Griffis-Kyle, Baliga tapped for ‘above and beyond’ teaching Diamond Awards
By: Norman Martin
A new award to honor innovative and above and beyond teaching, known as the Diamond Award, has been presented to Kerry Griffis-Kyle, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management and Vikram Baliga, a lecturer with Department of Plant and Soil Science. The awards program, directed by the university's Teaching Academy and the Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center, was part of a Monday (May 3) spring semester meeting. A total of 15 outstanding faculty members across campus were recognized during the program, and all will receive a Diamond Award plaque as a tribute to their work.
“Your innovative teaching has been truly amazing, providing a transformational learning experience for your students during a pandemic,” said Angela Lumpkin, chair of the Texas Tech Teaching Academy Executive Council, of Griffis-Kyle and Baliga. Their teaching eased the stress on students as shown by their attitude of ‘going the extra mile' as they helped students learn in new ways, Lumpkin said. Both made a huge difference by showing compassion and dedication to students, while sharing their expertise and being a positive example.
“I'm honored to be nominated and to receive this award,” Griffis-Kyle said following the ceremony. “This past year has been challenging for everyone, and I want to thank the TLPDC and Karissa Greathouse for all the great teaching resources and strategies they have made available which helped me, and I am sure others, navigate the unprecedented challenges we have been facing.” Greathouse is a distance education instructional technologist with Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
One of Griffis-Kyle's primary teaching goals is to facilitate students' growth to achieve their professional, academic and personal goals. Her teaching approach celebrates and integrates diversity in the classroom to create a safe and inclusive space, encouraging students to feel invested as a part of a dynamic and exciting community.
Griffis-Kyle, who joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2008, received her bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Florida, and her master's degree in forestry from Northern Arizona University. The Ohio native received her doctorate in biology is from Syracuse University. She is a member of The Wildlife Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Ecological Society of America.
Separately, Baliga noted feel that providing multiple opportunities for students to engage in a variety of ways has been essential to their continued success and mental health.
“Receiving this award really meant the world to me,” he said. “The past year has been difficult for all of us, but in many ways, it has presented a monumental challenge for our students. I remember being 19-years-old and the stress of navigating young-adulthood and college during a good time. Lockdowns and pandemics have presented an even more daunting obstacle.
“I don't know that I've done anything more than the rest our wonderful faculty who have risen to the task for our students, but I have tried my best to approach the semester with understanding and flexibility,” Baliga said. “I'll do my best in the future to represent this University well and be worthy of this award.”
Prior to joining Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in 2018, Baliga served as instructor-facilitator with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and a teaching assistant with Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science. In addition, he was a county extension agent (horticulture) with Lubbock County's Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, a consultant-farm manger with Noble Farms in Lubbock, and owner-operator with Thrive Gardens & Landscapes in Lubbock.
Baliga received his bachelor's degree in horticulture with a landscape design emphasis from Texas A&M University. His master's degree in horticulture, as well as his doctorate in plant and soil science is from Texas Tech. He is a member of the Crop Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America and the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.
CONTACT: Cindy Akers, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Programs, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Agricultural & Applied Economics
- Agricultural Education & Communications
- Animal & Food Sciences
- Landscape Architecture
- Natural Resources Management
- Plant & Soil Science
- Veterinary Science
Editor: Norman Martin
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