The Academy is made up of 400 history professors and professional historians at Ohio universities, colleges and historical societies. The award was presented April 7 at the Academy’s annual meeting in Columbus.
The award recognized Taylor’s "instructional abilities, intellectual breadth, commitment to students, leadership and integrity."
The awards committee also noted Taylor’s "participation in developing and teaching interdisciplinary and team-taught courses for the college's Common Learning Course, the introduction and development of courses in public history and interdisciplinary courses in history and religion, science and film, service as a consultant in the development of the new Clark County Heritage Center, and the mentoring of faculty colleagues in the art of teaching."
Taylor joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1988 and today serves as history department chair. He previously won the top teaching award of the scholarship and leadership honorary Omicron Delta Kappa in 1991. His scholarly work is in the areas of early American intellectual history, American legal history, as well as film and history.
He has also worked extensively in public history, having played pivotal roles in the restoration of Springfield's Wescott House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright prairie-style house in Ohio, and in the recent opening of the Clark County Heritage Center.
During the ceremony, the following excerpts of letters by students and colleagues were cited as representative of Taylor’s teaching excellence:
- “The students were actively engaged and doing the work for themselves, a sign of a truly masterful teacher.”
- “He has adopted Springfield as his home and shown an unrivaled interest in its history, and brought that passion to the classroom.”
- “Tom's innovative approach to teaching has led countless students to major and minor in the department, and many others to sign up for additional courses for fun.”
- “Tom has been involved in bringing the past alive for the Springfield community.”
- “I came to appreciate his effectiveness from the fact that his students came to my own . . . classes exceptionally well prepared. Generally, they had become independent thinkers, they were comfortable with primary sources and empirical analysis, and they expected to work for results.”
- “I must note that Dr. Taylor's class, by enhancing my enjoyment of the study of law, played a large role in my decision to study law at Ohio State.”
- “When we read about songs of the American Civil War, Tom sang the tunes while playing the guitar.”
- “Dr. Taylor introduced us to our nation's history with humor and anecdotes as he made nonsense of my notion that history is boring.”
- “Dr. Taylor . . . surprised me by telling me that I had the best grade in the class. This had never happened to me before and I think he knew it. He encouraged me to keep up on my reading and to study hard for the test so I could maintain my grade. His obvious desire for me to do well is something I easily remember and appreciate.