Melissa Marks, EdD, associate professor of Education at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, was one of four Pitt faculty members to receive the 2017 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. She was one of 10 members of the University of Pittsburgh’s faculty to be honored with awards that recognize excellence in teaching, research, or public service. Each recipient received a $2,000 prize and a $3,000 grant as part of the award.
This award is one of many that Marks, a resident of Pittsburgh PA, has received since joining the Pitt-Greensburg faculty in September 2002. In 2009, she received the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association’s Outstanding Educator Award. Then, in 2010, she received the Pitt-Greensburg President’s Medal for Distinguished Service in recognition of her work to create the campus’ Secondary Education program, which she now directs. In 2013-2014, she was named Teacher Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for College Teachers of Education (PAC-Te). In 2013-2014, she was also awarded Pitt-Greensburg’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Of particular interest to Marks is multicultural education, which she uses to enrich the studies and lives of the students in Pitt-Greensburg’s Education program. She helped to develop the Spanish Education and Spanish Education/Spanish dual major programs and secure state approval. Marks also created a program that allows students to student teach in New Zealand, thus enabling them to complete an essential component of Pitt-Greensburg’s demanding education program while experiencing a full global experience of learning and working. Teaching a wide variety of courses on campus, including strategies, diversity, social studies methods, and general teacher education courses, Marks’ areas of research include teacher supervision, multicultural education and diversity, and social studies education.
“Dr. Marks’ scholarly activity is aimed at extending our understanding of differences and their effect on how students learn,” said Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of Pitt-Greensburg. “Her Master’s thesis, ‘The Necessity of Multicultural Education in Public School with a Focus on Social Studies,’ informs her commitment to add strong elements of diversity to our Education curriculum. Throughout her 14 years with Pitt-Greensburg, Dr. Marks has brought a passion for her subject, a devotion to her students, a commitment to excellence, and a dedication to make a difference in high schools through the future teachers she nurtures.”
In addition to her many articles and conference presentations, Marks is the co-author of a book on learning how to talk with families about child and adolescent mental illness, which was recently reprinted in Korean. She also developed a program that partners high functioning autistic high school students with college-student mentors to allow them to participate successfully in an introductory course and thus gain the confidence to pursue a college education in an open environment. Marks also serves as co-advisor for the campus chapter of the Student Pennsylvania Education Association.
A graduate of Ohio State University where she earned a BS in Comprehensive Social Studies Education and Secondary Social Studies Certification, Marks went on to earn her Master’s degree and educational doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. Prior to teaching at the university level, she taught social studies to middle school students for 10 years, and this experience shapes what she shares with students in her classes.
Founded in 1963, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a publicly assisted, four-year, liberal arts college in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt-Greensburg offers 28 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in Nursing, Public Policy, Education, and Spanish, as well as 19 minors and five certificate programs. Since 1986, 16 professors have received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching while teaching at Pitt-Greensburg.