Akkerman Earns 2020 Regents Distinguished Teaching Award
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
For the past five years, Jill Akkerman, DVM, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Physiological Sciences, has been wowing veterinary students and her peers. She has earned a reputation as an outstanding teacher in both classroom and laboratory instruction.
“Her student evaluation scores have consistently been above the department and college averages in all categories,” said Dr. Carlos Risco, dean of the veterinary college. “Students not only praise her teaching ability but also commend her approachability, mentorship and compassion. The high regard that students have for Dr. Akkerman is clearly evident by being selected as Freshman Class Teacher of the Year three times and voted Teacher of the Year for the entire College of Veterinary Medicine once since joining our faculty.”
Cody Blalock, class of 2022, benefitted first-hand from Dr. Akkerman’s teaching skillset.
“Dr. Akkerman’s teaching is student focused and data based,” Blalock said. “She goes above and beyond to ensure all questions are answered, inside and outside of her anatomy course and lab sections. She is also part of many crucial committees at the college including Curriculum and Effective Instruction, Admissions, Wellness, and Awards/Scholarship and is involved in the Phi Zeta Nu Chapter, the Achievement through Mentoring Program and the Academic behaviors in first year veterinary students: A pilot study. Her professionalism, encouragement and involvement make her extremely deserving of this award.”
“This award is quite an honor,” Akkerman said. “It’s excellent that the Regents and the university have this award to recognize the importance of teaching to the mission of the college and I feel honored to be included in such a group of recognized educators at Oklahoma State University.”
Akkerman grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina and knew at a young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. In high school, she enrolled in a work study program and was fortunate to get a job at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. That experience solidified that veterinary medicine would be her career choice. After earning her DVM degree from North Carolina’s veterinary college, she went into private practice.
“I found that educating clients was something I was really good at,” she said. “One day my anatomy professor from NC State called saying they needed somebody to teach anatomy and was I interested? I did it and absolutely loved it. I’ve been teaching anatomy ever since.
“It’s really nice to be able to take young and enthusiastic minds and teach them the relevance of anatomy as it applies to their career. I think my favorite thing is when I can see the lightbulbs go off, when they make a connection to something that they have done before and really get how anatomy is so important for them.”
Akkerman has played a role in almost 2,000 students becoming veterinarians.
“To me that connection to them and the future of their careers makes me feel special. I hope Dr. Akkerman is remembered for being enthusiastic; the students know that I am. I genuinely care about their success in my class as well as the whole program and they know that. I also want to be remembered for all the things that I can make out of a pair of socks for anatomical models.”
Akkerman attributes her success as a good educator to in part being enthusiastic about her subject, engaging students in the classroom, having clear expectations or outcomes for what she wants them to achieve and assessing those fairly.
“Be creative and think outside the box. Every year I try something new—some things work and some don’t. But keeping that creativity will keep you engaged and the students engaged as well.”
The OSU Regents Distinguished Teaching Award is bestowed upon full-time faculty who have evidenced unusually significant and meritorious achievement in the instruction of students for a significant period of years.
MEDIA CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU College of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 | email@example.com