Distinguished Teaching Award
Deborah Stai, 2003 Recipient
Biology professor Deborah Stai received Lake Superior State University's
Distinguished Teaching Award during annual commencement ceremonies on May
3, 2003 at Taffy Abel Arena.
A biology professor known for her abilities to challenge and instill confidence in her students is the recipient of Lake Superior State University's
Distinguished Teaching Award.
Deborah Stai Ph.D., professor of biology, received the award during commencement ceremonies on May 3 at LSSU. She was nominated by students and
employees and then chosen from a group of nominees by a committee of the five most recent recipients of the award and graduating students with the highest grade
point average in their colleges.
Stai, hired at LSSU in 1991, has a background in microbiology and medical technology. She holds a doctoral degree in clinical microbiology from Union Institute
and a master's degree in biology from Mankato State University. She earned bachelor's degrees in biology and medical technology from Mankato, also.
Before coming to LSSU, she was clinical instructor of microbiology and immunology at University of Wisconsin's School of Veterinary Medicine. She also taught for
six years as an associate professor in the Clinical Laboratory Sciences Department at Ferris State University and worked for several years at Arkansas College and
Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has worked as a medical technologist and enzyme research technologist.
"One of the hallmarks of an LSSU education is personal attention and the relationships that are built through the years between teachers and their students," said
Bruce Harger Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and provost. "Dr. Stai exemplifies that and is able to convey her knowledge with a personal style and
delivery that nurtures the student's desire to learn and explore…All recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award believe in the power of ideas and in the power
of the individual. They truly make a difference in the lives of their students."
This isn't the first time Stai has been nominated for the award. She has been nominated several times in the past at LSSU and was also nominated in 1988 at
"Dr. Stai is always challenging us to be our best and has more confidence in students than we do in ourselves," said one student nominator. "Whenever I think
something can't be done, she gets behind me, pushes a little, and before I know it, I've accomplished something that I didn't think I could."
Another student said alumni have credited Stai for putting them ahead of their graduate school classmates by the preparation she provided for them.
"Dr. Stai not only provides students with a vast amount of information, but she always presents the most current research, which is not an easy task in this
rapidly changing field. She also presents additional information specific to a student's particular career track," said another student.
Other students said Stai's enthusiasm and interest in her profession and fields of study show in her presentation.
"She makes learning fun and always tries to keep students interested by choosing different teaching methods, such as playing "Jeopardy" as a review before
"Dr. Stai and her colleagues represent the heart of our university," said LSSU President Betty J. Youngblood Ph.D. "They are fully committed to our students."
The announcement of the Distinguished Teaching Award was one of the highlights of the 2003 commencement ceremony, which saw more than 750 graduates receive
degrees. The program included presentation of an honorary doctorate to Sault Ste. Marie's W.W. "Frenchie" LaJoie, chairman of the board and CEO of Central Savings
Bank, as well as remarks from student respondent Alice Duesing, LSSU women's basketball standout and co-recipient of the outstanding mechanical engineering student
award. Also during the ceremony, LSSU's Board of Trustees formally installed Youngblood as LSSU's fifth president.
The distinguished teacher is chosen from nominations submitted by LSSU employees and students by a committee of the top graduating students and past-recipients of
the award. The recipient is kept secret until he or she is named at commencement.