Jody Koenig Kellas, a professor in the Department of Communication Studies, is a 2020 recipient of an Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award. The OTICA is one of the President's Excellence Awards, which recognizes faculty whose work has had a significant impact on students, the university, and the state. It is the university system's most prestigious faculty award for teaching, research and engagement.
Kellas' teaching is guided by the philosophy that the quality of a person's communication is linked to the quality of their life. She works to help students become tolerant, mindful, discerning and compassionate communicators in an increasingly complex and global world. Kellas uses one-on-one interviews, lectures and discussions, active applications of material, and other strategies in her courses to enhance students' learning. She asks for feedback mid-semester so she can make changes to improve her students' experience, reflecting the link between the quality of teaching and the quality of learning. She also redesigns courses every time she teaches them, incorporating student input and her own assessments to continually improve teaching and learning.
Kellas has made a significant impact on her department's curriculum, having designed a dozen undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She has provided particular leadership in the area of health communications, which has grown more popular during her tenure.
Kellas' evaluation scores from students are exceptionally high, with many commenting that she is the "best professor" they've had or that her courses were "life-changing."
"The University of Nebraska exists to transform lives and communities," University of Nebraska President Ted Carter said in a statement. "Our faculty, who are among the best in the world at what they do, carry out that mission every day in classrooms, labs and fields across our state. It's an honor to serve among such talented and dedicated colleagues and to celebrate their work and impact. I thank these faculty for all they do for our 51,000 students and people in our state and around the world."
Award recipients are selected by a system-wide committee of faculty members and, in the case of the engagement award, community members. They will be honored at a luncheon hosted by Carter this spring.