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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (March 29, 2012) – Jim Staab, a nationally recognized scholar at the University of Central Missouri who has been described by students as an inspirational teacher and mentor, joins Missouri educators across the state to receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.
The professor of political science will be honored by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon April 4 during a conference of the Council on Public Higher Education in Jefferson City. Prior to this presentation, Staab was recognized by the UCM Board of Governors when it met March 29 on campus.
"I feel fortunate to be a teacher, to be actively involved in the learning process, and to be doing something I thoroughly enjoy doing," the longtime professor commented about the honor he is receiving.
Excellence in Education Awards are presented annually to individuals who have been selected by their colleges and universities to receive recognition. Selection is based on nominations, which must consider several criteria. This includes evidence of effective teaching, innovation in course design and delivery, effective advising, service to the university community, commitment to high standards of excellence, and success in nurturing student achievement. Individuals who nominated and support Staab believe he exemplifies the type of individual for whom the award is intended.
“Dr. Staab has a campus-wide reputation as a dedicated and talented teacher who positively impacts students inside and outside the classroom. Students describe him as ‘enthusiastic,’ ‘open-minded,’ and ‘knowledgeable,’” noted Gregory Streich, professor of political science.
Staab joined the university in 1998 as an assistant professor. While climbing the faculty ranks, he became interim chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography in 2006 and chair of the Department of Political Science in 2007. Following academic reorganization in 2011, he was named coordinator in the new Department of Government, International Studies, and Languages. In addition to teaching, since 1998 he also serves as adviser to pre-law students, and has served as department liaison to the Mock Trial team.
Michael Sawyer, chair of the Department of Government, International Studies, and Languages, said Staab consistently receives high scores from his students. Students note that he has high expectations of them, but he is willing to mentor and assist them to help them meet his academic standards. His courses on the First Amendment, the American Presidency, and State Government consistently earn high praise from students.
“While the phrase, ‘the best professor I’ve ever had’ may sound like hyperbole, the sheer frequency with which it appears on his course evaluations throughout his career at UCM leaves no doubt that he is a superior educator,” Sawyer noted in his letter of support.
Staab’s research works have included contributions to scholarly journals, as well as a book published in 2006, “The Political Thought of Justice Antonin Scalia: A Hamiltonian on the Supreme Court.” This work proved directly beneficial for students when Scalia accepted an invitation to speak at UCM, largely because of the relationship he developed with Staab as a result of the book project.
Staab has been active in many different aspects of the campus community through his participation on committees at the department, college and university levels that have helped move the institution forward. His involvement has included serving on the Faculty Senate, co-chairing the UCM Name Change Task Force, and serving on department chair and dean search committees.
The well-known professor also has received numerous honors over the years, including the Distinguished Faculty Award presented by the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award, presented by the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.
Staab’s preparation for his university teaching career took place in Virginia and includes a bachelor’s degree in political science from Roanoke College, a juris doctorate from The T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, and a Ph.D. in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.