Koch to receive President's Award for Engagement With Students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -– Patricia Barthalow Koch, professor of biobehavioral health in the College of Health and Human Development, has received the 2012 President’s Award for Engagement With Students.

The award is given to a faculty member who goes beyond his or her responsibilities to engage and encourage students in learning. The honorees have made themselves available to interact with students outside class, link students to opportunities, and help them build their confidence as learners and potential contributors to society.

Koch’s Penn State career began as an instructor in 1976, while she worked to attain her doctorate. After becoming a faculty member in 1983, she developed Introduction to Health and Sexuality, a general education course that often attracts long lists of students waiting to enroll.

“Although the course is very popular, it also deals regularly with sensitive material that deeply impacts the students’ personal lives,” her nominators said. “It is testament to Dr. Koch’s expert and engaging handling of this topic that every semester students feel comfortable enough with her to come to her seeking a nonjudgmental ear on issues such as health and relationships, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual identity or orientation, or sexual assault.”

For almost 30 years, Koch has worked to train students as campus peer sexual health educators in conjunction with University Health Services or within academic units. She also incorporates peer facilitators in her own large classes so students can meet in smaller groups. “Dr. Koch’s goal in each of her classes is to motivate and provide opportunities for her students to apply what they have learned and develop in contexts outside the classroom,” her nominators said.

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Last Updated April 12, 2012