Medical school professor to receive Joe and Jean Hendricks Excellence in Teaching Award

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man in a suit stands in front of a building
Dr. Balint Kacsoh. Photo by Jessica Gratigny

Finalists named from College of Professional Advancement, School of Law, School of Engineering and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

School of Medicine professor Dr. Balint Kacsoh is this year’s recipient of the Joe and Jean Hendricks Excellence in Teaching Award, which will be presented at Mercer University’s medical school commencement on May 4.  

The annual Hendricks Award recognizes a full-time teacher who best exemplifies the qualities that distinguished siblings Joe and Jean Hendricks as teachers and mentors to generations of Mercer students. These include challenging and inspiring teaching in and out of the classroom, active engagement of students in the process of learning, discovery and leadership, as well as caring mentoring to motivate students and junior faculty to achieve their highest aspirations.  

“Dr. Kacsoh is fully deserving of this recognition,” School of Medicine Dean Dr. Jean R. Sumner said. “All who know him or have had the opportunity to be in his presence recognize his innate ability to set high expectations for students and colleagues in a supportive, confidence building and inspirational manner.” 

Dr. Kacsoh is a professor of histology and physiology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. He has served on the faculty at Mercer since 1992 and has extensive knowledge in histology, molecular and cellular biology, anatomy, embryology, and physiology. 

“He delivers the most difficult material in a manner that is understandable while fostering in the learner a curiosity and commitment to continue exploration of the material,” Dr. Sumner said. “He helps the student physician learn to never be satisfied with the known and to strive to search for a deeper understanding and relevance. He inspires all who have the opportunity to work with or learn from him to strive for understanding through education.” 

Caring about students as individuals is the centerpiece of Dr. Kacsoh’s teaching philosophy. He individualizes his teaching as the setting permits and is always available to students. 

“I never lose sight of the fact that teachers are role models to students, and, therefore, my conduct and attitudes matter,” he said. “Professors’ care for students echoes physicians’ care for patients. The principle of ‘do no harm’ is a core value of both.” 

He uses stories and occasionally humor to help students retain teaching points. He encourages students to be active learners through problem solving and the Socratic Method, which promotes critical thinking. 

Dr. Kacsoh has received numerous teaching honors while at the School of Medicine. Those include the Outstanding Faculty Award, Outstanding Basic Science Faculty Award and Hooding Award. In 2019, he was named the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Anna N. Walker Teaching Award. 

“I am truly humbled to be the recipient of the Joe and Jean Hendricks Excellence in Teaching Award,” he said. “I was already humbled by being nominated for the award and didn’t expect to receive it. There are so many committed and outstanding teachers in every school at Mercer that the selection committee must have a difficult time choosing the recipient each year. 

“The recognition creates high expectations, and I don’t know if I can live up to those. I can only promise to work for and with our students to the best of my abilities.” 

Born and raised in Hungary, Dr. Kacsoh holds an M.D. from Semmelweis University of Medicine in Budapest, Hungary, and a Ph.D. in medical sciences/endocrinology/physiology from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He came to the U.S. at age 27 and has been teaching since 1979. 

“In small group with Dr. Kacsoh, the thing I most vividly remember and still so appreciate is how he skillfully fostered the most dynamic and engaging learning environment I have ever been a part of,” said Hannah McQueen, who will graduate from the medical school in May. “Dr. Kacsoh’s materials were unmatched in quality — the lecture materials, the small group activities and the practice questions were clear, incredibly helpful, organized and always prepared me well for exams.” 

The Joe and Jean Hendricks Excellence in Teaching Award, which carries a $5,000 stipend, is named for two of Mercer’s greatest teachers, who are legendary at the University for their dedication to students and for their ability to engage students in transformative learning and discovery.  

Dr. Jean Hendricks, a 1942 graduate of Tift College, earned her Ph.D. from Florida State University, served as chair of the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and was the beloved dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in Atlanta.  

Dr. Joseph Hendricks, a 1955 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned his Ph.D. from Emory University and taught for 32 years in the Freshman Seminar program, which he and his sister were instrumental in creating. He also founded the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and taught for years in the Department of Religion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

Meet the finalists 

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Dr. Lynn Clemons

Dr. Lynn Clemons is a professor of organizational leadership in the College of Professional Advancement. As chair of the leadership studies department, she leads the undergraduate and graduate degree programs and develops curriculum for Mercer’s non-degree workforce leadership development programs. This academic year, she launched a collegewide mentoring initiative designed to enhance the success of the college’s newest faculty members. 

Dr. Clemons has served Mercer for 30 years, and in that time, she has been recognized as a Georgia Governor’s Teaching Fellow and recipient of the College of Professional Advancement’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Association for Continuing Higher Education South Region’s Distinguished Program Award.  

She earned a Doctor of Education from Nova Southeastern University, a Master of Arts in human resource management from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Georgia.

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Daisy Floyd

Daisy Floyd is the University Professor of Law and Ethical Formation in the School of Law. She joined the faculty at Mercer in 2004, serving as dean from 2004-2010 and again from 2014-2017. As a professor, she has taught core and upper-level required courses and meaningful upper-level electives. She also frequently serves as faculty advisor for students writing for the Mercer Law Review. 

In her classes, Floyd intentionally creates an environment of mutual respect where students are challenged and supported. She encourages students to participate in class discussion and uses group work to foster a collaborative and cooperative learning environment. A mentor to students, alumni and faculty, Floyd has received several teaching awards throughout her career. 

She earned her law degree from the University of Georgia and a Master of Arts in political science from Emory University.

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Dr. Philip McCreanor

Dr. Philip McCreanor is professor and chair of environmental and civil engineering in Mercer’s School of Engineering, where he also directs the honors program. Over his 25 years at the University, Dr. McCreanor has taken on projects that have increased the profile of the engineering school. 

These projects include creating an event that would go on to become BEAR Day, revitalizing and increasing enrollment of the engineering school’s honors program, engaging students in research focused on graywater reuse, and collaborating with the College of Education to develop a STEM curriculum. Dr. McCreanor also leads Go Baby Go, in which engineering honors students adapt toy cars for children with limited mobility. 

Dr. McCreanor holds a Ph.D. in environmental engineering and Master of Science in environmental science from the University of Central Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Miami.

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Caryn Seney

Dr. Caryn Seney is a professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She joined the faculty in 1996 and since then, has mentored numerous students and junior faculty members. She engages students in the classroom and research lab, using storytelling to foster learning and discovery. Dr. Seney models the skills she learned working with mentors like Dr. Joseph Hendricks, who taught her to reach all students in the classroom, regardless of background, and to work determinedly to ensure their success as citizens.

At the University, Dr. Seney has won several teaching awards, including Excellence in Teaching from the Mercer chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Mercer Student Government Association’s Faculty of the Year, and the Southern Conference Faculty of the Year. In spring 2023, two of her former research students were selected for the prestigious National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program. In addition, two of her current research students were selected to participate as Amgen Scholars at the California Institute of Technology in summer 2023.

Dr. Seney earned her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Wake Forest University and Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Centre College in Kentucky. 

 

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