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Dr. Kenya Taylor, chair of the Department of Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, has been awarded the university-wide 2005 Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA). The award was presented to her during ceremonies held in Lincoln this week.
“I love what I do,” Dr. Taylor said of her teaching at UNK. “I’m passionate about it. I think that excitement rubs off on my students.”
Candidates for the university-wide award are nominated from all four University of Nebraska campuses–University of Nebraska – Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska Medical Center and UNK. Recipients are announced each year in April.
This is the second award Dr. Taylor has received for teaching. In 2002, her teaching abilities earned her the UNK Pratt-Heins Award for Teaching.
“This is indicative of the respect that fellow professors at UNK have for Dr. Taylor’s performance in the classroom,” said Dr. Ed Scantling, associate dean of the College of Education. “I have worked closely with Dr. Taylor for the past five years as a member of the Coordinating Council for the College of Education. During that time, I have been amazed at her ability to balance the roles and demands of serving as department chair of a strong and vibrant department, while also teaching graduate and undergraduate courses that her students absolutely love.”
“She nurtures and encourages her students and is sensitive to their feelings,” said Dr. Laurence Hilton, a professor and chair of the graduate program for the Department of Communication Disorders. “She notices and acts on their needs for motivation, and she challenges them to make their best efforts even better.
“Her interest in her students’ lives and welfare is genuine, and remains as a continuing commitment to support them and advocate for them in their professional futures,” Dr. Hilton said.
During Dr. Taylor’s tenure at UNK, she has led grant writing efforts that have been successful in purchasing more than $126,000 worth of specialized equipment used for training students in the latest technologies available for speech and hearing, Dr. Scantling said.
Further, through Dr. Taylor’s efforts, students have published articles, delivered state and national presentations and been awarded approximately $10,000 in funding support for research activities.
“She has high expectations, is innovative in her teaching and draws the students in with creative activities that allow the student to make solid connections between course content and real world practice,” he added.
“A final quality indicator of teaching success for all of the instructors in the CDIS department is the phenomenal first-time pass rate of their students on the National Certification Exam,” Dr. Scantling said. Since 1998, the ASHA accredited program has achieved a first-time pass rate of 92 percent, which is well above the 79.8 percent national first-time pass rate.
She continues to mentor and serve as a role model for UNK graduates, and she demonstrates her commitment to professional service. She is a past president of the Nebraska Speech-Language-Hearing Association and was recently elected to serve as Legislative Councilor from Nebraska for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
“Students know that she willingly serves on many commissions and boards as an advocate for those whose quality of life is compromised by communication disorders,” Dr. Hilton concluded.