Karl Gude Recognized for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Karl with his wife, Dorsey Weber Gude, who works at MSU in PlannedGiving.

When Karl Gude was working as the Director of Infographics for Newsweek and the Associated Press, he never thought to try his hand at teaching. But when ComArtSci’s School of Journalism called, his life suddenly changed. Eleven years later, Gude has won the 2016-2017 award for Quality in Undergraduate Teaching from the MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan— basically, Teacher of the Year.

Creative Excellence

Gude was presented with the honor last week at the university-wide faculty awards ceremony. He shares the award with professor Patrick Dillon, Ph.D,. from the Department of Physiology.

“I saw Professor Dillon speak at the award ceremony and he was so engaging I immediately wished I could be one of his students,” said Gude. “I feel this way about many of my teaching colleagues.”

Gude is known for his creativity, specifically in his Creative Processes class, which enrolls over 400 students each semester. He’s also the director of Media Sandbox, where he takes students with different majors and skills, puts them into teams and sends them off to help professionals solve their communications challenges.

Gude was nominated by Lucinda Davenport, director and professor in the School of Journalism. She admires how Karl is passionate about every one of his students and how he goes out of his way to be both inclusive and imaginative with his teaching methods.

“Karl is among a great cohort of faculty in the School of Journalism and the College of Communication Arts and Sciences who try hard, and succeed, in their efforts to help students think outside the box and achieve their dream job,” said Davenport. “He continually strives to experiment with new ways to teach students and makes course content directly relevant to their lives and futures.”


Karl holding his award next to Dean Prabu David and Lucinda Davenport.

Not Your Average Professor

Those who’ve taken a class with Gude know that his teaching style isn’t traditional. In his massive course on creativity, no two classes are the same. Gude will lead hundreds of students on a guided meditation to reconnect with their fearless inner toddler one day and take them out on a field to play games they invented in class the next. Gude mixes these creative exploration exercises with more serious activities, like finding innovative solutions for bullying and foster care. He believes that everyone is creative, and he makes sure his classroom is a playful space where new ideas are always accepted.

“One of the things that makes a teacher effective is when they genuinely care about their students, even when there are 450 of them,” said Gude. “Students can sense that, and it matters to them.”

And care he does. Gude makes sure his classes revolve around his students by working hard to live up to their expectations, and he does his best to nurture their creativity throughout the semester. It’s techniques like these that made him this year’s choice for Quality in Undergraduate Teaching.

By Katie Kochanny