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2022 Great Teacher Award winners honored

The UK Alumni Association held a celebration to honor recipients of the 61st annual Great Teacher Award on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the Central Bank Center in Lexington. Six University of Kentucky educators received the 2022 Great Teacher Award. The recipients are:

  • Beth Barnes, College of Communication and Information, Integrated Strategic Communications
  • Zachary Bray, Rosenberg College of Law, Professor of Law
  • Olivia Davis, Gatton College of Business and Economics, Associate Director and Lecturer
  • Jack Groppo, College of Engineering, Mining Engineering
  • Cortney Lollar, Rosenberg College of Law, Associate Professor of Law
  • Beth Rous, College of Education, Educational Leadership Studies

The Great Teacher Award, started in 1961, is the longest-running University of Kentucky award recognizing teaching. In order to receive the award, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Awards Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then made the final selection. Recipients received a $4,000 stipend and were recognized on the floor of Rupp Arena before the LSU vs. Kentucky men’s basketball game that evening. Recipients were notified of their award during surprise visits to their classroom and on Zoom during the winter.

Here is the video honoring the recipients produced by UK Public Relations & Strategic Communications and Marketing & Brand Strategy.

Here’s a closer look at this year’s winners:

Beth Barnes

Barnes is a professor and the director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Integrated Strategic Communication in the College of Communication and Information. She leads the international studies programs for the college and represents it on the university’s International Advisory Council.

Barnes’ specialty areas include international education, media audience measurement, curriculum development and non-profit strategic communication. She worked in advertising and public relations prior to teaching. Barnes teaches the introductory course in the ISC major as well as courses in account management, public relations and sales promotion, and sponsorship. For 13 years she was director of the School of Journalism and Telecommunications. Barnes earned her bachelor’s degree from The College of William & Mary and her master’s in advertising and her doctorate in communication studies from Northwestern University.

Zachary Bray

Bray is a James and Mary Lassiter Professor of Law at the Rosenberg College of Law. A Lexington native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Yale Law School, Bray worked at the University of Houston Law Center before coming to UK as a visiting assistant professor in 2015. He was promoted to full professor in 2020.

Bray’s research focuses on monument law, private land trusts, low-income housing, the Endangered Species Act, groundwater conflicts and religious land use. Bray has taught as a visitor at the Washington University School of Law and The College of William & Mary Law School. He has taught undergraduate students considering law school in the Kentucky Legal Education Opportunity Summer Institute and the University of Houston Law Center Pre-Law Pipeline Program.

Olivia Davis

Davis joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky in January 2018. She was in public accounting with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in the assurance practice before joining UK. As a CPA with nearly 14 years of experience, Davis brings a wealth of practical experience to her classroom.

Davis serves as the faculty advisor for the UK Student Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants and she is a professional member of NABA. She is on the Board of Directors for the Kentucky Society of CPAs. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s in accounting from UK. Davis was awarded the Gatton College Teaching Excellence Award in 2020, the 2021 Gatton College Faculty of the Year (student selected) and the 2021 University of Kentucky Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching. 

Jack Groppo

Groppo is a professor and director of undergraduate studies in mining engineering. The processes he has developed have kept harmful industrial byproducts out of the environment. He is the co-creator of the sustainable campus electronics recycling program at UK and he leads a team of researchers focused on the development of E-waste recycling technologies. He is the developer of the Center for Applied Energy Research “Energy 101” education outreach for local underserved elementary schools providing energy education with hands-on demonstrations.

He is the faculty advisor for the UK Society of Mining Engineers Student Chapter. Groppo earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mining and mineral engineering from Virginia Tech and his doctorate in mining engineering from the University of Kentucky. His research interests include mineral processing, surface chemistry, power generation, and industrial and coal utilization by-product recycling.

Cortney Lollar

Lollar teaches and researches in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence with a focus on the intersections of criminal law, remedies, race, gender, sexuality and social science. She is a James and Mary Lassiter Professor of Law at the Rosenberg College of Law, joining the faculty in 2013. Prior to that, Lollar was a clinical faculty fellow at Washington University in St. Louis.

She has represented adult and juvenile defendants at the trial and appellate level at the Federal Defender Program in Atlanta, Georgia and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. She received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University and her doctorate from New York University School of Law where she was editor-in-chief of the Review of Law and Social Change.  

Beth Rous

Rous has spent her career working to advance knowledge on how people design and lead complex human service systems. She believes that all children have a right to high-quality educational experiences and has generated more than $98 million in grants and contracts to help realize this vision. A professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies, Rous teaches courses in research methods.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in learning disabilities, moderate disabilities and elementary education from Morehead State University; her master’s in special education: interdisciplinary early childhood education; and her doctorate in instruction and administration from the University of Kentucky. Rous serves as a research and policy associate at the Human Development Institute, serving as the founding director for the Kentucky Partnership for Early Childhood Services from 1996-2017.


Below are photos from the recognition dinner on Feb. 23, 2022 at the Central Bank Center. Photos by Tim Webb Photography.


Photo by Elliott Hess, UK Athletics

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 Great Teacher Award recipients were unable to be recognized on the floor of Rupp Arena at a Kentucky men’s basketball game. On Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, the 2021 and 2022 Great Teacher Award recipients were recognized together before the LSU vs. Kentucky men’s basketball game. Pictured above from L-R are: Janie McKenzie-Wells (2020-2021 UK Alumni Association Awards Committee Chair), Clark Kebodeaux, Christopher Crawford, Hannah Myers (2020-2021 UK Alumni Association President), Chad Risko, Mary Shelman (2021-2022 UK Alumni Association President), Wayne Sanderson, Zachary Bray, Beth Rous, Cortney Lollar, Beth Barnes, Olivia Davis, Jack Groppo and Tonya Parsons (2020-2021 UK Alumni Association Awards Committee Chair).

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