Recipients Announced for the 2020 de Werd Faculty Award for Impact on Student Success

Professors Tim Ridout and Jack Wroldsen

Professors Tim Ridout (left) and Jack Wroldsen (right) have received the 2020 de Werd Faculty Award for Impact on Student Success! 

The de Werd Award was established in 2018 by Orfalea College of Business graduate Jourdi de Werd (’80) to reward faculty members who repeatedly go above and beyond to help their students thrive. All recipients are nominated by the Orfalea College of Business Student Ambassadors, students who have witnessed first-hand the efforts of these faculty members to engage students in the classroom. 

Both professors Ridout and Wroldsen will receive a stipend of $10,000 and will offer one workshop during the academic year on methods for maximizing student success. 

“It’s no surprise that the OCOB Ambassadors selected Jack and Tim for the Jourdi de Werd Awards this year,” says Interim Dean Al Liddicoat. “They’re both very engaged in teaching, advising, and serving OCOB students. They prioritize being available to ensure our students succeed in the classroom and are prepared for their future careers! We’re so grateful that alumnus Jourdi de Werd provided this funding to recognize these professors.”

More About the 2020 de Werd Faculty Award Recipients

Tim Ridout is a second-time recipient of the de Werd Faculty Award. As a Cal Poly alumnus (’93), Ridout truly understands what ‘Learn by Doing’ is all about. He spent nearly 20 years working in Silicon Valley in high growth technology companies, then on the Central Coast in cleantech and in agriculture, providing financial and administrative expertise. He returned to Cal Poly in 2016 as a faculty member, and teaches accounting courses, both at the intro level and upper division. Ridout brings his 25-plus years of practical corporate experience into the classroom with a mentorship driven approach. 

On Receiving the Award: “It’s a huge honor [to be awarded the de Werd Faculty Award], especially because I know where it comes from—the students. It is all about the students. The fact that it comes from the OCOB Ambassadors is an incredible honor and affirms I have created an environment and methodology for them to succeed. I’ve been in OCOB teaching and engaging students for only five years, but I’ve been “coaching” and developing professionals for nearly thirty. So to me it’s really not that different from building a successful team and coaching your teammates up. Success starts by being engaged in the moment during class. I need my students to come prepared and then I don’t allow anonymity. I’m going to ask questions and have them help me discuss concepts and the related application. This is how the real world works. I offer many real world stories (granted some of them are silly) in the classroom about my personal business experiences. I always try to follow up concepts with something that’s mine—something personal or relevant to make the concepts relatable. And what I’m told is the stories stick. Ultimately, whatever we do should always be about supporting student success. It is a simple, but important, barometer on decision making and class interaction: does this help student success, or not. If the answer is yes, you are on a proper path. ”

Jack Wroldsen joined Cal Poly in the fall of 2019 as a professor of Business Law. Wroldsen, however, is not a newcomer to the classroom. He began his teaching career teaching high school Spanish outside of Chicago before attending law school at Duke. He then practiced corporate law in Denver at a large law firm and a technology company before starting his own law practice catering to entrepreneurs. Before finding his way to the Central Coast and the Orfalea College of Business, Wroldsen taught at the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University and the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. 

On Receiving the Award: “It’s tremendous [to be awarded the de Werd Faculty Award]. I was shocked. It was very gratifying to be selected by the students. That aspect really means a lot to me. And it’s also really significant that Jourdi de Werd and Cal Poly stand behind student engagement. For me, student engagement is the whole approach. It’s not a strategy—it’s the point. It’s the main goal. I really value the students’ time and efforts, so I try to use class time efficiently and create meaningful, substantive assignments, not busywork. I think part of teaching boils down to the Golden Rule: treating others the way you would like to be treated. I certainly remember the challenges I confronted during college and try to be understanding of the realities that students face in their lives. You can study law by learning legal content, or you can study law by learning how to think analytically. I try to focus on an analytical approach that students can apply to any law they may encounter in their careers. So the focus is more on developing skills than accumulating knowledge. I spend quite a bit of time developing thought-provoking questions as opposed to covering information. The goal, at least, is to have interactive discussions about key questions as opposed to simply conveying information through a lecture format. For an organization to prioritize teaching, and especially to give the students a voice in how they are being taught, is really commendable. It’s a great honor to receive this award.”