Excellence in Teaching Award

Our faculty awards recognize outstanding experienced and new faculty at the graduate and undergraduate levels who demonstrate teaching excellence, as well as leadership and scholarship in their discipline.

  • Demonstrates teaching excellence in the classroom
  • Values innovation in teaching and learning
  • Shows support of student success toward retention, persistence, and completion
  • Demonstrates leadership in the classroom
  • Completed nomination form
  • A copy of the nominee's current CV, to include scholarly publications
  • Evidence of:
    • Nominee's interaction with a student (examples: assignments, feedback, discussion responses)
    • Nominee's classroom innovation, including a before/after analysis of the change 
    • How the nominee has helped a student be successful in a course or has helped retain a student
    • Nominee's support of the university mission (examples: helping others make connections, supports course development, shows compassion, flexibility or professional support)
    • A narrative or video of the nominee’s teaching philosophy. Should be no more than 250 words or two minutes in length
    • Statement of support from the nominee's Department Chair, Associate Dean, or Dean
  • Nominations may be made by faculty, staff, students, alumni, and those familiar with the nominee’s work
    • Nominees will be notified and asked to provide a narrative or video of their teaching philosophy. Should be no more than 250 words or two minutes in length
  • Top candidates in each academic school are presented to the Academic Awards Committee for review
  • The University Provost grants final approval
  • The award may, but will not necessarily, be awarded annually to one undergraduate and graduate faculty member per academic school 
  • Open to part-time and full-time faculty members
  • Award recipients will be honored during Commencement weekend, and should we have an in-person celebration, one-night accommodations and individual travel expenses to attend Commencement will be paid for by the University
  • Award recipients receive a crystal trophy
  • Award recipients are not required to attend Commencement to accept the award

Excellence in Teaching Award RecipientCynthia Gentile, J.D.

Undergraduate Recipient - Wallace E. Boston School of Business

Professor Gentile received a bachelor’s degree in both English and American Studies from Douglass College at Rutgers University. She also holds a Juris Doctorate from the Rutgers School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is a Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP). 

Professor Gentile is a past president of the Mid-Atlantic Academy of Legal Studies in Business (MAALSB) and the 2018 MAALSB Conference Chairperson. In addition, she is the Executive Editor of the Atlantic Law Journal. 

Professor Gentile has been a faculty member in the Wallace C. Boston School of Business at the University since 2015. She joined the full-time faculty in the University’s management program in 2018. 

Professor Gentile's primary instructional focus areas are employment law and labor relations, business law and business organizations, legal and business ethics, and intellectual property law. Her primary research interests are the intersections of business, law and legal pedagogy. 

Before her work in higher education, Professor Gentile was a research and training consultant for LexisNexis, a provider of information and business solutions for legal professionals. She instructed attorneys and paralegals in legal research methods. 

Professor Gentile also served as a New Jersey Superior Court judicial law clerk for the Honorable George L. Seltzer, the presiding judge for the Chancery, Atlantic and Cape May counties. Lastly, she enjoyed a multi-year stint as a freelance music critic, authoring more than 250 feature stories for regional and national publications and serving as a senior editor for Rockpile Magazine.

When she is not teaching, Professor Gentile volunteers for organizations with a dedicated history of fighting for legal equality and social justice. She also hosts a podcast with a dual focus on women business leaders and legal rights and responsibilities as related to diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace. 


Excellence in Teaching Award RecipientDr. Ronald Johnson

Graduate Recipient - Wallace E. Boston School of Business

Dr. Ron Johnson is a professor in the School of Business. He began with the University as a part-time instructor in 2008 and became a full-time professor in 2012.
Dr. Johnson is based in Tampa, Florida. His teaching and presentations have taken him to locations around the world, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Finland, and Germany. 

He has presented research at numerous academic conferences in Australia, Italy, France and various other locations. His academic discipline is organizational leadership with research interests in corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability, and mobile learning.
Dr. Johnson held numerous leadership positions in the military and spent 22 of 24 years stationed in Europe. After retirement from the Air Force, he was the Academic Dean for Central Texas College for over five years and then served as Academic Dean at another university. 

Dr. Johnson commonly brings his real-life experience into the online classroom to share with his students. His innovative classroom techniques include bimonthly Zoom meetups with students, often with University leaders as guests. 

Dr. Johnson’s "Welcome to Class" package provides students with much-needed information before entering the online classroom. This welcome package is a multi-media work, including a welcome video, a written introduction and links to his scholarly works. 
While on active duty in the Air Force, he earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Maryland. Dr. Johnson also holds a master’s degree in human relations and a doctoral degree in organizational leadership, both from the University of Oklahoma. He is also a Certified Professional Coach.
Dr. Johnson is an active member of the Academy of Management, serving as a peer reviewer for scholarly journal articles. He is also the co-executive editor of the International Journal of Open Education Resources.


Excellence in Teaching Award RecipientDr. Craig Bogar

Undergraduate Recipient - School of Health Sciences

Dr. Craig Bogar began his tenure with the University in 2011 as a part-time faculty member in sports management. In 2015, he was hired as the faculty director for the School of Health Sciences. In 2021, Dr. Bogar transitioned to full-time faculty in sports management.
Throughout his career, Dr. Bogar has served in various capacities as Dean of Student Services, athletic director, swim coach, track coach and director of recreational sports, all at the collegiate level. In 2002, he was recognized as the National Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. In 2019, Dr. Bogar was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame at Loyola University New Orleans.
Dr. Bogar resides in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He and his wife, Dr. Christine Bogar, enjoy spending time with their two grown daughters and four grandchildren. He is also an avid swimmer who works out in the community pool and enjoys the beautiful Gulf Shores beach.


Excellence in Teaching Award RecipientDr. Barbara Cliff

Graduate Recipient - School of Health Sciences

Dr. Barbara Cliff began her professional healthcare career as a registered nurse. Over time, she took on leadership positions and eventually became her hospital’s president/CEO. 

During her healthcare career, she continued to pursue higher education and also taught as an adjunct faculty member. Her goal to transition into academia as a second career eventually became a reality. 

Dr. Cliff quickly advanced to leadership roles in higher education. She served as an academic program lead for a competency-based education program and as an associate dean of health professions. Later, Dr. Cliff relinquished her leadership roles and focused on teaching. 
She brings a passion to her teaching and weaves her real-life healthcare experiences into student learning opportunities. Dr. Cliff also has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by adult students when they balance careers, family responsibilities and higher education. Her strong desire to help students achieve their goals is consistently reflected in the course evaluation comments from her students.
In addition to a bachelor's degree in nursing, Barb has a master's degree in health services administration from Central Michigan University and a master of public administration degree from Oakland University. She also holds a doctoral degree in interdisciplinary health sciences from Western Michigan University and is also a Lifetime Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (LFACHE).
Dr. Cliff joined the University in 2020 as a part-time faculty in graduate health administration and recently became a full-time faculty member in the School of Health Sciences. She values her role and the individuals she works with, admires her students, and is honored to receive this recognition.


Excellence in Teaching Award RecipientDr. Laura Culbertson

Undergraduate Recipient - School of Security and Global Studies 

Dr. Laura Culbertson has taught for 21 years. She joined the University in 2012 and is now a full-time professor in the School of Security and Global Studies, teaching courses in Middle East Studies and international relations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago and received her master’s and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. 
Dr. Culbertson was attracted to these fields of study because of her interest in traveling, languages, and different cultures, both past and present. She enjoys teaching at the University because many of her students share these passions and have first-hand experiences working or serving in different settings around the world. 

Coming from a military family, Dr. Culbertson has always admired the work it takes for veterans and active-duty servicemembers to balance school, military service, work, and family. When she's not teaching or working on research, she volunteers as an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instructor for a local adult education center in Ohio. 


Excellence in Teaching Award RecipientDr. Keith Ludwick

Graduate Recipient - School of Security and Global Studies

Dr. Keith Ludwick started with the University in August 2017 and became a full-time associate professor in the Intelligence Studies program, teaching graduate and capstone courses on professional practices, technology, and intelligence. He also serves on numerous doctoral committees as both a chairman and dissertation second reader.  

Keith strives to merge his practitioner's drive with scholarly theories to bring actionable recommendations to policymakers. In 2020, he was awarded the SSGS Faculty Membership Award. In addition to teaching at the University, Keith teaches high school history, government and economics classes at a small private school in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Keith retired from the FBI in January 2018 after serving as a Special Agent for over 22 years. He started with counterintelligence investigations in New York and St. Louis and was ultimately promoted to Supervisory Special Agent in the Operational Technology Division at Quantico, Virginia. 

He served the FBI in various capacities, including the Tactical Operations Section, and conducted special operations to support all FBI investigative programs. Keith participated in over 100 covert operations and developed numerous clandestine platforms supporting Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders. He also managed multiple technical research and development projects.  
In 2013, Keith transferred to Tampa, Florida, to assume leadership of the Tampa division’s Technical Squad. He supported all requests for digital forensic exams, implemented all specialized technical attacks and provided continuous information technology support for the FBI. 

Keith also implemented and supervised a social media analytical cell, which provided tactical, open-source intelligence for criminal, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber investigations. He has also been an officer and C-141 pilot in the U.S. Air Force with over 2,000 flight hours, including several missions supporting Operation Desert Storm.


Excellence in Teaching Award RecipientDr. Shelli Carter

Undergraduate Recipient - School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Shelli has a master’s degree education with an emphasis in instructional design and technology from Purdue University and a doctoral degree in biology with a focus on molecular biology from the University of Alabama. After completing her Ph.D., Shelli worked as an employee of a private forensic company, a consultant for the MITRE Corporation, and a research scientist, recruiter, and branch chief of a research group for a federal agency. 

Her passions include lifelong learning and making science accessible to everyone, which has led to 16 years of online and face-to-face teaching and a full-time return to higher education in 2016. Shelli joined the School of STEM in 2019 as a faculty director before transitioning to full-time professor in 2021 to focus more of her time and energy on directly impacting our University’s students.

Shelli's hobbies include running, knitting and aerial circus arts. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of a local non-profit in her hometown in southern Alabama that is focused on children's early health and well-being.


Excellence in Teaching Award RecipientDr. John Rhome

Graduate Recipient - School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Dr. Rhome, known as Dr. John to his students, has been a part-time faculty member with the University since 2011. He is an enthusiastic, hands-on, and results-oriented information technology leader and instructor. He is experienced with building, growing and motivating service-oriented teams worldwide. 
Dr. John takes great pride in mentoring others and helping them to reach their fullest potential. 
As an IT executive, he spent over 25 years leading transformation in information technology in both domestic and international venues, including the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Hungary, India, the Czech Republic, and Japan. He has led organizations engaged in manufacturing, service delivery and healthcare. 
As an instructor, Dr. John has worked hard to develop classes and mentor students and faculty. He enjoys assisting with any opportunity to improve academic excellence. Dr. John is passionate and compassionate when it comes to his students and will meet with them whenever necessary.
Dr. John finds great interest in pursuing his professional, academic and personal endeavors. One minute you might find him lecturing to a group of students or IT executives, then you may find him fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Dr. John and his wife Paulette are also very active with non-profits. They sponsor a mile on the Pinellas Trail, are active in the Daughters of Pinellas, and support veteran and underprivileged groups with their time and through Fish My Florida. 


Ms. Natascha Gast

Undergraduate Recipient and Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year Recipient - School of Arts, Humanities, and Education

Natascha Gast  joined the University’s Department of English and Literature in 2007 as an adjunct faculty member and became a full-time instructor in 2009. Natascha is the sequence lead for all American literature courses and the course lead for classes such as “American Poetry from Bradstreet to Bukowski” and “Effective Business Communication.” 

Before joining the University, she was a developmental editor of industrial trade publications and taught at the American University in Cairo, where she was also the Writing Center Coordinator. Natascha has developed materials and services as well as supervised tutors for two online writing labs. She has two bachelor’s degrees in English and philosophy from Louisiana State University and received a master’s degree in English with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Connecticut. 

Since 2014, Natascha has been an advisor for the R.E.A.D. Book Club, guiding the club from limited member participation to become a thriving organization. This student organization has achieved the highest chapter standing every year, including receiving the Outstanding Chapter of the Year Award in 2021. Natascha works closely with R.E.A.D. Book Club officers and her co-advisor. She has worked on many service projects and collaborations with other student organizations. Natascha has also helped with guest author visits, virtual field trips, presentations and monthly book discussions.

Natascha's teaching philosophy is to promote lifelong learning and success in all areas. She seeks to instill critical thinking, communication skills and digital literacy in her students through the study of writing and literature. To this end, her professional research and presentations have focused on the use of technology in course design, assignments, and discussions. 

When not teaching, reading or researching, Natascha enjoys the outdoors around her home in Colorado. She also continues to travel the world.


The deadline for the 2024 award nominations is January 26, 2024. For additional information or questions,  contact the University Awards Committee.