Mike Gill Wins 2019 Outstanding Teaching Award

Newest chemical engineering instructor receives honor during first year of employment

Mike Gill (center), recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Teaching Award, is congratulated by 2018 recipient Adam Smith (left) and School of Engineering Dean Dave Puleo. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

Each year, the University of Mississippi School of Engineering Student Body selects one engineering faculty member to receive the Outstanding Teaching Award based on excellence in the classroom. The highest honor the engineering school presents to its faculty, the award also includes a $1,000 cash prize.

The award this year went to Michael W. Gill, an instructor in chemical engineering.

“The award is so special to me because it starts with student nominations,” Gill said. “The last award I received in industry was my previous company’s Diamond Award, which is presented to two or three individuals each year for outstanding performance. The faculty teaching award easily rivals that industry award, and it really puts the exclamation point on why it was a great decision to leave industry when I did to join the faculty here at Ole Miss.”

A native of Houston, Mississippi, Gill attended Ole Miss and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1983. He later received an MBA from Queens University of Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2002. He most recently worked for FXI Inc., a foam manufacturer, and AkzoNobel, a paints and coatings manufacturer.

“I’ve thought for many years that teaching would be a fantastic capstone to my career,” said Gill, who joined the UM faculty in fall 2018. “After over 30 years in industry, this position working with both the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence was a perfect fit.”

Gill teaches courses in Chemical Process Safety and in Lean Six Sigma. He also works with seniors from both the chemical engineering department and the CME in their capstone courses.

“I love being around the energy that the students bring with them to class,” he said. “When I see that some of my experiences that I share begin to sink in and make a positive impact on students, then I’ve had a great day. And I have lots of great days here.”

Gill has been an asset to the department, according to chemical engineering faculty and students.

“If you look up ‘hitting the ground running’ in the dictionary, you’ll find Mike Gill’s picture,” wrote an anonymous colleague in his letter of recommendation. “In his first two semesters here, he has established himself as a beacon of help to faculty and students. We are extremely fortunate he chose to continue his work here with us.”

John O’Haver, chair and professor of chemical engineering, said Gill has been “an incredible asset.”

“He is great to work with, brings a wealth of experience, and has worked very hard to help students and contribute to the department,” he said. “We are blessed to have him.”

Students echoed similar praise about Gill’s teaching excellence in their annual teacher evaluations:

“Mike is one of the most caring professors I’ve had during my time at Ole Miss,” wrote one student. “He’s helped with my resume and cover letters and given such great career and life advice. His safety class this semester has been very informative and contains a ton of practical advice for processes.”

Another wrote: “The lessons he has taught me in his safety class are some of the most applicable and valuable lessons I’ve learned at Ole Miss; they will help me protect people from the inherent hazards of working in plants and improve the safety systems of manufacturing settings. Mike Gill visits with students, and in doing so, he builds relationships with them, giving career advice and teaching students lessons by telling them stories of his work experience.”

Involved in community service, Gill works with CME students on projects at the Baddour Center in Senatobia. He also volunteers to help kick-start the Quitman County Career Empowerment Center in Marks.

Gill and his wife, Karen, recently celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary. The couple owns two dogs and two horses. In his spare time, Gill likes to read and enjoys photography and cooking.