The Ohio State University at Marion

Crosby earns prestigious Arts & Sciences award for inspiring students

February 6, 2019
Crosby earns prestigious Arts & Sciences award for inspiring students

Pictured above: Peter Hahn, Dean of Arts and Humanities presents a $20,000 Ratner Award to Associate Professor of English Sara Crosby, the first regional campus professor to ever receive this prestigious award.

Ohio State Marion Associate Professor of English, Sara Crosby was among five Ohio State arts and humanities faculty awarded this year’s Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award during a surprise presentation in front of her spring semester English 4597.02 course, American Regional Cultures in Transition - Strange Louisiana.

The Ratner Award recognizes faculty for making a difference in students' educations, lives, and careers. Candidates are chosen for creative teaching and exemplary records of engaging, motivating, and inspiring students. Each Ratner Award includes a $10,000 cash prize, as well as a $10,000 teaching account to fund future projects.

"She has some sort of secret sauce that makes students super excited to take her classes.” ~ Stuart Lishan, Marion campus English program coordinator

Crosby submitted a proposal to the award committee that centers on building a study-away program that would bring her students to coastal Louisiana to experience first-hand the literature, characters, and ecology of Louisiana. The study-away program is based on her course “Strange Louisiana.” Crosby spent her formative years on a small Louisiana coastal island that is now almost uninhabitable due to ecological degradation.

Crosby was selected for the award from a highly competitive pool of 400 applicants university-wide. The evaluation committee consisted of administrators and past winners of the award.

“I think it is a wonderful recognition of the teaching that Dr. Crosby has been doing for many years, and really a prestigious award,” said Ohio State Marion Dean & Director Gregory S. Rose.

“We’re glad to have this award. We’re really honored that it came to the campus here. Dean Hahn told me that Sara [Crosby] is the first regional campus faculty member to win this award,” said Rose.

“It is a great feather in our cap, and most importantly it’s a great feather in Sara’s cap,” he added.

Dean of Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, Peter Hahn said, “The Ronald and Debra Rattner Award is a wonderful testament to the power of teaching. The prize, by design of the benefactors, deliberately rewards both a past teaching performance and the promise of future excellence that Sara wrote about, in this case, for a special study opportunity she’s going to prepare for her students.”

When choosing recipients of the Ratner Award, “we look at the quality of the proposal, as well as the record of performance to date, teaching evaluations, student evaluations, peer reviews, letters of reference from department chair, or campus dean,” Hahn explained.

Ohio State Marion English Department Program Coordinator, Stuart Lishan said, “Sara is one of our best teachers. Students get giddy when they talk about her. She has some sort of secret sauce that makes students super excited to take her classes.”

“I’ve observed her and written evaluations over this last semester. She manages to sort of activate students to be active readers, to be engaged in the classroom material. She is very engaged,” he added.

According to Lishan, Crosby is a major figure in a type of literary criticism called environmental criticism. She is particularly interested in the environmental degradation that is going on in Louisiana, which is “the front lines of wetlands destruction.”

According to Lishan, the island where she grew up is now almost uninhabitable with storm surges that have occurred because of the loss of the wetlands around that area.

“Crosby manages to get students involved in the cultural traditions in that area in a number of ways, like food waste culture, academic work, heavy reading, and reading some challenging material. Students get in circles; they have talks. A lot of her pedagogy is not teacher-centered, but more student-centered,” he said.

“We have a small English faculty here and so we talk to them a lot about who your favorite professor is among our students and Sara is always at the top. I am really, really happy that she got this award. It is well, well deserved,” added Lishan.