Outstanding CE Educator of the Year

A Marshall University professor has been named the first recipient of the Outstanding Civil Engineering Educator of the Year Award established by the West Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (WVASCE).

Dr. Richard McCormick, a professor of engineering in the College of Information Technology and Engineering (CITE), received the award at the WVASCE’s annual meeting, which was held recently at Hawk’s Nest State Park.

McCormick was nominated by his dean at Marshall University, Dr. Wael Zatar, who also is president of the WVASCE. Dr. William Pierson, professor and chair of the Weisberg Division of Engineering and Computer Science, and Dr. Betsy Dulin, former dean of CITE and currently a professor of engineering, provided letters of support for him.

The WVASCE award may be presented annually to a tenured faculty member in an engineering school in West Virginia who is a resident at the time of the nomination and a member of the WVASCE.

After knowing McCormick for nine years, Zatar said, "As the dean of the College of Information Technology and Engineering at Marshall University, I am really proud to have someone with the character, attitude, and professionalism of Dr. McCormick. Talking about an outstanding professor, educator, colleague and friend, I was very fortunate to have Dr. McCormick assisting and encouraging me over the years. He is certainly among those civil engineering professors who have shaped the industry and the economy of this region."

And, according to Zatar, McCormick has devoted his life to "strengthening the education of civil engineering students, providing a very positive impact on the civil engineering students, providing a very positive impact on the civil engineering profession, and enhancing the quality of life in West Virginia."

Prior to coming to Marshall McCormick spent many years at West Virginia University Institute of Technology, where he served in a variety of roles as a faculty member, department chair, interim executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs, Zatar said. Dulin was one of McCormick’s students at WVUIT before they later became colleagues at Marshall.

"Like many engineering students who went before and followed after me, I benefitted from his guidance and his example, and his ability not only to teach the required material but to mentor, advise and inspire," Dulin said. "As his colleague and former dean, I have continued to be impressed by his work ethic, his dedication to student success, and his ability to ‘get things done’ even when faced with roadblocks or problems of various sorts."
In addition, she said, McCormick’s "character, attitude and approach to his work, his colleagues, and – first and foremost – his students, has remained unchanged."

Pierson and McCormick have been colleagues at both WVUIT and Marshall and, according to Pierson, "There is no doubt that Dr. McCormick is one of the most gifted and effective professors of civil engineering that I have known." For example, he pointed out that McCormick received the highest student rating of all undergraduate engineering professors during the spring 2011 semester—results that are consistent with other evaluation cycles. Another proof of McCormick’s teaching effectiveness is the overall performance of MU engineering students on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, Pierson said.

"Our average passing rate on the FE exam has been above 83 percent, which is above the national average of about 75 percent over the same time period," Pierson said. "This success is, in my opinion, due in large part to the quality of the educational experience provided by Dr. McCormick in key foundation courses."

"I am very honored to be named the recipient of the first WVASCE Outstanding Civil Engineering Educator of the Year award." McCormick said. "I was also humbled to read the very nice comments submitted by my colleagues in support of my nomination. I have had many students go on to very successful careers in civil engineering, largely through their own hard work and dedication, and I am happy that I have been able to play a small part in their success."