Raczkowski honored with Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching

Raczkowski honored with Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching
One of the university's most prestigious teaching awards

Joseph Raczkowski, an assistant professor of professional practice in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Department of Entomology, has been selected as a recipient of The Ohio State University’s 2024 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. Established during the 1959-1960 academic year, it is one of the university's most prestigious teaching awards.

Raczkowski was notified of his selection by Senior Vice Provost for Academic Leadership Kay Wolf during a surprise classroom visit on March 4. Senior leadership joining the celebration included Vice President for Agricultural Administration and CFAES Dean Cathann Kress, Ohio State Alumni Association Chief of Strategy and Belonging Tina Pierce and Department of Entomology Chair and Professor James Strange.

“Faculty members like Joe Raczkowski are exemplars of the highest-quality teaching happening every day in classrooms, labs and studio spaces across each of our university’s campuses,” said Wolf. “His commitment to teaching excellence and student success is an inspiration to all.”


Senior leadership, students and family members celebrate Joe Raczkowski's Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching during a surprise classroom visit.

In several nomination letters, students shared how Raczkowski, affectionately known as Dr. Joe, consistently creates a welcoming, engaging and thought-provoking classroom environment that fosters curiosity. They added how his classroom structure advances success, and that his broad availability in and outside the classroom is evidence of his passion. In summary, one student wrote, “Dr. Raczkowski is truly the best professor I have had.”

“I don't think that enough can be said about a person's willingness to create a positive and welcoming environment for students and colleagues,” wrote Strange in his nomination. “This is something Dr. Joe excels at. He is open and warm, quick to smile and share a laugh, but also capable of having the hard conversations with his students. He can do this because he builds trust and respect early.”

With his student-first approach in all activities, Raczkowski is committed to providing a rich student experience. From a field methods course taught primarily to high schoolers every summer at Stone Laboratory, the university’s island campus on Lake Erie, to his welcoming and engaging undergraduate classes, Raczkowski makes it a point to get to know each student personally.

Committed to continually improving his teaching, Raczkowski received a CFAES Price Chair Teaching, Learning and Advising Enhancement Grant to attend a Lilly international conference on evidence-based college teaching and learning. In 2015, he received the Entomological Society of America North Central Branch Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching.

With grant support from Ohio State’s Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning, Raczkowski is collaborating with department colleagues to develop scientific literacy modules that can be woven into the curriculum throughout the department and beyond. Since 2013, he has chaired or been a member of the Department of Entomology’s curriculum committee and has also served as the advisor to the undergraduate entomology club.

A member of the Buckeye alumni family, Raczkowski earned his PhD at Ohio State in 2008 and the same year began work as a lecturer in the Department of Entomology.

“Students and alumni tell us again and again how Dr. Joe has impacted and enriched their education and their lives,” said Kress. “His commitment to our students and their success is part of the reason our college is known for its student-first philosophy. I congratulate him on receiving this very well-deserved honor.”

Cathann Kress and Kay Wolf celebrate with Joe Raczkowski during the surprise classroom visit.

Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching recipients are recognized with a $5,000 honorarium made possible by gifts from The Ohio State University Alumni Association, University Advancement and the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA). In addition, OAA awards an increase of $1,200 to each recipient’s base salary. Members are also inducted into Ohio State’s Academy of Teaching.

Annually, a maximum of 10 faculty members are selected for the award in recognition of teaching excellence. Full-time Ohio State faculty members on all campuses with the rank of instructor through full professor in the clinical or tenure track who, in the past three years, have taught undergraduate and/or graduate/professional students are eligible for this award.

“In their work to prepare the next generation of leaders, distinguished teachers like Dr. Joe represent the best in teaching excellence and the true spirit of who we are as Buckeyes,” said Pierce. “On behalf of The Ohio State University Alumni Association, I am thrilled to be a part of presenting this award.”

Raczkowski and other 2024 faculty award winners will be recognized on April 30 during the annual Faculty Awards Celebration.