Pamela Coats receives university’s Distinguished Teacher Award

A Florida State University finance professor lauded by her students as an “exemplary teacher” who goes “above and beyond” in making sure they thoroughly understand their coursework has been selected to receive the university’s top teaching honor.

Pamela Coats, the Robert C. Earnest Professor of Finance in the College of Business, was named the recipient of the 2009-2010 Distinguished Teacher Award during the university’s Faculty Awards Program, held Thursday, April 1. She will receive a $7,500 stipend along with the award.

“I am honored,” Coats said of the recognition. “Especially knowing this nomination comes from my students, it means the world to me. It’s been an absolute privilege learning with them. I am also in awe of the many amazing, caring teachers all over our campus. These are two of the reasons I love FSU.”

Coats, who has taught at Florida State since 1978, described herself as “lucky to be a professor — that’s the bottom line. I often tell my students what a wonderful career and life it is. And I want to especially acknowledge my colleagues in the Department of Finance and the College of Business. I am proud to work alongside people I so genuinely admire.”

Nominations for the Distinguished Teacher Award are submitted by students to honor faculty members who have made a great impact on them. Those nominations then are reviewed by a faculty committee, which makes the final selection.

“She is the best professor I’ve had in any undergraduate or graduate class, and it isn’t even close,” one student wrote on his nomination form. “She has a knack for providing instruction while treating us as colleagues, rather than students … Each of her 100+ students feel that they are her most important pupil.”

The student added that Coats “sprinkles her responses, her course notes, and everything she does with a refreshing … sense of humor that is both wry and intelligent.”

This isn’t Coats’ first student-nominated honor. She also received a University Teaching Award, which “recognizes faculty for excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching,” during the 2000-2001 academic year.

“Dr. Coats’ ability to make finance accessible brings students to her classes, but her ability to connect principles of finance with sound decision-making practices necessary for all life’s choices makes her a valued mentor to whom students return again and again,” said Anne Rowe, dean of the Faculties and deputy provost at Florida State. “FSU is fortunate to have such a gifted teacher and mentor in Pamela Coats, and we are very proud to honor her with the Distinguished Teaching Award.”

As a researcher and teacher, Coats’ areas of concentration include corporate finance; financial forecasting and simulation models; and neural networks/genetic algorithms. She is a prolific author, with dozens of research papers presented at professional meetings, published in academic journals and reprinted in books.

As dean of the College of Business, Caryn L. Beck-Dudley has had an opportunity to observe Coats’ teaching style firsthand. She described Coats as “one of those professors who truly makes an impact. Whether she is teaching students across the country in her online courses or teaching students on campus in a traditional setting, the students know she cares.

“She is equally as skilled with both graduate students and undergraduate students,” Beck-Dudley said. “The amount of time she takes with each student, ensuring the student understands very difficult subject matter, is phenomenal. She really epitomizes our desire to give each student individual attention. She is a role model and a master teacher and is truly deserving of this award.”

William Christiansen, chairman of the Department of Finance and recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award himself for the 2007-2008 academic year, echoed Beck-Dudley’s praise.

“Pam is a devoted and gifted teacher in the Department of Finance,” he said. “She is especially strong in her online MBA classes. She spends countless hours working with her online students, always displaying a caring attitude. Her students recognize her commitment, knowledge and love for teaching.”

Other outstanding FSU faculty members also were recognized in the following categories during the Faculty Awards Program:

Distinguished University Scholars

This is the third year for this award, which is designed to recognize outstanding performance by Florida State University employees who are non-tenured or non-tenure-seeking, have longstanding track records of research and/or creative activity at the university, and occupy more senior levels in their respective positions. Examples of such positions include the titles of curator, staff physicist, scholar/scientist or research associate. This year’s recipients will receive one-time awards of $10,000 and framed certificates. The Distinguished University Scholar Award is presented to:

  • Mark Bird, Magnet Science & Technology
  • Barbara Hamby, English
  • Edmund Myers, Physics

Developing Scholar Awards

Developing Scholars are mid-career associate professors who have been singled out by their peers for recognition. Each receives a $10,000 award to be used in their research program, following specific guidelines, along with a framed certificate. The Developing Scholars for 2009-2010 are:

  • Stephanie Al Otaiba, School of Teacher Education
  • Julianna Baggott, English
  • Carol Connor, Psychology
  • Wu Min Deng, Biological Science
  • Gregory Dudley, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Ingo Wiedenhoever, Physics

Distinguished Research Professor Awards

The title of Distinguished Research Professor is the third highest faculty award at Florida State, following the Robert O. Lawton and Daisy Parker Flory awards. A select panel of current Distinguished Research Professors vets the nominations, submitted by faculty peers, for presentation to the university president. Each recipient will receive a one-time award of $10,000, along with a framed certificate. The Distinguished Research Professors this year are:

  • William C. Burnett, Oceanography
  • Bruce R. Locke, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
  • Per Arne Rikvold, Physics
  • Amy Wetherby, Clinical Sciences

Graduate Faculty Mentor Awards

The Graduate Faculty Mentor Award honors faculty mentors whose dedication to graduate students and mentoring have made a significant contribution to the quality of life and professional development of graduate students. The honor comes with a $3,000 award. The honorees this year are:

  • Stephanie Al Otaiba, School of Teacher Education
  • Carol Anne Clayson, Meteorology
  • Yun-Hwa “Peggy” Hsieh, Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences
  • Norman “Brad” Schmidt, Psychology

Undergraduate Advising Awards

Recipients of the University Undergraduate Advising Award have been nominated by students who have been beneficiaries of their services. These individuals dedicate their time to ensuring that students receive the best possible advice related to their courses and their career choices. The recipient also receives a $2,000 award. This year’s honorees are:

  • Igor Alabugin, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Shellie Camp, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Mary LePoer, Modern Languages and Linguistics
  • Mark Roof, Business

Honors Thesis Mentor Awards

The Honors Thesis Mentor Award was established to recognize and honor faculty members whose direction and advisement of honors thesis research or creative activity has significantly contributed to the enhancement and quality of education of undergraduate students at The Florida State University. Faculty are nominated by students in the Honors in the Major program for this award. It comes with a $2,000 stipend. This year’s honorees are:

  • David Kirby, English
  • Irene Padavic, Sociology

Undergraduate Teaching Awards

The Undergraduate Teaching Award recognizes faculty for excellence in undergraduate teaching. Recipients must be outstanding in the many aspects of teaching that contribute to successful teaching and learning. This is a student-oriented award with nominations submitted by students and alumni. Each recipient also receives a $2,000 award. This year’s honorees are:

  • Michael Bakan, Music
  • Bruce Billings, Accounting
  • Joyce Carbonell, Psychology
  • Amy Chan Hilton, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Katharine Davis, Teacher Education, Panama City Campus
  • Gregory Dudley, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Leigh Edwards, English
  • Kathy Froelich, School of Teacher Education
  • Carrie Lane, Psychology
  • Timothy Logan, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Janice McCabe, Sociology
  • David McNaughton, Philosophy
  • Vincent Mikkelsen, History
  • Steve Paris, Mathematics
  • Ebrahim Randeree, Library and Information Studies
  • Allen Romano, Classics
  • Timothy Stover, Classics
  • Robert Wagoner, Dance

Graduate Teaching Awards

The Graduate Teaching Award recognizes faculty for excellence in graduate teaching. Recipients must be outstanding in the many aspects of teaching that contribute to successful teaching and learning. This is a student-oriented award with nominations submitted by students and alumni. Each recipient also receives a $2,000 award. This year’s honorees are:

  • G. Curtis Bridgeman, Law
  • Susan Fiorito, Textiles and Consumer Sciences
  • George Huston, Accounting
  • Chris Schatschneider, Psychology
  • Kathleen Blake Yancey, English