Lanier F. Holt said he wouldn’t have wanted to win the Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education any other year.
His mother passed away Jan. 29 due to COVID-19, and as her youngest son, he said receiving the award in the same year meant a lot to him.
Holt, an associate professor in the School of Communication, was awarded the Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education Sept. 9 on behalf of the National Communication Association. Holt said receiving the award is important to him because it shows how the material he is teaching has a lasting impact on students.
“My goal is to make students better,” Holt said. “Not just better than they are now, but better than they are now, and better than they thought they could be. My goal is for students to be better than me.”
Holt, who teaches crisis communication and crime and the news media, said before teaching he worked for world headquarters at Honeywell, and he freelanced for the NAACP and news outlets such as the Chicago Tribune and Indianapolis Star. He added that becoming an educator was far from his mind at the time.
“It wasn’t whether I thought I would be good at teaching, it was if I was going to go into education at all,” Holt said. “After I took my last final at the University of Minnesota, I never thought I would go back to school.”
Wendy Fernando, director of external affairs and publications for the National Communication Association, said in an email the award is given annually to an educator who “exemplifies superlative teaching in higher education.”
“Dr. Holt’s record exemplifies the potential of educators to nurture students from diverse backgrounds to become future leaders,” Fernando said. “Holt has made a lasting difference in students’ lives, from helping students achieve graduate school acceptances, to raising awareness of racial injustices.”
Holt said his goal as an educator is to prepare students for the real world by providing them with information in a way they will remember.
“If you can’t handle my courses, you can’t do this field,” Holt said. “This is literally what you will be doing 18 months from now. If we only give our students theory, then we are doing them a disservice.”
Despite the honor of a national award, Holt said the most important award he has received was the Outstanding Award for Teaching — which was given based on Ohio State students’ votes.
“The students see you every single day,” Holt said. “They see you when you feel like teaching and when you don’t feel like teaching. To me, that matters a lot.”
Holt will be presented with the award Nov. 20 at the National Communication Association’s annual convention in Seattle, according to the School of Communication website .