Springfield, Ohio - Best-selling author Dan Fleisch, Wittenberg associate professor of physics, is known for doing anything necessary to help his students succeed. Two years ago, however, Fleisch took his commitment a step further – a huge step further, traveling nearly 700 miles on Christmas Day to ensure that Michel Cuhaci of Ottawa, Canada, had the right copy of Fleisch’s book for his nephew under the tree. Now the book-delivering professor who made headlines nationwide for his holiday trek is making more news, having just been named the 2010 Ohio Professor of the Year.
Sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the U.S. Professor of the Year program is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate education.
Since the program’s founding in 1981, Wittenberg has led the state among four-year institutions in the number of professors receiving the coveted distinction. Fleisch’s award brings the official count to six and again shines the spotlight on Wittenberg’s superb teaching inside the classroom and well beyond its walls.
“I’m a person for whom the life of the mind is such a driving force,” Fleisch said. “Helping others have those ‘wow’ moments is most rewarding.”
Nominated by faculty colleagues and university administrators, Fleisch has consistently sought out innovative and creative ways to connect with students. From podcasts to a one-of-a-kind course on the Roots of 21st Century Science based in the United Kingdom, Fleisch has ignited the imaginations of his students, and inspired countless alumni and friends with his passion for lifelong learning.
“I get to work with fantastic students at Wittenberg, and I want them to be engaged with the world around them,” Fleisch said.
An expert in electromagnetics and space physics, Fleisch continues to inspire students around the country and the world as author of the international bestseller A Student’s Guide to Maxwell’s Equations, published by Cambridge University Press in 2008 and already in its eighth printing. This book is now being translated into Japanese, Korean and Chinese, and Fleisch has already been contracted to write A Student’s Guide to Vectors and Tensors, slated for publication in 2011.
The co-author of Electromagnetics with Applications with the late John Kraus of The Ohio State University, Fleisch has also published technical articles in a variety of engineering and physics journals, and he has presented more than a dozen professional papers at conferences in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In 2004, Wittenberg awarded Fleisch its top faculty prize, the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching. Two years earlier, Fleisch won the Omicron Delta Kappa award for Excellence in Teaching, and he was named the Outstanding Faculty Member during the Wittenberg Greek Scholarship Awards in 2000. Additionally, Fleisch was recognized for Faculty Excellence and Innovation in 2003 and 2005 by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE).
Yet, it’s not the recognition that motivates Fleisch, but rather the intellectual engagement with students and love of teaching. Each semester, for example, he invites students from each of his classes to his home for “Quality Circle” dinners during which he asks students to help him find ways to make the class the best possible learning experience for them. Add to this his willingness to go above and beyond day or night, including renting time at a nearby ice hockey rink to help a student with an interest in the sport understand physics better, and it becomes clear why Fleisch is now the 2010 Ohio Professor of the Year.
Written By: Karen Gerboth