Chemistry professor named McCoy Professor at Marietta College

Kevin L. Pate, Ph.D., an assistant professor of chemistry, has been named a McCoy Professor at Marietta College. The most prestigious teaching award given by the College, designation as a McCoy Professor recognizes Pate as an outstanding teacher.

"McCoy Professors are selected by an outside review committee made up of professors from sister colleges in Ohio who themselves have been recognized for their teaching ability," said Sue DeWine, Marietta College provost. Finalists for the award participate in an extensive review that includes the development of a teaching portfolio, repeated observations of their classroom teaching, and interviews with students in their classes. Pate and the other finalists - Dr. William Bauer, Dr. Dennis Kuhl and Dr. Suzanne Walker - will be recognized at the College's Founders Day celebration on Feb. 9.

Including Pate, there are 16 McCoy Professors on the current faculty: Dr. Mary Barnas, Dr. Jacqueline DeLaat, Dr. Gregory Delemeester, Dr. Carolyn Hares-Stryker, Dr. Peter Hogan, Grace Johnson, Dr. James O'Donnell, Dr. Mabry O'Donnell, Edward Osborne, Dr. Gamaliel Perruci, Dr. Mark Sibicky, Dr. Steven Spilatro, Dr. Michael Taylor, Dr. Ena Vulor and Dr. Matthew Young. The four-year designation, which includes an annual salary supplement, was established in 1993 as part of the McCoy Endowment for Teaching Excellence, which was donated by John G. McCoy, Class of 1935, and his wife, Jeanne.

"To be named a McCoy professor is an enormous honor," Pate said. "Being recognized as one of the best professors at a college with a strong reputation for teaching quality is a true honor and also a testament to the outstanding students I've been blessed with over the last five years. I only hope that I can continue to teach at this high level - and continue to earn this title - for many years to come."

A native of Cortland, Ohio, Pate said being near extended family and finding a teaching position at MC felt like he was "at home."

"The only place I ever wanted to teach was a small liberal arts school like this one," Pate said. "I truly enjoy the moment when a student finally grasps a difficult concept. That moment is a mixture of relief, excitement and pride, and it's the moment that makes teaching a completely satisfying experience."

Along with his department colleagues, Pate voluntarily shares his enthusiasm for science and chemistry with younger students through College-supported community outreach activities, such as National Chemistry Week demonstrations presented at local malls, chemistry "magic shows" for Marietta area students at the College and traveling "magic shows" at local elementary schools, and demonstrations at Young Engineers and Science Day and MC's Space Camp. He is also director of the District 9 Science Fair, a regional competition involving middle school and high school students in Southeast Ohio.

"It's my opinion that all kids are natural scientists because they're curious about everything and they want to know why something works or how something happens," Pate said. "These are the same questions scientists ask on a daily basis, so we're just trying to take advantage of the natural curiosity of young kids to excite them about science and hopefully encourage them to follow careers in the sciences before they learn (or are told) that science is 'too hard.'"

Part of the Marietta College chemistry department faculty since 2001, Pate teaches courses in organic chemistry, advanced organic chemistry, and general chemistry. His research interests include the study of organic reaction mechanisms and solid-state chemistry. He received his doctorate in organic chemistry from Yale University in 2000 and pursued post-doctoral work at Kansas State University. His undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics are from Otterbein College.

Pate and his wife, Michelle, who is a research assistant in biochemistry at Ohio University, live in Vincent, Ohio, with their daughter, Kaylee, 7, a first-grader at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School, and their son, Justin, 2. Outside the classroom, Pate enjoys spending time with his family, and participating in camping and sports. He is also very active with his church, St. Luke's Lutheran, in Marietta.