknamed "The Gorilla" by his students for his energetic teaching style and gregarious classroom presence, Osborne is dedicated to seeing his students succeed not only in the classroom but also in life. "Professor Osborne really gives it his all," said student Valbona Bushi. "He takes personal interest in all of his students and even went as far as to help me and another student for a project in another class." Osborne applies his talents outside the classroom as well, spending several years on the boards of a number of companies. He also has aided current and former students in starting or buying companies.

Donald Feke and Richard Osborne


The winners of the 2007 Carl F. Wittke Award were David Pearson, Accountancy, and Deepak Sarma, Religious Studies. Deepak Sarma's nominator was impressed with his ability to create an engaging learning environment for his students. "I was not entirely sure how "Hinduism" would be an engaging SAGES class, but it was one of the few options left when I was scheduling," his nominator writes. "But thanks to the constant energy, good humor, and pure rigorous intellectualism of Professor Sarma, it became one of my favorite classes of all time. Our written assignments were interesting, which is something that I find rarely happens; they required actual thought instead of mere research."

David Pearson's nominator offers a glimpse of Professor Pearson's passion for teaching. "Professor Pearson has had every single accounting major for the past four years (maybe a little bit longer)," his nominator writes. "He is well known (in the Business School) for his hard class(es), demanding homework, tough exams, and transparent teaching. He comes to the academic arena with a lifetime of experiences and is always open to share real life applications of what he is instructing... Everyone who has had him and goes out into the working world attests that what they learned in his classes is invaluable. The specific details might not be memorable but the skills of problem solving and attempting problems that at first look impossible is what counts."

Deepak Sarma and David Pearson


The 2006 Carl F. Wittke Award was presented to Robert Brown (Physics) and Laura Ymayo Tartakoff (Political Science). Robert Brown has been nominated so many times for the Carl F. Wittke Award for Undergraduate Teaching and the John S. Diekhoff Award for Graduate Teaching that he has lost count of how many. His nominator described him as the "epitome of what professors should be." Brown, who joined the Case faculty in 1970, won the John S. Diekhoff Award for Graduate Teaching in 2003 and the national American Association of Physics Teachers undergraduate teaching award in 2004. He was a finalist for the Robert Cherry Award from Baylor University in 2005.

For Laura Ymayo Tartakoff, adjunct associate professor of political science, the secret to good teaching consists of little more than following the golden rule. "I put myself in the place of my students, because I can still remember when I was in their place," she explains. "I also have children in college, and I think of how I would like their professors to treat them." Her nominator mentioned her ability to show other students "that learning never ends outside the classroom." She often taught that a passion for learning is invaluable. Tartakoff was a Wittke Award nominee from 2002 through 2006, as well as a nominee for the Bruce Jackson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, she received the Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award.

Robert Brown and Laura Ymayo Tartakoff

You also may view our list of winners from 1971 to 2005.