Dr. Steven Mills, associate professor of Spanish, was named the 31st recipient of the George Wythe Award, BVU's highest honor for excellence in teaching.

June 14, 2017

Dr. Steven Mills, associate professor of Spanish, was named the 31st recipient of the George Wythe Award, Buena Vista University's highest honor for excellence in teaching, at the annual Faculty and Staff Recognition Dinner on May 26.

Mills earned his bachelor's degree in Spanish in 2005 and his master's degree in Spanish literature in 2007 from Brigham Young University (BYU). He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Spanish literature in 2011 at Purdue University. Before becoming a member of the BVU faculty in 2011, Mills worked as a teaching assistant at BYU and Purdue and was an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, Ind.

“I am honored to be recognized for excellence in teaching among others who are so deserving of this award,” said Mills. “It's humbling to know that I'm headed in the right direction as a professor and that my peers and students at BVU felt I was worthy of this prestigious honor.”

The Wythe Award includes a $30,000 stipend and a sabbatical for the recipient to pursue professional development and/or research. Mills plans to use the funds from the award to travel to, and briefly live in, a Spanish-speaking country to experience the culture firsthand and to add to the rigor and breadth of his BVU courses.

In discussing his teaching philosophy, Mills said, “If I had to articulate the truly ineffable reason behind my teaching, it is that I love seeing students' potential and helping them achieve it. I don't just teach students Spanish, I teach them about life and the importance of appreciating new ways of thinking so that they can live in confidence with who they are and what they decide to become.

“Though being the recipient of this year's Wythe Award serves as confirmation that I am on the right pathway, I see the honor merely as a mile marker – not the finish line. I will continue to improve as a teacher and strive toward having an impact on students.”

Dr. Steven Mills

Mills, who was also a finalist for the Wythe Award in 2016, was nominated by fellow professors, professional colleagues, alumni and current students. The other finalists for this year's award were Dr. Gwen Hart, assistant professor of English composition; Dr. Kristy McClellan, associate professor of biology; and Dr. Matthew Packer, assistant professor of English.

In announcing the recipient, Tim McDaniel, assistant professor of mathematics & quantitative business at BVU, noted that, “Dr. Mills' letters of recommendation were beyond glowing in their praise of him and the excellence of execution he brings to his work as a professor at Buena Vista University. This mirrors his reputation as one our very best professors.”

The Wythe Award is endowed through a gift from the late BVU Life Trustee Drs. Paul and Vivian McCorkle (Class of 1958). The award is named for George Wythe, the educator whose students included Thomas Jefferson John Marshall, James Monroe and Henry Clay.

“Though being the recipient of this year's Wythe Award serves as confirmation that I am on the right pathway, I see the honor merely as a mile marker – not the finish line,” added Mills. “I will continue to improve as a teacher and strive toward having an impact on students.”