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John Michael Riley (center) accepts the 2019 CASNR Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching from Tom Coon, OSU vice president and dean for agricultural programs, (right) and Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean of academic programs (left). (Photo by Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services)

Riley honored with Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching

Thursday, May 30, 2019

John Michael Riley, assistant professor in the department of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, was recognized with the Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching at this spring’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Scholarships and Awards Banquet.

The award recognizes and promotes exceptional teaching by a faculty member with less than five years of experience in higher education teaching.

Riley has been part of the CASNR faculty since 2015 and teaches a handful of classes, advises a number of students and serves as a student organization advisor.

“Dr. Riley is an approachable professor and students value the investment he makes in them,” said Cynda Clary, associate dean of academic programs for the college. “Dr. Riley brings relevance to his classroom so his students can identify with what they are learning. Students want to be in his class because he makes learning so fun.”

Riley is both creative and innovative in engaging students in his courses, said Mike Woods, agricultural economics department head.

“Dr. Riley has quickly become a favorite with our undergraduate students, who find him challenging and effective with the capability of sharing real-world examples that increase their understanding of difficult concepts,” Woods said.

Woods added Riley’s actions show he truly cares whether students are learning the materials presented and whether he is presenting the appropriate materials, citing how Riley strives to equip students with tools that are relevant and useful for their futures.

“I make every effort to be properly prepared, which brings with it the foundation for a well-delivered lecture,” Riley said. “Within each lecture, I believe enthusiasm and passion creates an environment of engagement.”

Riley’s passion for students and education becomes even more apparent at events, where he strives to bolster students and create an atmosphere of inclusivity for every individual present.

“Dr. Riley has personally pushed me to be the best that I can be, even when I believed I was at my limit,” a recent CASNR graduate said. “He knew my greater potential and he truly sees this potential in all of his students. I wouldn’t be in my career field if it wasn’t for Dr. Riley.”

CASNR believes in the value of hands-on education and the importance of having a well-rounded student experience. The college’s award-winning faculty members are dedicated to developing students and are passionate about adding value to the total educational experience. With 16 majors, a variety of study options, plus more than 60 student organizations, CASNR is committed to expanding minds and inspiring purpose. Learn more at

MEDIA CONTACT: Melissa Mourer | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-3737 |

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