College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Chemistry professor’s enthusiasm spreads to students

Jason Ritchie, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is the recipient of the College of Liberal Arts’ 21st annual Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen.

“Jason Ritchie brings an enthusiasm for teaching to his courses, coupled with a knack for making difficult material comprehensible,” said liberal arts Dean Glenn Hopkins. “Our freshman science instruction is in good hands.”

Ritchie said he is pleased and honored that his freshman students nominated him for the prestigious award.

“I genuinely enjoy teaching freshman chemistry classes,” said Ritchie, who joined the chemistry department faculty in fall 2000. “Students often come to my classes with preconceptions that chemistry is boring and difficult. I try to increase their level of excitement through in-class demonstrations — especially energetic explosions.”

Before joining the UM faculty, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned his doctorate in inorganic chemistry from the University of Texas and his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego.

“[Professor Ritchie] has gone out of his way throughout the year to help each and every student in every way possible,” one student wrote in a nomination letter. “He forces us to challenge ourselves but provides an excellent environment to do so.”

The award is named in honor of Cora Lee Graham of Union City, Tenn., who established an endowment in 1984 to “help retain better professors who teach the freshman classes” in the College of Liberal Arts. Criteria for the Graham Award include excellence in classroom instruction, intellectual stimulation of students and concern for students’ welfare.