April 2020: Steve Skripak
Professor of practice in management within the Pamplin College of Business
2020 Excellence in Teaching Award from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Virginia Tech
The award recognizes faculty members for effective, engaged, and dynamic approaches and achievements as educators. The center presents the award to approximately nine Virginia Tech faculty members each academic year.
Among the goals of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning are advancing experiential learning at Virginia Tech and improving student learning through research-based instructional practices and student-centered design. Skripak has been putting students first in the Department of Management for fifteen years. He describes his approach to teaching as student-centric and is well-known for making those personal connections a priority.
Among Skripak’s proudest accomplishments is his design of the Foundations of Business course, which is now required in the college curriculum. Ron Poff, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Management, praised Skripak’s focused engagement in developing and implementing this fundamental learning experience. “His passion for the introduction to business course is evident in personal commitment to the course content when he adapted the textbook and content development, to engaging the Pamplin College of Business alumni who participate in our Alumni Roundtable discussion, and to leading the entire instructional team during the semester,” Poff said. “I receive compliments on a regular basis from my students about the course, the content, and activities throughout the semester, which is a direct result of Steve’s passionate professionalism and excellence in teaching.”
Skripak is admired in the Pamplin College of Business not only for his field expertise, but also for his effort in being an accessible resource to his students. Siddhi Kodolikar, a former student and mentee, spoke highly of Skripak’s commitment to building relationships. “Once in a while, you will find a professor that goes above and beyond to educate and support a student,” Kodolikar said. “That is who Steve is. The impact he makes on his students’ lives is undoubtedly that of a stellar professor, but also that of a lifelong friend and mentor.”
For Skripak, the most meaningful experiences as a teacher are when he is able to work alongside struggling students to help them succeed. “In general, the experiences where I have been able to help a struggling student master the material have been the most meaningful,” he said. “I love A students, but anyone can teach them—they don't need much help. It's more rewarding helping a student go from possibly failing to getting a satisfactory grade in the course.”
Skripak’s advice to new faculty reflects his commitment to student-centered practice. “Learn the names of your students as quickly as you can,” Skripak said. “Show up early for class, especially during the early part of the semester, and intentionally seek out conversations with students. These efforts demonstrate caring on your part and will make you more approachable when students are having trouble.”