By Jeff Willadsen, WSU Academic Outreach and Innovation
Jack McNassar, a Washington State University Global Campus anthropology instructor, is the winner of the 2019-20 Excellence in Online Teaching Award. The student-nominated annual award is sponsored by Academic Outreach & Innovation.
The award, now in its fourth year, seeks to acknowledge and reward WSU faculty members teaching on Global Campus who employ best practices to engage, inspire, support, and show care for students in an online environment. He will receive $3,000 in faculty development funds and a trophy in recognition of his win.
“Professor McNassar continually inspired me and the other students in the course,” said Markayla Thornhill in her nomination of McNassar. “He is open for questions, and he always responds in such a kind and caring way … his encouraging words made everyone want to be a better student and do their best work.”
McNassar earned his doctorate in Anthropology from WSU in 2016 and has been teaching online through WSU Global Campus for five years.
Andrea Mora-Tice, another student who nominated McNassar, said that his passionate instruction on Native American history helped her connect more deeply to the subject matter and has inspired her to visit relevant locations around the world.
“His assignments have helped engage me further with the location I am in the world,” said Mora-Tice, who has travelled to several countries while earning her Anthropology degree online. “I now have plans to travel to Palenque (in southern Mexico) and Tikal (in Guatemala) to study with my own eyes the Maya Civilization and the famous Maya Code.”
McNassar was one of 36 online instructors nominated for the award. AOI received a total of 82 nominations from students.
“This is a great honor and I very much appreciate the students’ enthusiasm and engagement in our course experiences together,” said McNassar. “For students to take the time and make the effort to nominate faculty members for this award is a great gesture and example of the sense of community and commitment to one another that so many of us share at WSU.”
According to McNassar, teaching has been a lifelong passion which he has pursued, in various capacities, since 1993.
“Over the years, I have instructed students of all ages and ability levels and in many fields, and I have found teaching to be a passion and ultimately a very rewarding undertaking,” he said. “Each experience and group of students has been unique, and I try to borrow from and build on each experience to inform the next.”
Rebecca Van de Vord, assistant vice president of AOI, acted as chair of the 12-member committee that reviewed student nominations and selected McNassar as the winner.
“As we read through each nomination for all these outstanding faculty members, it was amazing to witness the lasting and positive ways they have impacted the lives of their students,” said Van de Vord. “Even though they are teaching at a distance, these instructors demonstrate the ability to pass on their passion, enthusiasm, and expertise in a way that changes people’s lives. That is an incredibly valuable skill, and it deserves our recognition.”