2015 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award

School of Business Instructor/Alumna Rebecca Ranucci Honored as University’s Top Teaching Assistant

A School of Business teaching assistant, who is known for both her academic rigor and willingness to help students, has received the 2015 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award from UConn’s Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Rebecca Ranucci, a fifth-year doctoral student in the Management Department, was honored at a ceremony Wednesday.

Professor and Ph.D. Coordinator David Souder has lauded Ranucci’s professionalism and work habits in the six courses she has taught since spring 2012, adding that she has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the educational mission of the university.

“More than our other doctoral students, she imposes high standards for learning,” he said. “I have reviewed the teaching evaluations of our doctoral students extensively and Rebecca scored highest when students were asked, ‘How much did you learn?’ and ‘How hard did you work?’ ”

She has taught a senior-level strategic management course, which Souder described as a critical aspect of the curriculum but one for which undergraduate students lack context. “Rebecca has the ability to help students love the course despite the need to step outside their usual comfort zone,” he said.

Rebecca Ranucci

Ranucci, who was the valedictorian for her MBA class and was inducted in the School of Business Hall of Fame in 2005, said she has high expectations of her students for a reason.

“Because I have an MBA from UConn, I think it is my responsibility to protect the integrity of the degrees awarded here,” she said. “I want employers to know that if someone earned a degree from the University of Connecticut, it means something. In my class, if a student earns an A, he or she has earned an A!”

Ranucci successfully defended her dissertation on April 8 and has accepted a teaching job at Southern Connecticut State University for the fall semester. In addition to her UConn MBA, she earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Providence College in 2000. She has worked for CIGNA, Aetna and for the U.S. military in Germany. She completed her doctoral program while raising three young children.

Ranucci designs assignments that allow students to analyze organizations they admire or would like to work for, connecting the course material to their interests and enhancing their interview preparation.

“I aim to prepare them for life outside the classroom by supporting and encouraging their ideas and participation while also challenging them to achieve a higher level of thinking, analysis, synthesis and evaluation,” she said.

She also lets the students help shape the class. At mid-semester she formally polls the students to see what they want to learn more about. Ranucci actively seeks faculty guidance, attends TA workshops and revises her syllabus frequently, incorporating feedback from the prior semester, drawing in current examples and applications and improving assignments.

She had previously been recognized for extraordinary commitment to and effectiveness in teaching by the School of Business’ Management Department. “Rebecca has excellent interpersonal skills, she is approachable and takes time to listen carefully to what others are saying,” said Associate Dean Sulin Ba and Ph.D. Program Director Nancy Crouch in their recommendation.

In her teaching evaluation, students describe Ranucci as a very happy person who makes class more fun, is accessible and genuinely cares about her students’ success.

“She was very clear in her lectures and made this course much simpler than it seemed at the beginning; she put me at ease and helped me to enjoy the class,” wrote one of her students.

A press release announcing the award appeared in the Farmington/Community section of the Hartford Courant on 4/27/15.

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