Four for excellence: Faculty members recognized for outstanding undergraduate teaching
MANHATTAN — Four Kansas State University faculty members are recipients of the 2022 Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.
The awardees are Ronald Brockhoff, teaching assistant professor in the Alan Levin Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering; Michael Grogan, assistant professor of architecture; Brianne Heidbreder, associate professor of political science; and Michael Krush, associate professor of marketing. Each will receive a $3,000 honorarium from Commerce Bank and the W.T. Kemper Foundation.
"Commerce Bank and the W.T. Kemper Foundation have been honored to recognize exceptional teaching at Kansas State University for more than 25 years," said Shawn Drew, market president and CEO of Commerce Bank, Manhattan. "We congratulate this year's recipients and thank them for their excellence in educating K-State students."
Brockhoff serves as the D. Craig and Dalene D. Nelson — Carl and Mary Ice Cornerstone teaching scholar in the mechanical and nuclear engineering department, a part of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering. He currently teaches Computer Applications in Mechanical Engineering, Measurement and Instrumentation Laboratory, and Applications in Mechatronics. He also has taught Elements of Nuclear Engineering, Interdisciplinary Industrial Design Projects I and Interdisciplinary Industrial Design Projects II.
Before joining the university in August 2016, Brockhoff, a K-State alumnus, worked in the industry for more than 20 years, including at Los Alamos National Laboratory and eventually formed his own successful software development firm, Stasyx Inc. He decided to step back from his company president role to give back to K-State students.
"My favorite thing about working at K-State is working with the students," Brockhoff said. "They have new and unique perspectives and help me keep current and engaged with the subject matter that I teach."
Grogan joined K-State in 2017. He has taught architectural design studios at all levels, particularly third-year studios, as well as the lecture course Structural Systems. He is the developer of and teaches the required sophomore-level lecture course Introduction to Architectural Theory, and he created a graduate-level seminar on preservation and building reuse issues. Along with teaching, Grogan serves as faculty advisor for the K-State chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students and co-faculty advisor for the college's student-produced journal Oz.
An active member in the American Institute of Architects, Grogan was the 2019 president of AIA Flint Hills and 2021 president of AIA Kansas. This involvement led to his becoming coordinator of the College of Architecture, Planning & Design's "Architecturally Speaking" lecture series. These events help engage students with regional professionals and professors in a casual setting. Grogan also involves students in research-related grants, including to help document the former St. Luke's Lutheran Church building in Manhattan for the Library of Congress' Historic American Buildings Survey and for a federal grant-sponsored survey of modernist architecture in Manhattan that he and colleague Chris Fein, assistant professor of architecture, are conducting.
"Engaging with students is what I enjoy most about teaching," Grogan said. "Specifically, with the design studio format that is central to architecture programs, I am able to work closely with 12 to 18 students each semester, often meeting with each student directly three times a week. Additionally, having opportunities to lecture to entire second- or third-year classes for a semester, as well as frequently serving on design reviews for other studios, provides a nice balance and ability to become familiar with almost all students in our program by the time they graduate."
Heidbreder teaches undergraduate courses in state politics, U.S. politics, urban politics, and gender and politics, as well as graduate courses in public personnel administration and a seminar in American government. Along with her teaching responsibilities, she has served as faculty advisor for undergraduate students' honors projects through the University Honors Program. She served as her department's undergraduate internship coordinator from 2013-2018 and was a member of the university's Truman Scholarship Nominating Committee from 2013-2020. Heidbreder also is director of graduate studies for the political science department.
Recognized previously as one of the university's top teachers, Heidbreder received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the William L. Stamey Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. Heidbreder joined K-State in 2008 after completing her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She was promoted to associate professor in 2014.
"I love the moments in class when I can tell my students are really connecting and engaging with the material, perhaps even seeing their community and world in a new way," Heidbreder said.
At the undergraduate level, Krush has primarily taught Sales Force Leadership, Marketing Strategy and Brand Marketing. He also assists the National Strategic Sales Institute with its recruitment committee for the College of Business' professional strategic selling program. In fall 2021, the committee recruited the largest incoming number of students for the program.
Along with his career in academia, Krush also has industry experience, previously serving as brand manager for a major consumer packaged foods company with brand revenues in excess of $600 million. He also has been a consultant for several startup firms. His work has been published in major journals in his field and in 2016 he and his colleagues won a best article award from the journal Industrial Marketing Management.
"I enjoy and appreciate teaching because learning is a long-term assignment," Krush said. "I'm always appreciative when I receive a random call or email from a recent alumnus who shares, 'It's just like we talked about or worked on in class.' When students build a foundation of learning and a number of skillsets during their undergraduate time at K-State and then are able to apply their skills in the marketplace, you are happy for their success."