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Deans and administrators from each college suggested one of their faculty members who deserves special “kudos” during Faculty Appreciation Week.

Richard HeitmannRichard Heitmann loves helping students learn about UT and animal science.

A professor of animal science in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR), he also serves as his department’s undergraduate program coordinator. In that role, he helps ensure that undergraduate students’ experience gives them the best foundation possible for a career in animal sciences or for further education.

“I like the one-on-one contact with the students and parents, especially when they come for campus visits,” Heitmann said. “I like that interpersonal communication.”

One of Heitmann’s favorite experiences was teaching a First Year Studies course that helped students learn about good nutrition for their cats and dogs.

“I was talking with students that weren’t necessarily science students,” he said. “It was a whole new approach.

“After I got done teaching about behavior and domestication students brought in their own animals or brought in pictures on flash drives and talked about their pets. Questions about their nutrition, health and reproduction arose from the students naturally and it didn’t seem as if they were being lectured to,” he said. “Basically what I learned is you’ve got to turn it over to the students and let them do it.

Richard Heitmann with student“The goal of First Year Studies was to integrate freshmen into college life. I think we did a great job. I am going to volunteer to do that again next year.”

In his 30 years at UT Knoxville, Heitmann also has mentored numerous graduate students and continues to serve on students’ graduate committees. He serves as the faculty adviser for the Pre-Veterinary Association and also teaches upper- division undergraduate courses in animal nutrition and metabolism.

CASNR Dean Caula Beyl said Heitmann is a great asset to his department and to the college.

“With the tremendous growth in enrollment in animal science, he is the unsung hero of so many students,” Beyl said. “He is always available with a receptive ear and he truly knows that students are the heart of the university.”

Heitmann’s awards range from the CASNR Outstanding Faculty Advising Award in 2006 to the Lidvall Outstanding Teaching Award in 2005.

Heitmann earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in animal science from the University of Maine. His research focuses on the processes used by animals to turn food into energy.

In honor of Faculty Appreciation Week, Tennessee Today is featuring stories and videos based on comments about great faculty members submitted by students, alumni and others.

You can send a shout out to your favorite faculty member or read what others have written.

Also this week, area merchants will offer a variety of discounts for UT faculty.