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 Good News: SRU honors Merhaut with 'Excellence in Teaching' award 



SRU Good News for March 25, 2009


SRU honors Merhaut with 'Excellence in Teaching' award 


Joseph Merhaut, an assistant professor of special education at Slippery Rock University, has been named recipient of the University's 2009 President's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

       Merhaut, a member of the special education faculty since 2002, was described as, "The best teacher I have ever had," by Brittany Smeltz, a special education major from Monroeville. "He makes sure everyone knows the information of the course and does whatever he can to help you with whatever you need. He is dedicated to having his students succeed. He is not only a great teacher, but a great person," she wrote in her nomination.

            Megan Wislie, an elementary and special education from Natrona Heights, described Merhaut as a "very knowledgeable professor whose desire and commitment to teach is infectious. Knowing that Dr. Merhaut has a daughter with special needs, it was quite evident to witness and understand his passion for special education. Maintaining a classroom that promotes a high degree of student learning and engagement, Dr. Merhaut involved his students in meaningful discussions. His classes are always centered on the students. Dr. Merhaut is not only an excellent professor, but an inspiring mentor to all of his students."

            The award will be presented as part of Slippery Rock University's annual Academic Honors Convocation at 2 p.m. April 5 in Morrow Field House. Convocation will honor more than 2,600 scholars and leaders for their achievements.

Merhaut was cited for his involvement in creating SRU's Assistive Technologies Laboratory in which SRU students, and others, learn how to make use of technology, including computers and other high-tech equipment to help those with learning difficulties. 

            Located in the Jack C. Dinger Special Education Building, the laboratory is funded by a $100,000, four-year grant from the Pittsburgh-based Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust. The trust specializes in funding programs that benefit those with mental retardation.

            Merhaut earned his Bachelor of Science degree at Slippery Rock University, his master's degree from California University of Pennsylvania and his Doctor of Education from Duquesne University.

            He is a former high school principal and teacher and served as an adjunct faculty member at Duquesne and Point Park universities. He has consulted for numerous school districts throughout western Pennsylvania offering ideas for inclusive practices schools can employ to benefit not only mentally challenged students, but their fellow students as well. 


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.


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