Continuing work to elevate learning on the SUNY Oswego campus and across academia has earned John Kane, director of the college’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and a professor of economics, a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.

Kane consistently has demonstrated “dedication and unparalleled skill in supporting excellence in teaching at SUNY Oswego, within SUNY and beyond,” wrote nominator Kristin Croyle, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

In addition to excelling as a teacher, scholar and mentor since joining SUNY Oswego in 1983, Kane’s commitment to leadership in CELT -- especially in helping faculty adapt quickly when the pandemic forced remote teaching in spring 2020 -- received praise from supporters.

Kane “used his expertise in developing faculty to be excellent teachers to facilitate the pivot of the 500 plus faculty at SUNY Oswego and beyond to remote teaching in March 2020,” Croyle wrote. “John recognized what a tremendous challenge this would be for the majority of the faculty at our institution who teach solely face-to-face and our students who prefer that modality and would have limited technological access participating in class from home.”

In the span of just 10 days before Oswego resumed operations with remote instruction after the 2020 spring break, “CELT led 26 workshops that faculty could participate in face-to-face, remotely or watch later that gave them the support and tools they would need to begin the pivot to remote instruction,” Croyle noted, with Kane ultimately leading hundreds of faculty through a transition that continued into the following academic year. “Though I know that he literally worked night and day through March and then through the summer to take this on, his efforts have provided the firm foundation that so many of us needed.”

Connecting educators

As director of CELT since 2008, Kane “has provided services to Oswego that far exceed the expectations for this position,” wrote fellow economics professor Elizabeth Schmitt, who also chairs the college’s Faculty Assembly. “Under his leadership, John has expanded the volume and variety of programming through workshops, reading groups and podcasts.”

“Tea for Teaching,” a podcast Kane co-hosts with Rebecca Mushtare, the associate director of CELT, features national experts on higher-education pedagogy -- the method and practice of teaching -- and is nearing its 200th episode. It began in 2017 when Kane and Mushtare were looking for another effective avenue to advise SUNY Oswego faculty on successful teaching techniques, but has since gained an international audience.

“John is a leader in pedagogy and the use of technology in teaching and learning, but John is best known for creating pathways to share this knowledge so all faculty can improve their teaching,” wrote SUNY Oswego Chief Technology Officer Sean Moriarty.

“John is always focused on helping the student first, realizing and understanding the cost constraints that technology can have on students,” Moriarty said. “John reads and researches extensively, as well as talks to and interviews the leading experts in these fields. John utilizes and experiments with these technology tools and techniques with his students. Because of John’s vast experience and expertise, this gives John incredible credibility throughout his profession.”

Spearheading burgeoning Spring Break Out and Winter Break Out sessions, which range from teaching techniques to new technological tools to other skills development to ways to preserve health and wellness, Kane has developed a successful and inclusive program for Oswego employees.

“In the 2019-2020 academic year alone, CELT offered over 250 workshops with over 3,000 attendees, a 200 percent increase since 2008,” Schmitt noted.

“I don't think we have anyone on our campus who works harder than John Kane and means more to the professional development of our faculty when it comes to teaching and learning,” Associate Provost Rameen Mohammadi wrote. 

“John is passionate about this topic and lives and breathes thinking about ways that we can help faculty get better,” Mohammadi said. “He believes in the effective use of tools in the classroom and in support of the learning process. He believes in sound research-based approaches that are effective in helping students learn. He has been effective in breaking the myths about how people learn, their learning styles and other misconceptions that get in the way of improving student learning.”

Innovative teaching

This devotion to technology that can empower and bring out the best of students translates into Kane’s own classes.

“In upper-division courses his students are engaged in writing a book, creating wikis or podcasting and many other high-impact activities to learn,” Mohammadi noted. “He learns to use tools with significant research behind them and selflessly shares everything he learns with all of his colleagues to help them.” 

Kane’s scholarship and research has earned awards as well, including the January 2020 John Ward and Michael Piette Research Prize, recognizing highly cited forensic research conducted by Kane and now-retired economics colleague Larry Spizman. 

He also has contributed to top journals including Economics of Education Review, the Journal of Forensic Economics, the Journal of Human Resources and the Journal of Economic Integration, and organized conference sessions in econometrics (the statistical and mathematical analysis of economic relationships) and labor economics for the Eastern Economic Association, the latter often involving Oswego alumni. 

Kane holds his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in economics from Stony Brook University, as well as a bachelor’s in economics from King’s College in Pennsylvania. From the time he joined SUNY Oswego in 1983, “One consistent theme throughout my career has been a focus on exploring ways in which computer technology can make our lives more productive and efficient and sharing what I’ve discovered with others,” Kane wrote.

On the campus level, Kane poured this passion into his work from his first day on the job and later chairing the Oswego Campus Technology Advisory Board for several years.

“From his early years, John used his roles on campus technology advisory boards and computing services committees to shape the development of instructional technologies at Oswego and provide support in its use,” Schmitt noted. “With his work on campus technology committees and advisory boards, John pushed the wiring of the campus for ethernet connectivity, instructional technologies in the classroom and, for years prior to the full development of Campus Technology Services, served as the unofficial technical support for users all over campus.” 

That commitment also has made him a leader in the SUNY system, where he currently chairs the Faculty Advisory Council on Teaching and Technology (FACT2) and leads some of its task groups. Previous FACT2 chair Jeffrey Riman of the Fashion Institute of Technology praised the “positive spirit of collaboration, serious rigor and innovation” Kane brings to all his efforts. 

“His seemingly boundless capacity to work as a colleague, faculty member and fierce advocate for continuous qualitative progress and growth is now legendary,” Riman wrote. “Never one to accept commonly held knowledge as fact, he continually challenges the status quo in thoughtful and probative ways that elevates the outcome of almost every effort. His accomplishments as a leader and an academic not only provide ample evidence of his skills but they also have helped foster a more collaborative culture amongst his council colleagues.”