Turner's Breakfast of Champions Inspires Faculty and Students

By:    Brandon Pytel
Date: March 9, 2018

The Darwin T. Turner Scholars Breakfast of Champions recognizes faculty and staff members who contribute to the academic, personal and professional success of students at UC. Two mechanical engineering professors were honored for their continued support and mentorship of CEAS students.

Students with their Breakfast of Champions nominees.

Students stand with their Breakfast of Champions nominees. From left to right: Allyn Phillips, Paige Johnson, Meaghan Diehl and Wei Wang.

Professors at the University of Cincinnati (UC) are more than just teachers. They are mentors, shaping the personal and professional success of their students. After five years at the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), engineering students walk away with a handful of these mentors who have guided them through their academic experience and prepared them for life after graduation. These relationships between students and professors are a cornerstone of the college experience.

The Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program puts on their annual Breakfast of Champions to recognize those staff and faculty who have had a lasting positive influence on students at UC. Students in the scholars program get to nominate one professor each year who shaped their success.

This year’s Breakfast of Champions, held on February 22, honored many highly regarded professors, including two from CEAS’ mechanical engineering program: Wei Wang, PhD, and Allyn Phillips, PhD.

“This honor means a lot to me,” said Wang, who was nominated by Meaghan Diehl, one of the students in his solid mechanics class. “I always believe that students’ success is my success, and I am glad to contribute to their success.”

“This honor is especially touching because, as a professor, I am the one assigning homework, tests and grades,” said Phillips, who was nominated by Paige Johnson, a third-year student in the mechanical engineering program. “In essence, I’m the one giving work to students. It is very rewarding to have a student like Paige appreciate the challenge.”

Part of the Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program’s goal is to enrich the educational environment for undergraduate students by supporting the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups with high potential for academic success. This retention would not be possible without the contributions of faculty like Wang and Phillips.

Paige Johnson, who had Phillips for two classes, talked of her experience with him. “Dr. Phillips approaches teaching with a new way of looking at things—a way that all students can grasp,” she said. “I appreciate the way his classes always put learning first.”

But it’s not only what’s in the classroom that counts. These professors transcend the traditional academic experience by shaping it into something more.

“Paige is always in a good mood, so it is a pleasure when she comes to my office hours,” said Phillips. “At times, these academic discussions morph into discussions about life. These moments are so important in making a student more than simply a name on a page.”

The Turner Breakfast of Champions highlights the importance of the faculty-student relationship at UC and inspires professors to keep up the good work. “I feel so encouraged,” said Wang, talking of the nomination. “I will be dedicating myself to teaching, not just for now but for the rest of my life.”

The program also gives students the chance to recognize those professors who have helped them grow and develop at UC. “I am grateful that, as a proud Turner Scholar, I can show how much I appreciate my professor’s hard work and dedication through the Breakfast of Champions,” said Johnson. “Each Breakfast of Champion nominee has made me a better student.”

For more information about the Turner Scholars Program and other programs that embrace the ever-increasing diversity of the UC campus, visit the Office of Ethnic Programs & Services website