W. Michael Aust, a professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, has received the university’s 2018 Wine Award for Teaching Excellence.
The William E. Wine Award was established in 1957 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in memory of William E. Wine, Class of 1904, who was a former rector of the Board of Visitors and Alumni Association president. Following a college-level selection process of candidates nominated by students, faculty, and alumni, each college may put forth one nominee. From this group, three faculty members are selected annually. Each Wine Award winner receives $2,000 and automatic induction into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.
Inside the classroom, Aust is described as a dedicated and demanding professor who provides a positive and active learning environment where students are challenged academically and given hands-on experiences. Outside the classroom, Aust is easily approachable and students seek him out for mentoring, advising, and learning opportunities.
“Dr. Aust’s devotion to providing students with the best possible learning opportunities is exceptional. His courses extend beyond traditional classroom lecture and provide ample opportunities for students to gain practical experience in the field. He sacrifices personal time on weekends to lead field exercises that cannot be conducted in proximity to campus,” wrote Charlie Neaves, a former student, in a letter of nomination.
Aust has served on various committees, including the FREC Undergraduate Affairs Committee for 20 years. He was involved in numerous major course, option curriculum, major, and degree revisions. Additionally, he continues to serve on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, Promotion and Tenure Committee, and Facilities Committee.
In 2011, he received the College of Natural Resources and Environment Curriculum Club Award in Teaching Excellence.
— Written by Lindsey Grooms, Class of 2019