Richard Toomey, an associate professor of chemistry in Northwest Missouri State University's Department of Natural Sciences, has been selected to receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.
The Governor’s Award is presented annually to faculty members from each of Missouri’s four-year higher education institutions. Northwest's recipient is chosen by the Dean’s Council, which includes representatives from each of the university's three academic colleges.
Toomey recently accepted the Dean’s Faculty Award for Teaching from the College of Arts and Sciences and will receive the Governor’s Award during a ceremony in Jefferson City next spring.
A member of the Northwest faculty since 1999, Toomey teaches general chemistry, physical chemistry and laboratory safety courses. He serves as advisor for the Gamma Sigma Epsilon National Chemistry Honor Society and is a member of the American Chemical Society and the National Science Teachers Association.
Northwest Provost Doug Dunham, the university's top academic officer, said Toomey stands out among Northwest faculty members for his dedication to students and to the craft of teaching.
Outside the classroom, Toomey serves on the Student Success Task Force and co-chairs the Academic Success Sub-Committee. He has also chaired the Missouri Academy Faculty Advisory Committee for six years.
Toomey earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry and chemistry education from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He also holds a doctorate in physical chemistry from Brandeis University.
He said being nominated for the Governor's Award by his peers was especially meaningful, and that he takes the responsibility of successfully imparting complex skills and knowledge to students seriously.
"I try to remember what it was like when I was sitting where they are, and how difficult it is, even if it’s their major — or especially if it’s not their major — to learn the material." Toomey said. "I recognize that it’s my responsibility not only to teach them chemistry, but to teach them how to think, how to process information, and how to be better at learning regardless of the context."