Teaching Awards

Bauer Family Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award

Recognizes a faculty member for excellence in teaching at the undergraduate level.

Award recipients receive a  $500 award.

2023 Winner

Photo of Won-Jae Yi

Won-Jae Yi
Assistant Teaching Professor

First starting at Illinois Tech as an undergraduate laboratory supervisor and manager for computer facilities in 2017, Won-Jae Yi now serves as an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with his courses focusing on microcomputer assembly language, computer networks, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and more. For every course, Yi’s main goals are to emphasize fundamental knowledge, practice with hands-on projects, and to encourage teamwork and innovative thinking amongst his students. His colleagues assert that Yi has played a fundamental role in driving engagement in electrical engineering at Illinois Tech due to his interesting and engaging courses. Yi has been described by his students as “friendly, patient, and respectful” and is someone who “always goes the extra mile” to make sure concepts are thoroughly understood. Yi’s experiential teaching model that works to reinforce class concepts, in addition to the attention and support he gives to every one of his students, is truly exemplary.

Board of Trustees Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award

Recognizes a faculty member who has made exceptional contributions to the teaching of undergraduate students; who has generously shared time and talent with undergraduate students; and who has demonstrated special attention to the well-being of undergraduate students in and out of the classroom.

Award recipients receive a  $5,000 award.

2023 Winner

Seok Hoon Hong

Seok Hoon Hong
Associate Professor

Seok Hoon Hong was described by his students as always being “respectful, approachable, and knowledgeable,” and always making himself available to help and support his students. Hong joined Illinois Tech’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2015 and taught an Introduction to the Professions course for first-year students. Hong’s course was fundamental in providing ChBE students with a solid foundation for learning about chemical engineering. Students expressed their deep appreciation for Hong’s great use of examples and real-world applications to enhance their learning experience. Hong often used his own time to train his undergraduate students in his research laboratory to prepare them for future opportunities; he also opened it up to high school students to encourage career exploration in STEM. Hong, who passed away in February 2023 after a courageous fight with cancer, will be remembered for his deeply caring nature and his dedication to providing students with enriching learning experiences.

Michael J. Graff Award for Innovation in Teaching

The purpose of this award is to honor specific teaching and/or advising innovations. It recognizes teaching and/or advising practices that are designed to improve student learning and success. Examples of technologies that could be included in the criteria are artificial or machine intelligence, computer-assisted instruction, mobile learning, convergence, big data, online/cloud/web-based, multimedia, etc.

Innovative teaching is defined broadly and may include the use of new instructional technologies, the use of traditional technologies in creative ways, novel approaches to instruction, and new ways to engage students in the learning process.

The award is intended to recognize and disseminate teaching practices based on the:

  • Originality of the teaching strategy or how it was implemented
  • Impact on student learning and/or engagement
  • Potential to adopt the teaching strategy (or key elements thereof) within or across disciplines

Innovative advising is defined broadly and is focused on the contributions that help students define and achieve their academic or research goals.

Examples of activities to be considered include but are not limited to:

  • Advising on course selection
  • Research focus and management
  • Long-term career goals
  • Personal development

Award recipients receive a $5,000 award; a $5,000 award to the winner's academic department, which is intended to encourage innovation in teaching and advising; and $2,500 to the award winner to enable the hiring of a student assistant to enable the implementation of the award winner's innovations.

2023 Winner

Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis
Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics

Robert Ellis joined Illinois Tech in 2005, and has played a key role in implementing successful, non-traditional teaching methods across a variety of courses and projects for the past 18 years. Ellis has offered several undergraduate research opportunities to students through his Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program projects that center around utilizing data-driven activism for social and environmental justice causes. Ellis applies a “flipped” teaching style to his courses, which has subsequently encouraged more collaboration and teamwork between students. His unconventional teaching methods have not only helped students understand the curriculum better, but they have also helped students from different majors and backgrounds understand the value of diversity of skills and life experiences. Students describe Ellis as “a wonderful teacher and communicator” who always goes above and beyond to make sure they succeed.

The Center for Learning Innovation Digital Teaching Innovation Award

This award recognizes and celebrates faculty who demonstrate Illinois Tech’s commitment to its culture of innovation and excellence with digital innovation in the classroom. Using digital technology, recipients of this award provide an unparalleled inclusive student experiences that enhances student learning, promotes student engagement, builds community, and positively impacts teaching quality.

Any faculty member (full-time, part-time) who teaches or taught at least one course over the reviewing period is eligible. The course modality may be in person, hybrid, or online. The course must innovatively incorporate, use, or re-imagine digital technology including, but not limited to, proprietary technology or Open Educational Resources (OER) in such a way that demonstrably:

  • Enhances student learning
  • Promotes best practices in student engagement
  • Contributes toward an inclusive community at Illinois Tech
  • Positively impacts teaching quality

Award recipients receive a $1,500 award: $1,000 will go toward the budget to expand and improve the digital teaching innovation over the next fiscal year, and the remaining $500 is a personal cash award. Over the next academic year, the Center for Learning Innovation will promote the recipients on its website and nominees may work with the Center for Learning Innovation as a resource to disseminate best practices.

2023 Winner

M Krishna Erramilli

M. Krishna Erramilli
Professor of Marketing

For 16 years M. Krishna Erramilli has been a central figure in the Stuart School of Business. His work as a marketing professor, an associate dean, and the director of graduate business programs has contributed greatly to the success of the college and Illinois Institute of Technology. During his career at Illinois Tech, Erramilli developed Stuart’s first-ever fully online Master of Business Administration programs, including one for business professionals in China through a partnership with Beacon Education Group. He is also known for seamlessly blending in-person and online learning experiences into one course, shortening the duration of it to make it more feasible for working professionals. Erramilli is a strong believer in “learning by doing,” which is exemplified in his hands-on approach to learning as he has much of his class time toward providing real-world examples for concepts. Erramilli’s dedication to creating a dynamic learning environment that benefits every student is deeply admirable.

John W. Rowe Excellence in Teaching Award 

Recognizes a faculty member from a group that has been selected by their college or school to receive its college/school awards for excellence in teaching at either the undergraduate or graduate level.

Award recipients receive a $1,500 award.

2023 Winner

Christopher Schmidt

Christopher W. Schmidt
Professor of Law

In 2008, Christopher W. Schmidt joined Illinois Tech’s Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he has since taught a variety of courses that focus on constitutional law, legal history, and sports law. Schmidt is known for modeling what he asks of his students—being actively engaged, respectful, and open to discussion. Colleagues have praised Schmidt for his vast knowledge of constitutional law, his keen ability to provide an inclusive approach to understanding interconnected legal frameworks, and his effective communication skills. Schmidt strives to create a comfortable environment for his students where they are encouraged to be intellectually open, curious, and non-threatening when it comes to discussing concepts or topics that might be uncomfortable. Student responses to Schmidt’s courses emulate positivity as they describe how deeply Schmidt cares about the content that he teaches and his students’ success. As a professor who has one of the best student evaluation scores in the college, Schmidt indeed mirrors the qualities of excellence in teaching.

Past Winners

2022: Ian Brown, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
2021: Edoarda Corrari dell-Acqua, Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering
2020: Greg Reilly, Chicago-Kent College of Law
2019: Michael Young, Department of Psychology
2018: David Williams, Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering
2017: Kimberly Bailey, Chicago-Kent College of Law
2016: Jialing Xiang, Department of Biology
2015: Sarah Harding, Chicago-Kent College of Law
2014: Kelly Kazukauskas (Department of Psychology) and Shuwang Li (Department of Applied Mathematics)

2022: Sally Laurent-Muehleisen, Department of Physics
2021: Katherine Leight, Department of Chemistry 
2020: Erdal Uruklu, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
2019: Hemanshu Kaul (Department of Applied Mathematics) and Geoff Williamson (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering)
2018: Frank Flury, Architecture
2017: Ullica Segerstrale, Department of Social Sciences
2016: Kathryn Spink, Department of Biology

2022: Jia Wang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
2021: Hassan Shanechi, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
2020: Carrie Hall, Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering
2019: Promila Dhar, Department of Biomedical Engineering
2018: Suresh Borkar, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
2017: Mahesh Krishnamurthy, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
2016: Javad Abbasian, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
2015: Donald Chmielewski, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
2014: Matthew Spenko, Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering
2013: Liad Wagman, Stuart School of Business

2022: Mohammad Heidarinejad, Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering
2021: Adrian Walters, Chicago-Kent College of Law
2020: Kiah Ong, Department of Applied Mathematics
2019: Alan Glodowski, Department of Physics

2022: Kristina Bauer, Department of Psychology

2022: Melanie Standish, Department of Psychology

2020: Harry Smith, Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering

  • Honorable Mention: Karl Stolley, Department of Information Technology and Management

Several colleges and schools chose a teaching award winner who was subsequently considered for the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Congratulations to the following faculty college winners for their excellence in teaching in 2022:

  • Armour College of Engineering: Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Kenneth M. Tichauer
  • College of Computing: Gladwin Development Chair Assistant Professor of Computer Science Yue Duan
  • College of Architecture: Associate Teaching Professor of Architecture Leslie Johnson
  • Stuart School of Business: Associate Professor of Finance Benjamin Van Vliet