Published Friday Jun 1, 2018
Alma Hales and Mark Melichar are the recipients of this year’s Tennessee Tech Outstanding Faculty Award in Teaching. This award is presented to faculty who exemplify the high instructional standard Tennessee Tech strives for.
“Dr. Alma Hales has earned a reputation among her students as a faculty member who truly cares and who will go above and beyond to help any student who asks,” the award committee said in a statement. “She maintains a high degree of integrity, which has earned her the respect of students and fellow faculty alike.”
In her five years as a member of the College of Business faculty, Hales, an assistant professor in economics, finance and marketing, has become influential in developing and maintaining the college curriculum. She has initiated a new data-collection process for the assurance of learning in the finance program that now serves as a model for the rest of the college to improve teaching and learning outcomes.
“Receiving TTU’s Outstanding Faculty Award in Teaching is a great honor for me,” said Hales. “Helping shape students into young professionals is the most meaningful and rewarding part of my work.”
Hales willingly stepped up to cover the courses of another instructor who was unable to fulfill their duties due to a sudden illness, while also maintaining her own full course load. It is her selfless commitment to the educational excellence of the College of Business that has earned her this recognition.
“I believe learning requires the creation of connections. I aim to connect students to the course content, to other students, to me, and to the world of business,” said Hales. “I set high expectations for my students but they know that I am invested in their success. I also maintain a spirited attitude because energy in a classroom is palpable and transferable. I am passionate about my discipline (finance) and this is no secret to my students.”
Melichar’s skills in teaching are evident through his consistently high student evaluations and the speed at which his courses fill up during every registration period. He has reinvigorated the economics curriculum with the development of two new courses — economic growth and development, offered the first time last fall, and comparative economic systems which will incorporate a trip to Cuba in Spring 2019.
“Dr. Melichar’s pedagogy is innovative and fun, incorporating real-world concepts and applying them to concepts at Tennessee Tech in a way that resonates with his students,” the awards committee said in a statement. “He was also granted a QEP award for his development of a student consumer price index, which was built and is maintained by students in intermediate macroeconomics, as a Tech model of the Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.”
Melichar, an assistant professor in economics, finance and marketing, says he came to Tech five years ago to be at an institution that values quality undergraduate education but also emphasizes research, and believes Tech offers that unique blend.
“I am very honored to win the Outstanding Faculty Award in Teaching at Tennessee Tech University, as I know there are so many fantastic educators on the Tech campus,” said Melichar. “When I first started teaching, I thought about my undergraduate experience and what helped me learn, and then incorporated many of those ideas and techniques in my teaching style.”
Melichar tries to help students make a deeper connection with the content in his classes by using popular media clips containing economic themes and concepts.
“I obviously love economics and try to bring that passion into the classroom, which the students appreciate. I also illustrate to students that economics is all around them and it's not just equations and graphs,” said Melichar. “I applied to jobs across the country and found the right fit at Tennessee Tech University.”