The Carroll News
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The Carroll News

Professor Chai wins Excellence in Teaching Award

By Mackenzie Clinger

On Wednesday, Oct. 4, students and faculty gathered at the College of Arts and Sciences’ fall faculty meeting to celebrate Professor Yuh-Cheng Chai’s teaching accomplishments. Chai had recently won the College of Arts and Sciences’ Culicchia Award that recognizes teaching excellence in the John Carroll faculty. He was nominated for this award by his students and celebrated this achievement in a ceremony during the meeting.

Chai came to the United States in 1985 and completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Iowa State University. After completing his PhD, he began working at the Cleveland Clinic in 1993. In 2002, he arrived at John Carroll as a visiting faculty member and was tenured the next year. Ever since, he has remained at Carroll, utilizing his background in biochemistry by teaching General Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biochemistry lab.

“Thank you all for being here today,” Chai stated in his acceptance speech. “It is truly humbling to be accepting this award. Nothing in my previous experience could prepare me for an honor like this — especially to be recognized for doing something that I so love to do.”

Chai continued by thanking everyone who made his experience possible over the years.

“Thanks to my family and friends for their understanding and support that teaching is my passion over all the years. Thanks to my colleagues, both past and present, for all the things they have done in and outside the classroom to show the immeasurable value of being a teacher.

I also want to thank you all for creating and fostering a supportive and engaging environment.

It is a privilege to work at this University with you all. And thanks to John Carroll University for taking countless risks with me, for its constant support and for its incredible student body.”

Chai states that the most rewarding part of teaching is helping the students. “When they learn, that’s the most rewarding experience… When I see they learn something, that means they comprehend something and they understand something. That is the most rewarding moment.” He firmly believes that, “My students are caring, creative and engaged. And I would be doing them a serious disservice if I believed otherwise.”

When asked about his teaching methods, Chai responds, “For me, there is no secret formula. I just do what I do.” But he does reveal that his teaching methods connect with his deep belief that teaching ought to be student-centered.

Chai calls for his fellow College of Arts and Sciences faculty to make learning the first priority, have a passion for one’s subject matter and especially, to develop a willingness to care about students. “I make an effort to get to know them as people, and I give them the opportunity to show me how brilliant and creative they are. … I have an open policy for all my students and encourage them to engage in conversation,” Chai states. “Every student — every person — has within them a masterpiece waiting to be brought out. Some of them are closer to its realization than others, and some are rougher around the edges than others. But everyone is a gift in their own way.”

Chai addressed these students directly in his acceptance speech, declaring, “Students, you are ultimately the reason why I am here today… and you are the driving force to make me become a better teacher. I thank all of my students for having this privilege to work with all of you over the years.”

Chai ended with his speech with a verse from 1 Corinthians:

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become

sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all

faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have

not love, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love,

it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;

5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails.

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