UK 'Great Teachers' Excel As Educators — Listeners and Mentors, Too

What makes a good teacher a great one? University of Kentucky students were eager to share their opinions about the best teacher in their lives, nominating them for one of the most esteemed awards on campus. The UK Alumni Association 2020 Great Teacher Award was recently bestowed upon six University of Kentucky educators. Initiated in 1961, UK’s Great Teacher Award is the longest-running UK award recognizing teaching. In order to receive the award, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selection. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and stipend.

Emily Cunningham, MD, associate professor in the College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was one of this year's recipients. In addition to her “vast knowledge” of obstetrics and gynecology fields, UK Family Medicine resident Alex Wade nominated Dr. Cunningham because “she is an innovator. She created multiple puzzles and patient scenarios to put students in the role of the physician, which helped to establish fundamental knowledge in a fun and engaging way. Before starting the rotation, she walks students through basic knowledge and then creates opportunities for students to teach each other. (She) sets up pop-up didactics, Socratic talks, Head-Up learning games, OB/GYN Family Feud and OB/GYN Pictionary. She has helped to develop an educational website for medical students and residents that is an encompassing location for a multitude of resources and educational videos. No professor in my academic career put as much effort into teaching and creating new models for learning as Dr. Cunningham. Her passion for treating patients and for the advancement of knowledge was infectious."

Other nominees included:

Robert Lou Hirsch   College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: Plant Pathology

David McNear   College Agriculture, Food and the Environment: Plant and Soil Sciences

Darshak Patel  Gatton College of Business and Economics: Economics

Martha Riddell   College of Public Health: Health Management and Policy

Anna V. Voskresensky   College of Arts and Sciences: Modern and Classical Languages, Literature and Culture

The UK Alumni Association is committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association, visit or call 800-269-2586.