Joseph Moritz, professor of animal and nutritional sciences at West VirginiaUniversity, has been selected as one of five finalists for West Virginia Professor of the Year by the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia.
Each year, the foundation honors an outstanding faculty member at a West Virginia college or university with the designation. The winner will be announced at a reception on March 13 in Charleston.
“Joe is an extraordinary faculty member whose work and commitment translate teaching, research and service into action,” said Dan Robison, dean of the WVU Davis College of Agriculture,Natural Resources and Design. “He makes a difference in the classroom, on the farm and in the community. He inspires current and future scientists and truly enables us to achieve the land grant mission.”
For Moritz, being named a finalist for the prestigious award could best be described as “surreal.”
“I consider my teaching, research and extension programs to be continual works in progress, so I’m very touched and honored to represent WVU and my college as well as WVU Extension,” Moritz said.
“I have been very fortunate to work with amazing undergraduate and graduate students, as well as colleagues during my 14.5 years at WVU. My successes have much to do with them and the support I have received from the university.”
Born in Rochester, Pennsylvania, Moritz grew up on a hobby farm that included sheep, goats, horses, and a variety of poultry.
While pursuing his bachelor’s degree in biology from Washington and Jefferson College, he was encouraged to pursue graduate education in animal science.
“Poultry nutrition training seemed a logical choice due to the popularity of poultry protein and likely importance of poultry to feeding an ever increasing population,” Moritz said.
After earning a master’s in animal science from Ohio State University, Moritz completed his doctorate at Kansas State University where he focused on feed manufacturing.
After arriving at WVU in 2002, Moritz quickly became one of the Davis College’s most popular professors.
Enrollment has steadily increased in his poultry science courses and he has designed and developed new courses that engage all animal and nutritional sciences students.
Over the years, Moritz has been recognized by the WVU Davis College and Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences as an outstanding teacher
In 2016, Moritz instructed five classes and was the major professor to four students who successfully completed their master’s degrees. With a focus on applied poultry sciences, his research laboratory brought in outside funding, published three peer-reviewed papers, and had four other peer-reviewed papers accepted.
Even with those accomplishments under his belt, in his mind, it’s only about the students.
“I am most proud of two of my graduate students,” he said. “They both received awards for their excellent paper presentations at the Poultry Science Association national meeting. There are few things more gratifying than observing student success.”
A $10,000 cash award is given to Professor of the Year, with the other finalists receiving $1,000 each.
The four other finalists are Jeffrey Bolton, mechanical engineering technology, Bluefield State College; Joseph Horzempa, natural sciences and mathematics, West Liberty University; Phillip Rutherford, history, Marshall University; and Peter Ward, biomedical sciences, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
The Faculty Merit Foundation was created in 1984 to recognize and reward innovation and creativity among faculty at West Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities.