Hollis named Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year in West Virginia

Dan Hollis, an associate professor of journalism and mass communications at Marshall, has been selected as the 2012 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching West Virginia Professor of the Year. Hollis was selected from nearly 300 top professors in the United States.

The selection was announced Nov. 15 during an awards luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Hollis, who in addition to teaching is serving as interim assistant dean of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was on hand to receive his award.

“Obviously, it’s a great honor,” Hollis said. “I love teaching, being in the classroom and interacting with students. It’s my life. Anytime you get recognized for doing something you love, it’s a bonus.”

The recipient of the Marshall & Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award at Marshall University is annually nominated for the Carnegie award. Hollis received the 2011 Reynolds award.

Three other Marshall professors have won the Carnegie award: Dr. Karen Mitchell, a mathematics professor, in 1995; Dr. John McKernan, an English professor, in 2000; and Dr. Steven Mewaldt, a psychology professor, in 2003.

Dr. Gayle Ormiston, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said Hollis winning the award was no surprise to him.

“Dan is very popular in the classroom, and it’s obvious he connects well with his students,” Ormiston said. “He is enthusiastic, fun and engaging. Dan once said the first day of school each semester is like Christmas morning to him. Most of all, he is an outstanding professor. We congratulate Dan on winning this very prestigious award.”

Paul Gessler is a reporter at WBFF-TV in Baltimore, Md., and a former student of Hollis.  He wrote a letter of support for Hollis during the selection process.

“His energy and sense of humor can hold a lecture hall clamoring for more,” Gessler said in the letter. “Often times during class, passing students would peer into Hollis’ class, inevitably to answer their internal dialogue, ‘Who is that guy, and why is he walking on chairs?’ His name is Dan Hollis. And, no one’s quite sure why he does that.”

Gessler said that while Hollis’ classes are enjoyable, he is “no easy out.”

“You have to work hard for your grade,” Gessler said. “If a student doesn’t meet expectations on an assignment, I’ve seen him assign a new, tougher project for the student as a chance to climb out of a hole. Second chances need to be earned from him.”

Gessler said that regardless of whether a student is celebrating or heartbroken, Hollis is there for them.

“We have fun, but the students know I care and care a lot,” Hollis said. “There are many great teachers at Marshall, many in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications alone. For whatever reason, someone singled me out, but the honor is in representing all my colleagues.”

In addition to the Reynolds award, Hollis received the Pickens-Queen Excellence in Teaching Award in 2001. He also has taken first place in six consecutive years, and seven of the past eight, in the News/Sports/Public Affairs category of the National Broadcasting Society and Alpha Rho Epsilon Professional Electronic Media Awards for his creative work which can also be seen on HerdVideo, Marshall’s YouTube channel.

Hollis joined Marshall in the fall of 1999. He was born in southwestern Indiana and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Indiana in 1983. During college and after graduation, he worked at WFIE-TV in Evansville, Ind., as an award-winning photographer, producer and reporter. In 1989, he became a freelance videographer, often shooting recruiting videos for major colleges and universities.

In 1996, Hollis decided to return to school to pursue his true love: teaching. He received his master’s degree in communications from the University of Kentucky in 1997 and taught there two years before joining Marshall.

This year, a state Professor of the Year was recognized in 30 states and the District of Columbia. CASE assembled two preliminary panels of judges to select finalists. The Carnegie Foundation then convened the third and final panel, which selected four national winners. CASE and Carnegie select state winners from top entries resulting from the judging process. Hollis  was selected from faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country.


Dan Hollis, an associate professor of journalism and mass communications, has been selected as the 2012 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching West Virginia Professor of the Year.

Video of Dan Hollis teaching may be viewed at http://youtu.be/7KnFSHa0IpA.