Joseph Susi II, a 25-year teaching veteran who knows how to cure what ails you, received Lake Superior State University’s prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award during commencement ceremonies on Saturday.
Susi, who started teaching in the LSSU Athletic Training Education Program in 1992, is a certified athletic trainer and director of the LSSU ATEP, teaching in the LSSU School of Recreation Studies and Exercise Science. Students, faculty, staff and alumni nominated him for the annual award, which, since 1971, has always been kept secret until it is announced during the graduation ceremony.
The award comes as no surprise to Prof. Susi’s students, who have nominated him in the past. They also selected him for the LSSU Excellence in Advising Award in 2014, nominating him for his caring, helpful attitude with his advisees, faculty and staff; his availability and frequency of contact with advisees; his skill at building strong relationships with his advisees while monitoring their progress toward academic and career goals; and his support for students seeking jobs or placements in graduate school after LSSU graduation.
“The characteristics of a distinguished teacher include command of the subject matter, the ability to explain difficult concepts clearly, to be innovative, and share excitement and enthusiasm, while maintaining challenging learning standards,” said Interim LSSU Provost David Roland Finley. “This year’s recipient has a passion for teaching and consistently serves as an excellent role model for students and colleagues. He is always approachable and excels at showing students how to find the answers for themselves. He exhibits excellent ability in the classroom, an enthusiasm and love of the material, and excels at finding innovative teaching methods to bring to his students.”
Susi was further surprised to find out that his parents, Joe and Wanda, had cancelled a trip to Mexico to see him receive his award. They were accompanied by his brother Jon and sister-in-law Karen, all of whom traveled from Prof. Susi’s hometown in central Ohio for the ceremony.
“Thank you everyone. I appreciate the honor,” Susi said upon accepting the award. “The thing that’s hitting me right now is what the speakers have said today…They talked about sacrifice and support, and I have received that from my friends and colleagues, and from my wife Jody….and from my parents, who apparently cancelled their trip to warmer beaches to be here. All of that summarizes the point our speakers have made today. Congratulations to the class of 2017 and thank you for letting me be a part of your day.”
Susi has always encouraged his students to become involved in professional meetings and educational opportunities, and has guided athletic training students to strong finishes in the Student Athletic Training Association Quiz Bowl competitions. LSSU athletic training students, accompanied by Susi and his colleagues, are a regular fixture at Special Olympics winter competitions in the Northern Lower Peninsula, where they assist Special Olympians with medical issues.
Susi holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Northern University in 1988 and a master’s degree from Indiana University in 1989. He earned a doctorate from Michigan State University in 2010. He and his wife, Jody, an LSSU alumna who teaches exercise science at LSSU, live in Sault Ste. Marie.