May 13, 2020 • By Xanat Hernandez
Professor Grace McLaughlin has been honored with the 2020 Lecturer of the Year Award, presented by the Academic Senate Council on Teaching, Learning and Student Experience. This campus wide Celebration of Teaching Award is based on nominations from peers, colleagues and students.
Over the course of her 20-year career at The UCI Paul Merage School of Business, McLaughlin has taught over 19,500 students and over 160 courses. By the time she retires in 2021, this number will have reached or surpassed 20,000.
For McLaughlin, teaching—not research—has been her passion and sole focus. It is not uncommon for her to teach seven classes during the academic year and an additional four during the summer.
Professor Chris Bauman said: “Dr. McLaughlin’s consistently outstanding teaching ratings clearly demonstrate her exceptional talent for connecting with a wide audience of UCI undergraduate students, and some students affectionately joke that they chose to enroll in the “McLaughlin emphasis” because they enjoyed her courses and the topics so much.”
Undergrads can choose to take up to six classes from her, starting with Management 1, a class geared toward freshmen.
“I got my PhD at the Merage School to teach undergrads,” she explained. “It set up a career that I love, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Every few years, McLaughlin is inspired to develop new classes of her own, such as Leadership, Human Resources and Organizational Change. She has been nominated for the Lecturer of the Year award four times.
“Winning was an incredible surprise and a huge honor,” she said. “I wish there was more I could do to give back to the Merage School for what it has given to me.”
Before receiving her PhD at the Merage School in 2000, McLaughlin tried her hand teaching middle and high school. However, she soon realized she wanted to teach university students.
“Our students at UCI are absolutely incredible,” she said. “They’re smart; they’re dedicated; they’re invested. If you put a challenge in front of them, they step up, no matter how high the bar is. You can make a class as hard as you need it to be and they will enjoy it and rise to the challenge.”
Rebecca Edes, Business Administration ’07, wrote a letter of recommendation for McLaughlin commending her on her devotion to the craft of teaching.
“She encouraged us to not only read the course materials and fulfill the requirements, but to also be brave enough to think independently on our own and to challenge the ideas we didn’t agree with,” said Edes. “After the first week of her class, I knew she was something special and that I needed to sign up for every class she taught.”