Joe Schatzer of Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics has been named a 2018 recipient of the Regents Distinguished Teaching Award.
The annual OSU award recognizes a full-time faculty member who has demonstrated a strong dedication to enhancing students’ classroom learning experience. Nominees must be recommended by both professors and students.
Mike Woods, professor and head of the department of agricultural economics, nominated Schatzer for the prestigious award and praised his dedication to students.
“I have observed no one who works harder or cares more about students,” he said, “It is accurate to say that Dr. Schatzer has shaped the form and content of our undergraduate program for more than two decades.”
Woods added that on top of all of Schatzer’s duties in the classroom, he also advises more than 90 undergraduate students annually who are majoring in agricultural economics or agribusiness.
Growing up on his family farm in rural Missouri, Schatzer knew as a senior in high school that he wanted to receive a doctorate in agricultural economics. He did not realize it at the time but the decision would allow him to significantly and positively affect the lives of many students along the way.
An OSU faculty member since 1983, Schatzer said that while he is pleased and humbled to receive the honor, awards are not something he usually needs to feel successful.
“My goal has always been to move students from where they were to some better point of knowledge,” he said.
Kate Miller, a senior majoring in agricultural economics and agricultural communications, is just one of the many students who Schatzer has provided guidance to throughout his career.
“He creates an environment for students that invites questions and conversation,” she said.
On her very first day of classes at OSU, Schatzer sparked her interest in agricultural economics and has been a driving force in her education throughout her undergraduate experience. As she transitions from college to a career, she believes his advice will always stay with her.
“From introductory courses for first-semester students to small, rigorous classes for graduating seniors, Dr. Schatzer ensures students are prepared for their next step,” Miller said.
The family-like culture of OSU is something for which Schatzer has always been thankful. His 36 years at OSU has taught him that students sometimes have a tough time navigating their college career. He considers himself not just a faculty member to students; he wants students to think of him as extended family.
“As an advisor, they can come to me with anything and I will do everything I can to help them figure it out,” he said. “Life is about more than just getting a good grade. Seeing students grow [through their academic and personal challenges] has always been important to me.”
As Schatzer looks toward retirement sometime within the next five years, it is no surprise he says the one thing he will miss the most are students. One option he is exploring is to stay involved in education through local community colleges near his hometown in Missouri, possibly serving as an adjunct professor.
“I don’t think I’ll ever give up with helping people learn in some fashion, even if it’s through teaching Sunday school or adult education,” Schatzer said. “There are lots of ways I can stay involved with people.”
As an academic unit, the department of agricultural economics is part of the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The college offers 16 major and 55 study options, in addition to more than 60 student organizations and competitive teams.
By Mandy Taylor