Dr. Virginia Rider knows a lot about the value of personal attention in academia.
A biology professor who spent part of her career studying at Arizona State, the Institute of Animal Physiology at Cambridge in England, and teaching at Tufts University in Boston, Rider came to Pittsburg State University through her connections at UMKC - soon discovering that smaller classes and individual attention could make a huge impact on students, as well as on her own career satisfaction.
“The students here are amazing. Out of everywhere I’ve taught, they’re the best I’ve seen,” Rider said. “They’re invaluable as researchers. The cost is a professor’s time up front, but if you’re willing to put in the time, these students will repay you 10 times over.”
This spring, Rider received the Ingram’s Magazine 2012 Icons of Education award, a prestigious recognition shared with only a handful of leading educators from institutions across Kansas and Missouri. “I am honored to receive the Ingram’s Award this year,” she said. “I feel fortunate to work with young people who are passionate about science and want to make a difference in other people’s lives.”
As the campus coordinator for K-INBRE (Kansas IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence), which has invested nearly $1 million in Pittsburg State for undergraduate research projects, Rider has championed for the engagement of undergraduates in real research - efforts that earned her the first Sydney A. McNairy Jr. Award for student mentorship through the National Institutes of Health.
For Rider, the awards are a wonderful recognition of her work. But finding the right university to make a meaningful connection with students is even better.
“One might think it is strange to end up in Pittsburg, Kansas. But for the first time in my career, I am truly happy,” she told Ingram’s. “I am appreciated by the university administration. There are few people who have the pleasure of knowing they are valued during their lifetime.”