Finalists named for BVU’s 2024 George Wythe Award

The recipient of the award, which was endowed by the late Paul and Vivian McCorkle, receives a sabbatical and a $30,000 stipend for faculty development.

The following four faculty members have been named finalists for the 2024 George Wythe Award for Excellence in Teaching at Buena Vista University:

•    Dr. Brad Best, Professor of Political Science
•    Ms. Jennifer Hecht, Associate Professor of Accounting
•    Ms. Marian Riner, Program Director and Assistant Professor of Social Work
•    Dr. Sarah Schlichte, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences

Best, who has 22 years of experience at BVU, served as BVU’s Director of General Education for over a decade and directs the University’s involvement in The Washington Center for Internships & Academic Seminars. Perhaps best known on campus for expertise in politics, Best remains a source for reporters across Iowa, the U.S., and the globe as they cover the Iowa Caucuses and more. His commentary is rooted in theory and the history of empirical work in the field.

Hecht, who holds CPA, CMA, CLU, and ChFC designations, is in her eighth year at BVU. Prior to BVU, she worked at Deere & Co. for 13 years in various roles in Accounting & Finance and at Northwestern Mutual for six years as a financial advisor. Her experience at a global Fortune 100 company provides many real-world examples to use in the classroom. A 2019 McCorkle Fellow, Hecht returned with students the following year to Madagascar, exploring the biodiversity of the island, learning about the Malagasy culture, and participating in the different programs at the Center ValBio. Hecht grew up in Storm Lake and works to connect students to the local community through organizations such as BV Buddies, Storm Lake Rotary, and the Storm Lake United Methodist Church Youth Group.

Riner, in her fifth year at BVU, has 24 years of experience in social work. In March 2021, she worked with the University’s Student Association of Social Workers to develop, build, and open Jane’s Closet in Swope Hall. Jane’s Closet has helped hundreds of individuals and recently began serving Buena Vista County Head Start and Storm Lake Community School District in addition to children in the foster care system. Riner was awarded Faculty Member of the Year for 2021-22. 

Schlichte, a 2017 graduate of BVU, is in her third year at BVU. As an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Science, she takes great joy and pride in enlightening students about the wonders of human anatomy and physiology through interactive lectures and activities such as the cadaver lab. She further enhances the student experience through her role in helping to plan, organize, and promote the Undergraduate Rural Medicine Education and Development (URMED) and Rural Health Fellowship (RHF) programs to foster and encourage transformational educational experiences in rural healthcare.

Dr. Annamaria Formichella, Professor of English, chairs the 2024 Wythe Award Selection Committee. Formichella is joined by: Beth Blankers, Professor of Accounting and Assistant Dean, Harold Walter Siebens School of Business; Dr. Lucas DeWitt, Associate Professor of Education; Dr. Brittney Dinkel, Assistant Professor of Biology; and Dr. Gail Hartsock, Associate Professor of Mathematics.

The recipient of the George Wythe Award, which was endowed by the late Paul and Vivian McCorkle ’59, receives a sabbatical and a $30,000 stipend for faculty development. The winner will be announced at BVU’s Annual Faculty and Staff Recognition Celebration in May.

More information about the award, as well as a complete list of past winners, can be found at