Five Faculty Earn Excellence in Teaching Honors

Annual awards celebrate distinguished and sustained leadership across the college and conservatory.

March 14, 2024

Communications Staff

Faculty honorees pose for a photo at the home of President Ambar.
Oberlin’s 2022-23 Excellence in Teaching honorees (from left): Jonathan Moyer, Lisa Ryno, Rumi Shammin, Lynn Powell, and Jay Ashby.
Photo credit: Scott Shaw

Five Oberlin faculty members have been recognized with Excellence in Teaching Awards for the 2022-23 academic year.

Presented annually, the awards recognize faculty in the college and conservatory who have demonstrated sustained and distinctive excellence in the classroom and beyond.

Though they approach their teaching across widely varied disciplines, the honorees are united by several key characteristics, says David Kamitsuka, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences:

“All of them are beloved and visionary teachers, they are deeply admired by their colleagues, they do a superb job connecting their area of expertise to its importance in real life, and they find great joy and meaning in the growth of their students.”

A dinner reception was held March 11 at the home of President Carmen Twillie Ambar. The honorees (pictured above at the reception) are as follows:

Jay Ashby
Associate Professor of Jazz Studies
Teacher of Jazz Composition and Trombone
Director of the Division of Jazz Studies

Jay Ashby.Dean of the Conservatory Bill Quillen praises Jay Ashby’s commitment to students, his stewardship of the Division of Jazz Studies, and his development of the Performance and Improvisation program, as well as his ongoing ties to Oberlin athletics as co-chair of the General Faculty Athletics Committee.

“Jay Ashby has played a leading role in continuing the legacy of jazz studies at Oberlin, and he works tirelessly in support of our students,” Quillen says. “He has expanded the realm of jazz studies and created opportunities not just for our jazz students, but for students across our campus.”

Jonathan Moyer
David S. Boe Associate Professor of Organ
Chair of the Organ Department

Jonathan Moyer.“Jonathan Moyer is one of the most outstanding organ performers and pedagogues in America,” Quillen says. “He stands out not only for his artistic excellence, but also for his deep-seated care for his students. He has continued Oberlin’s rich tradition of organ study and placed the students and their needs at the heart of everything he does.”

Quillen praises Moyer for his commitment to creating immersive learning experiences in organ centers across Europe and fostering career connections for his students throughout Northeast Ohio and around the world.

Lynn Powell
Emerita Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
Director of Oberlin Writers in the Schools

Lynn Powell.Kamitsuka cites Lynn Powell’s extraordinary and longstanding commitment to the Creative Writing Department and the community. For more than two decades, she provided visionary leadership to Oberlin’s Writers in the Schools program, a collaboration between the college and Oberlin public schools. “It’s truly unimaginable how much work Lynn has put into this labor of love,” Kamitsuka says of Powell, who retired in summer 2023.


Lisa Ryno
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Lisa Ryno.“What is so impressive about Lisa Ryno is her incredible efforts and success in involving students in every facet of her research,” says Kamitsuka. “No one has done more than Lisa to ensure that all students thrive.” Kamitsuka notes that Ryno spearheaded—while on sabbatical—implementation of the Chemistry Climate Survey, which was intended to assess students’ sense of belonging and engagement with the department.

Ryno’s many student collaborations are evidenced in the great number of student researchers who participate with Oberlin Undergraduate Research and present at departmental symposiums—and also in the contingent of five students who will present alongside Ryno at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology conference this month in San Antonio.

“Nothing is better than watching someone gain confidence in the lab and take ownership of their project,” Ryno says.

Md Rumi Shammin
Professor of Environmental Studies
Director of the Environmental Studies Program

Rumi Shammin.“Rumi Shammin models genuine modesty and humility as the foundation of all learning,” says Kamitsuka.

Shammin is regarded among students and fellow faculty as a master of group projects and collaborative work, including his National Science Foundation-funded project “Perspective-Taking and Systems-Thinking for Complex Problem Solving.” Shammin founded Environmental Studies’ Career Day, which offers a highly successful model for forging professional connections.

About the Excellence in Teaching Awards: Each year, College of Arts and Sciences faculty are selected for consideration through nominations presented to the College Faculty Council, which are then reviewed by a faculty committee. An award is presented in each division of the college: arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics. The conservatory dean recommends a number of conservatory faculty to the Conservatory Faculty Council for consideration, and together they review and narrow the recommendations to two recipients.

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