HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Dr. Andrew Nichols, a professor of civil engineering at Marshall University, has been named one of the five finalists for the West Virginia Professor of the Year award.
The Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia will announce the winner in early March, according to Marshall’s provost, Dr. Gayle Ormiston.
“We only nominate one professor for this award and it is one of the highest honors a faculty member can achieve,” Ormiston said. “Nichols was the recipient of last year’s Dr. Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award for his impact on students and innovative teaching style. He is a perfect representative of what it means to be a lifetime educator.”
Nichols, a native of Point Pleasant, came to Marshall in 2007 as an assistant professor to teach and conduct applied research in the area of transportation engineering. He has conducted traffic data collection, traffic signal design, traffic safety studies, and traffic-related research for various projects funded by the West Virginia Department of Transportation.
“Being selected as Marshall’s nominee is humbling and surreal, but equally surprising because there are so many other faculty whom I would consider better teachers than myself,” Nichols said. “I have never received formal training to be a teacher, but I believe my passions for my discipline and helping students make up for that. It is my responsibility to help students become engineers, specifically transportation engineers, and I try to create a learning environment that is both interesting and informative. Since most students use the transportation system on a daily basis, it is often easier for them to understand the concepts.”
One of these students, Jason Bryan, a 33-year-old civil engineering major from Wayne County, said his experiences inside of Nichols’ classroom have allowed him to do exactly that. Bryan, a former high school teacher, said he admired Nichols’ teaching style immediately.
“From my perspective as a real-world educator, Dr. Nichols is clear and concise in the classroom while providing unit plans and instruction that are not only technically proficient, but could be used as a model for other instructors,” Bryan said. “He is a tenured professor and an engineer who doesn’t let all the little letters after his name affect the way he treats his students. Many of our assignments required considerable work outside of class, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have enjoyed doing the work as much for another professor.”
Nichols served as keynote speaker for Marshall’s 2015 Winter Commencement held this past December. With opportunities such as these, he said he probably wouldn’t have found the same level of success at another university.
“I like the sense of community on campus at Marshall and I am extremely happy to be back in West Virginia to help advance the state and I know I couldn’t have established the type of relationships within the university and with external funding agencies at another university,” Nichols said. “I plan to retire from Marshall University – I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.”
The winner of West Virginia Professor of the Year will receive a $10,000 cash award and a handmade glass trophy, with $2,500 to the runner-up and $1,000 each to the next three finalists. To find out more about the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia, visit http://wvhumanities.org/faculty-merit-foundation.