College announces 2021 Excellence in Teaching, Employee of the Year awards

Professor Liz Klein, staff member Mindy Freed honored

Denise Blough
Elizabeth Klein, Mindy Freed

From left: Liz Klein, Mindy Freed

2021 Excellence in Teaching: Liz Klein

Liz Klein, professor and former interim chair of the Division of Health Behavior and Health Promotion, was honored with the college’s annual Excellence in Teaching Award, joining 19 former recipients who have demonstrated exemplary performance in the teaching mission of the college and university.

Klein, an expert in behavioral epidemiology and the reduction and prevention of tobacco use, was recognized for the individualized time, energy and compassion she invests in each of her many students.

A PhD advisee and project manager for Klein’s research, Elizabeth Mayers, commended Klein for her ability to consistently provide personalized support, especially in terms of work-school-life balance, and for her guidance and diplomacy in navigating complex situations.

“She has always been respectful of my full-time work schedule and personal obligations outside the classroom and has helped me achieve significant progress in my PhD program despite my non-traditional academic path,” Mayers wrote. “I’ve also learned a lot from her problem solving and collaboration style and incorporate many of her strategies into my own work.”

Former Master of Public Health student SuSandi Htut praised Klein for always being accessible and for being a role model for effective communication.

“Dr. Klein was always available to meet for discussions of career goals in public health, recommendations on coursework and strategies to strengthen my portfolio,” Htut wrote. “Now that I have worked as a public health professional for the past five years, I recognize that being a part of Dr. Klein’s research team taught me a great deal about how to work effectively within diverse teams.”

Klein received a bachelor’s in community health education from Western Michigan University, an MPH in epidemiology and biostatistics from the University of California, Berkley, and a PhD in behavioral epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. She is currently in Australia conducting tobacco cessation research under a Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award.

2021 Employee of the Year: Mindy Freed

Mindy Freed, executive assistant to Dean Amy Fairchild, was named the college’s 2021 Employee of the Year.

College leadership nominated Freed for her continuous exceptional efforts overseeing critical functions and processes and managing college COVID-19 response efforts — all while being new to her role.

“In response to fiscal uncertainties created by the pandemic, we left some positions in the college unfilled as they were vacated. Mindy not only took on new responsibilities in my office as my executive assistant, but new responsibilities related to managing both the Safe Campus Subgroup and the Comprehensive Monitoring Team. All the while she has continued to manage her old responsibilities,” Dean Fairchild wrote. “She remains focused and steady in the face of constant surprises, schedule-juggling and emergency meetings to react to ever-changing public health recommendations about COVID-19.”

Fairchild further recognized Freed for her work on the college’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence Committee, which Freed recently co-chaired.  

Added Director of Development Taylor Boyles, “Her leadership was greatly appreciated as we grappled with determining actionable steps in addressing diversity and equity in our college, our community and beyond.”

Misti Crane, director of strategic communications and marketing, and Bill Miller, senior associate dean of research and professor of epidemiology, commended Freed’s unwavering kindness and level-headedness in the face of great challenges, most notably university-wide responsibilities related to COVID-19.

“These responsibilities have demanded significant time, resources and collaboration with partners throughout Ohio State … And she still finds time to lift up others’ days and anticipate their needs, questions and concerns,” Crane wrote. “Mindy enriches our college every single day.”

“She has facilitated, helped and eased tensions. She has cajoled, gently, when necessary. And she’s been available and supportive,” Miller said.

Freed joins 17 past recipients chosen for this honor for their continued dedication to supporting students, faculty, staff and the greater public health community.

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About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond. The College's divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy. It is ranked 29th among all colleges and programs of public health in the nation, and first in Ohio, by U.S. News and World Report. Its specialty programs are also considered among the best in the country. The MHA program is ranked 8th, the biostatistics specialty is ranked 22nd, the epidemiology specialty is ranked 25th and the health policy and management specialty is ranked 17th.