Rentner honored by Student Alumni Ambassadors

Rentner-Master-Teacher
At the 2019 Faculty Excellence Awards, Dr. Terry Renter (center) was named the Master Teacher by the Student Alumni Ambassadors. With her were Provost Joe Whitehead (left) and President Rodney Rogers.

Dr. Terry Rentner believes in engaging students both inside and outside the classroom at Bowling Green State University. In fact, she surmises that If students are not engaged, then lifelong learning cannot take place.

For her dedication to her students, Rentner, a professor of journalism and public relations in the School of Media and Communication, has been named the 2019 Master Teacher by the Student Alumni Ambassadors. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize.

The prestigious award allows both graduate and undergraduate students to participate by nominating one of the University’s professors. The Master Teacher Award is the only student-driven and student-selected award given to a faculty member at BGSU. A time honored tradition beginning in 1982, the Master Teacher award is respected by faculty as one of the most coveted honors and recognitions the University.

The process for the award typically begins in the spring semester. A nomination callout is presented to BGSU students, giving them the opportunity to nominate faculty members deserving of this honor at the Bowling Green campus and at BGSU Firelands.

“My teaching philosophy can best be described as an interactive, engaging approach that equips students with what they need to know and what they want to know,” said Rentner, who came to BGSU as a lecturer/instructor in 1987. “I do this by providing a foundation for leadership, cooperation, intellect, mutual respect and personal growth. I also encourage students to challenge themselves to perform to their highest abilities.”

Rentner has been a professor in the Department of Journalism and Public Relations since 2012. She was the director of the School of Media and Communication at the University from 2008 to 2013. Prior to that, she chaired the Department of Journalism from 2004 to 2008. She was named associate professor in 2002 after having been an assistant professor at BGSU from 1996 to 2002.

Her research interests include health communication, social marketing, sports public relations and public relations pedagogy. She incorporates those facets into every face-to-face and online class she teaches, creating a natural fit for life-long learning and engagement.

“As an example, drawing from my research and the campaigns I’ve implemented on this campus, students in my capstone public relations course this semester are developing alcohol social norms campaigns,” Rentner said. “The title of my new co-edited scholarly text, ‘You Make the Call: Case Studies in Sport Communication,’ purposely emphasizes the word ‘you’ in the title to facilitate class discussions on current events in sports, engage students in critical thinking and written assignments, and foster a sense of ownership in the student’s learning process.

Activities in her courses are not exam-based but instead utilize theoretical and applied concepts that help students creatively learn through high-impact activities such as participating in community service-learning projects, developing creative public relations materials and participating in the annual NFL Broadcast Boot Camp, which she helped facilitate in bringing to BGSU.

“Students are given the latitude to creatively apply theory, conduct research and execute industry best practices to solve real-world issues,” Rentner said.

She has twice been a top five finalist for the Master Teacher Award, served for 20 years as adviser to the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), and is co-founder of the Richard Maxwell project. Rentner is a health communication scholar and developer of social norms programming at the University. Her work as a principal or co-investigator in college student health has led to more than 20 state and federal grants totaling $1.5 million. Her primary research focuses on alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug misuse, while her secondary research explores issue in public relations teaching. She has received state and national awards for her health communication campaigns, including one from the U.S. Department of Education that named the BGSU’s peer-focused alcohol program as one of eight top programs in the country.

In the classroom, Rentner experiences profound satisfaction when students engage in respectful class discussions, connect course concepts to their lives and future livelihood, and feel empowered by their own learning.

“It is the appreciative phone call, email, card or letter that I receive from students who graduated three days ago or 30 years ago that gives me a tremendous sense of personal fulfillment,” she said. “It is the pride I feel when students say I touched their lives in some meaningful way, whether through the skills they learned, the internship or job I helped them get, the courage to tackle graduate school or the mentorship they say I provided throughout their college days.”

Watching her former students flourish in their careers and seeing them contribute to their communities is tremendously satisfying, Rentner said.

For her, teaching doesn’t stop in the classroom.

“For me, teaching must continue outside of the classroom through advising, mentoring, internship opportunities, resume critiquing, networking opportunities and serving as adviser to student professional organizations,” said Rentner, has presented more than 50 conference papers and published refereed journal articles in myriad high-level publications. “My teaching philosophy goes beyond the classroom itself to incorporate the overall wellness of the student. I believe that students can’t succeed if they aren’t mentally, emotionally, physically and socially healthy, which is why my areas of research intersect with my teaching.”

Rentner said the responsibility to create an environment that fosters respect for others’ opinions while exploring new and novel ideas to individuals falls on her shoulders.

“This is accomplished by creating a highly interactive environment that begins the first time students step into my classroom or my office for academic and career advising and continues through graduation and beyond.,” she said.  

In her opinion, a “Master Teacher” has to be able to recognize that each student is on a unique educational journey, and the educator’s role is to enrich that journey.

“A Master Teacher embraces equity, diversity and inclusion in the classroom and integrates those values into course materials so students become champions of change in an increasingly diverse world,” Rentner said. “A Master Teacher is engaging, supportive, kind, approachable and available. They are also knowledgeable, challenging, respectful and reflective. Master Teachers are open to diverse ideas and opinions and serve as role models to students and exemplars to colleagues.

“Master Teachers always seek to be more effective in the classroom. Those educators still wake up after 30 years with the same enthusiasm to teach as they had on the first day they walked into a classroom.”

Rentner came to BGSU after working in TV, radio and public relations. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from BGSU in 1995 after having earner a Master of Arts in mass communication in 1988 and a Bachelor of Science in journalism in 1982, both from the University. She has served as a PR consultant since 1987.