Elsie Hood Winner Recognized for Student Encouragement, Enthusiasm

Timothy Nordstrom named 2024 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year

A college professor lectures at the front of a classroom.

OXFORD, Miss. – After 24 years and teaching 25 political science courses at the University of Mississippi, Timothy Nordstrom is still passionate about inspiring young minds. This is one of the many reasons he has been awarded the 2024 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year award.

Nordstrom, a political science professor who also teaches courses in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, accepted the award at the university's annual Honors Day Convocation on Thursday (April 4) in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

"The truth is when I stop and think about why I have continued to grow as a teacher, I believe it's because I'm still fascinated by the subject matter that I teach," Nordstrom said. "I love world politics and I think my love of the subject is reflected in the classroom."

The Elsie Hood award is given to an Ole Miss assistant, associate or full professor who exhibits excellent teaching and makes a positive impact in the classroom. It is the highest teaching recognition the university bestows on its faculty members.

"Dr. Timothy Nordstrom fosters a classroom environment where students grapple with complex ideas, question preconceived notions and experience intellectual growth," Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. "He is known for being remarkably supportive and for teaching students the power of resilience and persistence in their academic pursuits.


Chancellor Glenn Boyce (right) presents Timothy Nordstrom with the 2024 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year award at the annual Honors Day Convocation. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

"I commend Dr. Nordstrom, and I'm grateful for his contributions and service to University of Mississippi students."

Nordstrom came to the university in 2000 after receiving his doctorate in political science and government at Pennsylvania State University. He said he realized that it was "a great opportunity to come to a state flagship university" and has stayed since.

His teaching runs the gamut of political science topics – from first-year courses to graduate-level classes – and has included the Honors 101 and 102 sequence since 2006.

Additionally, Nordstrom teaches a study abroad course where he and his students travel to Europe to learn how international institutions work with states to manage arms control and disarmament.

"My focus is on where international conflict and cooperation come together," he said. "Charles Stotler (UM law professor) and I take students to Geneva, Switzerland, and Vienna, Austria, each May to observe proceedings at the UN and visit various nongovernmental organizations.

"We give them direct access to people who are working on critical issues – especially nuclear weapons and disarmament. We have built relationships with these people, and they talk to the students about their experience and how they got into their careers."

Madeleine Dotson, a senior economics and political science major from Mobile, Alabama, nominated Nordstrom for the award. During her time at the university, she has taken multiple courses from him, including his study abroad course.

"Dr. Nordstrom is easily one of the best professors I've had in my college career, and he will leave a lasting impact on myself, my career goals and on countless other students," Dotson said. "He truly cares about his students' success and wants them to achieve their upmost potential.

"It was because of Dr. Nordstrom that I decided to change my entire major and field of study, and he supported me through the entire process. Even now, I'm not in any of his courses, yet I know I can come to his office with any questions or any time I need advice."

Benson Le, a sophomore computer science major from Starkville, took Nordstrom's Honors 101 course.

"Dr. Timothy Nordstrom is truly the epitome of a professor with the Ole Miss spirit," Le said. "He deeply cares about every single one of his students. He also fosters an environment where his students can hold conversations about a wide array of topics.


Political science professor Timothy Nordstrom (far right) visits the United Nations office in Vienna with a group of Ole Miss students. Nordstrom takes a group of students to Europe each May to learn about security politics. Submitted photo

"I truly believe I would not be where I am on this campus today if I had not taken his Honors 101 class my freshman year. Dr. Nordstrom has helped me immensely throughout my Ole Miss journey and has taught me that it's always worth exploring the unknown."

Thomas Dyminski, a sophomore chemistry major from Oxford, said Nordstrom allowed him to "engage with new materials and worldviews in a safe, yet challenging environment."

"He gives the best feedback I've ever received on my writing, and in the few months that I've spent in his class my writing ability skyrocketed faster than throughout all of my years in high school," Dyminski said. "He's charismatic and funny, and I genuinely enjoy talking to him about the materials we discuss in class and about life in general.

"He's a phenomenal role model, teacher and man, and I would be honored to grow into a person like him."

In 2004, Nordstrom received the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen in the College of Liberal Arts. He also presented the 2019 Mortar Board "Last Lecture," an honor given to a professor at the end of the academic year where they give a lecture as if it were the end of their career.

As an Elsie Hood award winner, Nordstrom received a $10,000 prize, a personal engraved plaque and will have his name added to a permanent display in the J.D. Williams Library.

Robert Brown, political science professor and 2015 Elsie Hood recipient, said he appreciated that Nordstrom constantly seeks out new ways to reach students or "new ideas that might light a spark."

"He challenges his students to think about difficult topics, to dig deeper and consider things they thought they already knew from different perspectives," Brown said. "He approaches his work as a teacher from the viewpoint of a lifelong learner, and he wants this for his students as well – to understand that learning doesn't stop when the class is over.

"To me, this is the essence of what the Hood Award embodies. I've had countless discussions with Tim about teaching, and I've used many of his ideas. And I've had so many students tell me about the meaningful experiences they've had in his classes."

Nordstrom said that interactions with fellow teachers influenced how he approaches his vocation.

"I just love to think about my ability in the classroom to give students what I would have wanted as a student – to see them struggle with things and take on these challenges and succeed in terms of seeing a lightbulb go off," he said. "I want to get these students to a place where maybe they are different than they were before.

"There are very few things that I enjoy more as a faculty member than when a student tells me that I've made a difference in their lives on campus."


Erin Garrett



April 05, 2024