By: Diane Stirling
Academic accolades came in threes this year for alumna Hala Annabi, Ph.D., ’05, now an associate professor of management information systems in The College of Business at Ohio University.
At the end of the spring semester, Annabi was selected as “Ohio University Professor,” a student-nominated recognition accorded just four faculty members each year. She also was appointed as Founding Director of the College of Business Honors Program. Additionally, Hala was recognized with the Ohio University’s College of Business Teaching Excellence Award.
The trio of honors represents Annabi’s highest professional interests: information field research, a passion for teaching students, and an entrepreneurial drive to design and innovate in academia. Those pursuits were seeded in her undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral academic years, Annabi said. She attributes much of her success to her mentors at LeMoyne College and Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool).
Hala came to the United States from Amman, Jordan as a college freshman to study business administration at LeMoyne. She graduated in 1997 with a concentration in management information systems and stayed through 1999 to earn an MBA. She then enrolled in the iSchool’s doctoral program at Syracuse. Professor Kevin Crowston was her faculty advisor and dissertation committee members were Michael D’Eredita, Robert Heckman, and Barbara Kwasnik. She remembers Jeffrey Stanton, Associate Dean of Research and Doctoral Programs, as a teaching mentor, too.
After earning her doctorate, Annabi joined the faculty of the University of Washington iSchool. AT UW, she co-founded the Institute for Innovations in Information Management and taught until 2007, when she joined Ohio University’s College of Business. At Ohio, Annabi has been busy innovating, too. She has helped start the Select Leadership Development Program; the group, Women in Information Systems; and the College of Business Honors Program.
Being chosen for the college’s prestigious faculty award was a particularly meaningful honor because the nomination and selection efforts were entirely student-run, Annabi said. During those processes, she recalled her own student years “with great teachers who were great models. I learned effective teaching techniques and to be a compassionate teacher. It helped me reflect on the things I’m doing, what’s important to me and the way I’m doing it,” she observed.
The faculty award recognition includes the opportunity to design and teach a new course. Annabi has created a seminar for juniors and seniors, “Cognition, Connectivity and Civility.” It is designed to help students “critique our level of connectivity and engagement with the college–and the effects of technology on the workplace, education and society from a social interaction standpoint.” She will teach it with “the scientific attitude”—self-observation and behavior correction based on an objective analysis. It’s a teaching element she learned from Stanton, she explained. The exercise will help students determine a set of principles and policies “that help us capitalize on technology and the functions it provides us, without losing a higher level of cognition and meaningful social relationships,” she explained. Hala joked that the course “is a very iSchool topic.”
The ability to design new academic offerings is part of the “entrepreneurial spirit” Annabi enjoys most, attributable to her iSchool background, she said. “We were continually improving the courses. I think I was probably brought up intellectually and academically in that environment where you’re constantly innovating the next new thing.”
Hala has been surprised by the three-in-a-row accolades, she admitted. “You do your thing; you don’t think about awards. The value that I find in all of this is that in some way, I feel satisfied and content in the fact that I am possibly a [good] teacher. It’s a little way of giving back that I modeled all the teachers, the people who made a difference for me. I feel so lucky and so fortunate to have had all the experiences I’ve had and to accomplish what I have accomplished. I’ve had a lot of good people coming into my life to enable me to do things.”
The Teaching Excellence award brings with it the honor of giving the freshman convocation talk. Annabi will present that on August 25, she chuckled, “almost 19 years to the day” since she herself was at that academic starting point.
An e-mailed note to thank her iSchool faculty mentors summed up all her feelings: “What a year! I feel so blessed! Thank you for the piece you played in making me the person and teacher I am today.”