Prof. Ritchie Named Stefani-Miller Chair for Teaching Excellence

A man points to equations on a chalkboard at the front of a classroom.

Lauded by students and peers as an inspiring teacher, University of Mississippi chemistry professor Jason Ritchie has been named the second faculty member to hold the Doctors Andrew Stefani and Eldon Miller Memorial Chair for STEM Teaching and Research.

Established in 2019 by Dr. Rhett Atkinson and his wife, Elaine, with a $1.5 million gift, the chair honors Stefani, former professor and chair of chemistry, and Miller, former professor and chair of mathematics.

Ritchie, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said he plans to use the chair’s resources to develop new teaching materials and activities to support active learning in his classroom. He also wants to help other faculty members stimulate the adoption of active learning techniques across campus.

“I’m really thrilled to be recognized by my colleagues for this position,” he said. “I’m also excited about the possibilities for sharing my techniques with others who are interested in incorporating active learning in their classrooms.”

An Ole Miss faculty member since 2000, Ritchie is a previous recipient of the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award. He also ru


Jason Ritchie

ns a research laboratory that studies polymer electrolytes for fuel cells and batteries, with both graduate student and undergraduate researchers.

Ritchie’s colleagues said he is more than deserving of his recognition.

“Jason has been one of our department’s best-regarded teachers for over 20 years,” said Daniell Mattern, the inaugural recipient of the award in 2022. “He continually works to improve his teaching chops, and his students praise him while they are learning their chemistry. He well deserves this recognition.”

Mattern also said Ritchie’s strengths are his chemical demonstrations in his classes, embellishing his lectures with examples from current events and showing how old topics in general chemistry are relevant to present-day issues.

“His goal is to learn each student’s name, which is an impressive feat,” Mattern said. “Students appreciate his enthusiasm and cheerful attitude, and his accessibility.”

Joshua Eyler, director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, said Ritchie is one of the most dedicated educators he knows.

“He truly prioritizes students and their learning, and he does so through innovative uses of active learning techniques that have been specifically designed for helping STEM students to develop conceptual understanding,” Eyler said. “His commitment to and passion for education alone makes him incredibly deserving of this prestigious honor.”

The Doctors Andrew Stefani and Eldon Miller Memorial Chair for STEM Teaching and Research Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. Send a check, with the endowment noted in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or give online at

For more information on supporting STEM teaching and research at the university, contact Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, at or 662-915-3120.