Dr. Zachary Pruitt is 2018 Excellence in Teaching Awardee

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Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at the USF College of Public Health, have the opportunity to nominate a faculty member in the college for outstanding teaching. The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes the outstanding contributions which a faculty member has made to student development, as well as to the quality of education within the College as a whole.

Presented by the Public Health Student Association (PHSA) during the National Public Health Week Awards Ceremony on April 4, this year’s winner was COPH alumnus Dr. Zachary Pruitt.

PHSA President Dr. Joannie Bewa, Dr. Zachary Priutt and Dean Donna Petersen at the National Public Health Week Awards Ceremony (Photo by Torie Doll).

PHSA President Dr. Joannie Bewa, Dr. Zachary Pruitt and Dean Donna Petersen at the National Public Health Week Awards Ceremony (Photo by Torie Doll).

Pruitt earned his both his MHA and PhD from the USF COPH, and joined the college in 2014 as a visiting assistant professor of health policy and management (HPM). He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on understanding U.S. healthcare, health services management and health care marketing. He also teaches health care systems for USF Health’s Morsani College of Medicine.

“Zac (now known as Professor Pruitt) has consistently been energetic and enthusiastic, bringing expertise from his managed care industry experience,” said Dr. Barbara Orban, HPM professor and MHA program director. “We are grateful to have persuaded him to work with us after finishing his PhD. His recognition for teaching excellence is well deserved and greatly valued by our department and students.”

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Pruitt acknowledged Orban as his mentor and thanked her for encouraging him to find his passion in teaching.

“Teaching for me is at the intersection of things I like and the things I’m good at. It took 20 odd years to figure it out, but teaching just feels right,” Pruitt said.

Dr. Zachary Pruitt animating his speech about the intersection of things he like and things he’s good at during the National Public Health Week Awards Ceremony (Photo by Torie Doll).

Dr. Zachary Pruitt animating his speech about the intersection of things he likes and things he’s good at during the National Public Health Week Awards Ceremony (Photo by Torie Doll).

“He motivates and encourages students to be the best academically and professionally,” said Dr. Joannie Bewa, MPH student and president of PHSA. “Students say that he is the glue that holds and keeps them engaged, while also keeping them wanting to come back to the COPH.”

Prior to entering academics, he directed Medicaid operations for a small Florida health plan and managed policy and compliance projects for a large publicly-traded managed care organization.

Pruitt’s research interests include the examination of health care costs, quality, and access among those insured by Medicaid, health care management applications, patient navigator programs, and the integration of medical and social care for vulnerable populations.

“Dr. Pruitt is such an energetic and devoted teacher who motivates all his students to do their best. He absolutely loves teaching and helping students achieve more than they could ever imagine,” said MHA student and nominator Morgan Jodat. “Dr. Pruitt not only cares about our academic achievement, but about us personally and professionally as well. He is a dynamic professor that truly makes sure we are absorbing all the necessary information.”

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health

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