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Faculty members honored for teaching excellence

Faculty Mar 24, 2021
Photo illustration of two women
Photo illustration of two women

KOKOMO, Ind. — Two Indiana University Kokomo faculty members have earned recognition for excellence in teaching, with selection for IU’s Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET).

Gloria Preece, assistant professor of personal finance planning and marketing, and Niki Weller, associate professor of sociology, were among 18 IU faculty members selected for induction into the program, which is committed to promoting outstanding teaching across all campuses.

Preece said being part of FACET will provide her with support as she continues growing her skills as a teacher.

“What’s really valuable is to be connected to a network of distinguished teachers who are there to support and share best practices,” Preece said. “Ultimately, my students will benefit from my participation with FACET.”

She said she adds a different perspective to students’ experience, after a 20-year career working in the private sector in property management, before she began teaching.

“I love teaching, and I enjoy the students most of all,” Preece said. “Beyond the students, I enjoy the growth and watching and being able to observe students learning in the classroom, and how they are able to take what they learn and start applying that to their careers and professions. It’s very rewarding to be part of the transformation that happens, and to know you’ve contributed in some way.”

Preece is thankful for the support she’s received from the School of Business, including the mentorship experienced faculty offer to newer faculty.

“It’s part of our culture that we are good teachers first,” she said. “I don’t think without that support I would be where I am. My teaching has really evolved due to the support and mentoring I have received.”

Alan Krabbenhoft, dean of the School of Business, said Preece is well-deserving of the honor because of her “tremendous teaching talent” and commitment to her students.

“While an excellent teacher already, she continues to strive to hone her skills,” he said. “She is a tremendous mentor to other faculty and readily shares her knowledge with others in their efforts to become better educators.”

Weller was honored to be part of the group, which includes award-winning teachers who are leaders in their areas of expertise.

“I feel very humbled to be part of a group of individuals who have paved tremendous paths in their own curriculum development and teaching,” she said. “IU Kokomo has done a really great job of providing opportunities to become great teachers. I want to deliver on that expectation, and show I am committed to teaching, my students, and to people who are also working in this field.”

Weller became an educator after working with low-income students at a community college, and realizing how non-diverse her background had been. She believes in experiential learning as the method to offering diverse education.

“They learn more, and they experience more, when they are doing what we are talking about in the classroom,” Weller said. “It’s one thing to talk about socioeconomic inequalities in the classroom, but it’s another to create an experience, like visiting a youth prison, that show how socioeconomic factors as a child increase your risk factors growing up. When I realized how sheltered I was in my own educational background, I committed to having students participate in these types of experiences.”

Eric Bain-Selbo, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said Weller represents the high standards the School has for its teachers.

“Dr. Weller’s success as a teacher begins, as it does with any successful teacher, by putting students first,” he said. “Her commitment to student learning is manifested in multiple ways, including the use of high-impact practices, experiential learning opportunities, and being a campus leader in regard to pedagogical issues.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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