David Vail recognized with first Excellence in Teaching General Studies Award

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney has named associate professor of history David Vail as the inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Teaching General Studies Award.

The award is presented by the UNK General Studies Council and given to a faculty member in recognition of outstanding dedication to teaching general studies courses and helping students accomplish their academic and career goals.

Vail is credited for motivating students to engage in undergraduate research, community service and social involvement. His teaching range is extensive, covering subjects such as the History of Science and Medicine, American History and the History of Global Public Health, as well as numerous graduate classes.

A first-generation faculty member and part of UNK’s First-Gen Leadership Team, Vail is deeply invested in the success of first-generation students, providing necessary support and mentorship. Additionally, he serves on the board of Humanities Nebraska and assists with programming for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Great Plains Studies.

“Dr. Vail brings passion to his classroom, where he helps students see beyond what is covered in the course material to gain an appreciation for many different fields of study,” said Greg Brown, director of general studies. “Dr. Vail is also extremely student-centered, helping his students to feel not only welcome but wanted in the class.”

All nominations for the award came from students, and a selection committee made up of students picked the winner.

“Dr. Vail is one of those teachers who makes learning fun. He brings a very creative energy to his classroom. He is always there to answer our questions and make us feel heard,” UNK student Miranda Niemeyer said in her nomination video.

UNK student Katie Cornelio said Vail has made a profound difference in her life.

“The best educators in this world don’t stop educating their students just inside the classroom. They push for an external influence. Dr. Vail has inspired me to do undergrad research,” said Cornelio. “Dr. Vail calls his students colleagues, and that has a very powerful meaning. He makes his students feel as if they truly belong in the classroom and that we are working together toward a future goal.”