Daniel Breyer of the Department of Philosophy, Aimee E. Miller-Ott of the School of Communication, and Mark Grizzard of the School of Music will receive Outstanding University Teaching Awards at the Founders Day Convocation on February 21.
Outstanding University Teaching Award, Tenure-Track
Breyer is an associate professor of philosophy and the director of the Religious Studies Program. Breyer earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University in 2008. That same year, he joined the faculty at Illinois State University, before earning tenure in 2014. He regularly teaches courses on Greco-Roman philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, and philosophy of religion as well as courses on special topics like luck, evil, and blame. His passion for teaching has motivated him to teach philosophy outside the boundaries of the traditional classroom to elementary-age children, high school students, and the general public, and he just finished recording a 24-lecture series for The Great Courses that will help people from all over the world understand “the dark side of human nature.”
In recognition of his teaching excellence, Breyer has been honored with a University Teaching Initiative Award, a Kenneth A. and Mary Ann Shaw Teaching Fellowship, and a College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding College Teacher Award. In his research, Breyer often explores what it means to be a person, where the concept of a person identifies those features of ourselves, as human beings, that we think are most important but also most puzzling. With this focus, he has addressed questions in the areas of epistemology, ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, and Buddhist philosophy. He has been invited to share his scholarship at celebrated venues like the Columbia University Society for Comparative Philosophy, and scholars have discussed his work in leading journals. He has been awarded competitive research grants for projects in both philosophy and religious studies, and he has been selected to participate in multiple interdisciplinary summer institutes funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Templeton Foundation. Breyer is currently completing a book that develops and defends a novel theory of moral responsibility inspired by the Indian Buddhist tradition.
Miller-Ott is an associate professor in the School of Communication. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May 2007 and previously served as a faculty member for six years at the University of Hartford before coming to Illinois State in the fall of 2014. Miller-Ott teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Communication including research methods, family communication, interpersonal communication, and the dark side of interpersonal communication. Her research interests center on the ways that people manage identity and information through their personal communication. She is a member of the 2018-19 cohort of the Provost’s Leadership Initiative. She sits on several department and college-level committees including the School Faculty Status Committee and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Research Proposal Review Committee. She is a member of several interdisciplinary initiatives, and is currently working with faculty and staff from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Applied Science and Technology, and the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology to develop and implement training workshops for faculty on how to facilitate difficult conversations in the classroom.
Miller-Ott has received the Summer Faculty Fellowship, Pre-Tenure Faculty Initiative, New Faculty Initiative, and New Faculty Start-Up Grants through CAS. Further, through CTLT, she has won a Teaching Innovations Grant and a Teaching Development Travel Grant. In her work with students, she regularly advises theses and 39-hour graduate projects, independent studies, and honors projects. She also supervises the graduate student teaching assistants who instruct sections of the introduction to interpersonal communication course. She regularly works with students on research and supports their presentations at regional and national communication conferences and at the annual campus research symposium. She strives to find unique ways to blend teaching and research in the classroom. For instance, she facilitates collaborative student research teams and helps students develop ways to translate scholarly research into practical application.
Outstanding University Teaching Award, Non-Tenure Track
Grizzard is an instructional assistant professor in Illinois State University’s School of Music. He holds master’s degrees in composition and choral conducting from Illinois State, and he has completed coursework towards a doctor of musical arts degree in choral music from the University of Illinois. Grizzard joined the faculty in 2015. He conducts the auditioned women’s chorus Belle Voix and the auditioned mixed chorus Chamber Singers. He teaches courses in music theory, musicianship, and conducting. Grizzard has composed and arranged music for many campus ensembles including Concert Choir and Symphony Orchestra, and he co-produces Illinois State’s annual Music for the Holidays concerts. The focus of his research is folk heritage in the Latvian choral tradition; after traveling to the 2018 Latvian Song Festival in July, Grizzard conducted Chamber Singers in an on-campus lecture-recital entitled “The Singing Revolution,” which celebrated the music and political inspiration of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. His article “Castle of Light: A Snapshot of Latvian Choral Music as the Nation Turns 100” is slated for 2019 publication in the American Choral Director’s Association’s main publication, The Choral Journal.
Grizzard is a published arranger and songwriter, and his arrangements have been performed by ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago. Grizzard has served as an adjudicator for Illinois High School Association organizational contests, presented seminars on music arranging and performance for the National Association for Music Education and the Illinois Music Education Association, traveled as guest clinician to school choirs across the Midwest, and served on the board of the Illinois chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association as men’s choir repertoire and standards chair.