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Sivakoff recognized with Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching

Frances Sivakoff, assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and faculty member at The Ohio State University at Marion 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.

Senior leadership surprised Sivakoff with news of her selection during a virtual meeting on March 27. Joining the celebration were Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Patrick Louchouarn, Vice Provost for Academic Policy and Faculty Resources Helen Malone and Ohio State Alumni Association Chief of Strategy and Belonging Tina Pierce.

According to Ohio State Marion Dean and Director, Gregory S. Rose, it has not taken long for Frances to have an impact on the learning of Ohio State Marion students, particularly in biology 1101 courses.  

"The innovative teaching methods she has introduced involve students in different and engaging ways of learning.  Some innovations resulted from Frances’ deep thinking about how to develop effective methods of teaching during the remote learning sessions occasioned by Covid restrictions, while others have evolved from continued thinking since then," said Rose.  

Rose said, "Frances always shows concern for her students’ well-being and, as many of them note, provides positivity, uplift, and encouragement to help them succeed."  

"Ohio State Marion is excited to have Frances join the other superior faculty on this campus who have been recognized by this award," he added. 

Recognized by students and colleagues alike as an exemplary educator and mentor, Sivakoff has forged a notable teaching record underscored by consistently highly rated student evaluations and positive testimonials. With a strong focus on teaching introductory biology courses for non-majors, students admire her clear expectations, helpful guidance, dedication to their success and ability to make complex topics understandable.

head and shoulders of woman in green shirt smiling with nature photos in background

Sivakoff expressed her thanks for winning this award shortly after the announcement was made.

"Thank you so much for this award.  I am so honored and humbled by it," said Sivakoff. 

" I could not have done the excellent teaching that I have been acknowledged  for without the support staff and my colleagues, all the help I have received.  Number one, thank you to my students.  Receiving this award is great," she added.

Students consistently highlight Sivakoff's genuine care as she invests time in building personal connections and understanding their strengths, obstacles and aspirations. This tailored approach fosters a nurturing environment where students feel encouraged to seek assistance and guidance without hesitation.


“Professor Sivakoff is what I like to call an educator of a lifetime,” wrote an alumni nominator. “She is a role model to all her students and genuinely cares about every one of them. She is also the professor who made me realize that I can do anything I set my mind. I consider myself lucky to have had her as my professor because she not only taught me the content that I needed to learn for my degree, she also taught me that the sky is the limit.”

Committed to enhancing her teaching through professional development, Sivakoff participates in programs offered by Ohio State’s Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning and other sources, and she has redesigned her courses by leveraging technology and interactive formats.


“Frances reflects the model of teaching excellence at Ohio State,” said Louchouarn. “Not only does she create an engaging learning environment where all students feel supported, but she develops innovative teaching approaches that connect the material to students’ daily experiences and real-life examples. She is the epitome of the inspirational instructors who always find ways to make complex ideas accessible to everyone.”


Sivakoff’s commitment to student learning extends beyond the classroom. She actively engages with students outside of class, providing guidance on course and career matters, advising student organizations and participating in various student-focused activities.

She is an advisor for the Ohio State Marion student Science Club and serves on the annual awards committee for biology students. As a service to pre-college students in the Marion area, she has been a judge for the North Central Regional Science Fair held on campus and has mentored undergraduate researchers on the Marion and Columbus campuses. In 2022, she received the Ohio State Marion Outstanding Professor Award.

While Sivakoff’s primary teaching duties are undergraduate courses, she advises and mentors graduate students and postdocs, serves on thesis and dissertation committees and runs an active research laboratory.


“Frances’ impact on her students extends beyond the classroom, shaping their growth and careers as future Buckeye alumni,” said President and CEO of The Ohio State University Alumni Association Molly Ranz Calhoun. “I can think of no better words to acknowledge her influence than those of one of her student nominators: ‘Professor Sivakoff not only teaches biology to her students but also teaches them how to dream, and as far as I am concerned, there is nothing more important than that.’”


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.

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