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Fashion and Retail Studies senior lecturer selected for distinguished teaching award

Karen Landino
May 14, 2021

“Teaching is at the center of what we do at Ohio State, and it does not happen unless we have great teachers like you, who are transforming the lives of our students,” said Don Pope-Davis, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology, as he congratulated Alex Ruiz Suer for her outstanding service to students.

As a senior lecturer for the Department of Human Sciences, Suer was honored as one of six selected for the Provost’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Lecturer across all Ohio State campuses. Provost Bruce McPheron presented her award during a surprise Zoom meeting with her friends, family and colleagues in attendance.

Suer was especially touched by the overwhelmingly positive remarks from her student nominators. Tears came to Suer’s eyes as Helen Malone, vice provost for Academic Policy and Faculty Resources, summarized her students’ nomination letters.

“Your students reflected, across all of the nominations and engagements with you, that they found you to be quite enjoyable and supportive,” Malone said. “Every single one of them noted additional engagement outside of the classroom to help them build professional connections and move into spaces outside of the university. They’re so very grateful.”

Suer’s expertise in the Fashion and Retail Studies program

Suer is highly engaged with undergraduates as an instructor in the Fashion and Retail Studies program, a student organization advisor, a mentor in the university’s Second-Year Transformational Experience Program, known as STEP, and more.

She teaches a full course load each year. In the Aesthetics of Fashion and Retail course, she introduces students to the elements and principles of design. In additional courses, she trains students to use technical software to create original clothing designs. She teaches apparel product development and garment manufacturing, illuminating the life cycle of garments from seed to sale as well as apparel brand development.

In the Consumer Sciences 5193 undergraduate research course, Suer works with students individually to support their study of topics such as retail entrepreneurship with a focus on brands they aspire to launch. One of Suer’s successful mentees is alumna Ellen Shirk, who owns Vamp Official located in Columbus’ Short North.

Alex Suer, eight fashion retail students and a New York industry partner at Fashion Scholarship Fund celebration
In 2019, Alex Suer (fourth from left) and Ohio State Fashion and Retail Studies students, including Suer’s award nominator Kallan Imhoff (second from right) and New York industry partner Electa Varnish (fourth from right), attended the annual New York celebration given by the Fashion Scholarship Fund. All eight of Suer’s mentees won scholarships with their applications, a record for one year.

Suer is a faculty advisor for two student organizations, including the Fashion Production Association that provides experience in garment design and construction. Students then plan and fundraise for a fashion design show or public exhibit of their garments each spring. The organization also collaborates with a local charity where the students volunteer during the year.

When President Kristina M. Johnson launched a new program in 2020 called “Together As Buckeyes,” Suer served as faculty lead for Fashion and Retail Studies, ensuring a response to students who need support, for instance in navigating the rigors of coursework in a virtual environment, managing increased stress and anxiety due to the pandemic or finding their place within the university community.

Suer has impressed not only her students, but also others in the Department of Human Sciences. “Your colleagues are inspired by you,” said Professor Erik Porfeli, chair of the department. “You elevate us and demonstrate, in every way, excellence in education.”

Suer was beaming. She said her work allows her to build a sense of community with students who come from a variety of backgrounds and interests. “I'm just honored, and I thank you for all your wonderful, kind words,” she said.

“It is an absolute pleasure and exciting opportunity to form such a close network, doing what I love most – teaching, mentoring and creating connections,” she said. “You've really inspired me to continue on and keep being the best I can be.”

As part of the award, Suer will be inducted into the Academy of Teaching at Ohio State, a prestigious and competitive organization that creates a network for awardees.

Undergraduate students honor their lecturer

Kevon Snodgrass wrote in her nomination that Suer is a wonderful instructor and extremely knowledgeable about her subject matter. “She communicates with her students in a friendly and straightforward way, she wrote. “Her kindness and willingness to engage with students in a meaningful way is something I will never forget.”

“Alex does a great job of connecting classroom learning to the real world,” Snodgrass wrote. “Since Columbus is a major retail capital and she has great connections, her students are offered a rich opportunity to connect with industry professionals in meaningful ways, whether that be as a mentor/mentee relationship or something else.”

Kallan Imhoff agreed. “She is always connecting us with industry professionals, recommending us for interviews with major companies and ensuring we will be just as successful after graduation,” she wrote in her nomination. “Alex accommodates every student’s needs, no matter how minimal or how drastic. She really invests in us as people and as future industry people, not just as students.”

Joannah Dupiano considers Suer an incredible person. “She works extremely hard for the fashion (program),” she wrote in her nomination. “Her personality and ability to connect with students while helping out with multiple organizations is very admirable.”

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