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Dr. Jason King Honored with Thoburn Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Jason King Honored with Thoburn Excellence in Teaching Award

Jason King with John Smetanka
by Public Relations | November 19, 2020

LATROBE, PA – Dr. Jason King, Saint Vincent College professor of theology, was presented the Thoburn Excellence in Teaching Award at the Saint Vincent College virtual Founders’ Day Honors Convocation in the historic Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica in recognition of his excellence in teaching, dedicated service to students and commitment to the values of Saint Vincent College.

Nominations for the Thoburn Award are made by Saint Vincent College alumni five to seven years after graduation. Alumni are invited to name one member of the faculty who has made a significant impact on them through their teaching and personal interactions. More than 50 nominations were received for 30 different faculty members for this year’s award.

The award was presented to King by Dr. John Smetanka, Saint Vincent College vice president for academic affairs and academic dean.

“Dr. King is a master teacher in all modalities, a fact recognized by his students,” said Smetanka. “His courses are the first to fill each registration period. Whether in-person or online, Dr. King’s classes are characterized by academic excellence and challenge.

“His students describe him as passionate, engaging, devoted to students and their success, and possessing a really good sense of humor,” continued Smetanka. “A student shared that ‘class discussions enhanced our understanding of life and faith.’ Another shared that ‘I would recommend Dr. King to everyone. He is affable, kind and very smart.’ Yet another commented on the engagement Dr. King engenders saying, ‘After each class I would have discussions about the daily material with my friends in the course. It was really wonderful to continue the discussion outside of the classroom.’”

“It was quite a surprise to learn that I was receiving this award,” said King. “When Dr. Smetanka called me into his office to tell me, I thought I was in trouble.”

Jason King speakingKing is honored to be recognized by so many students from years past, saying, “For me, that is what makes this award special. That students would still be thinking – even after graduation – that their experience in my classroom was valuable truly astounds me. It is what teachers hope for, and I could not be more grateful for my students.”

He also credits his students and colleagues for his continued growth during his tenure at Saint Vincent.

“I feel like I’ve grown as a teacher, a scholar and as a Christian. And, I think SVC will keep pushing me to grow.”

In his remarks upon receiving the award, King recalled a story from Luke: 24 in which a group of disciples did not recognize Jesus when he encountered them following his resurrection. Upon dining together, they finally recognized him, only for Jesus to disappear once again.

“The scripture reads,” said King, “’were not our hearts burning within us when he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?’

“I often like to think of myself as Jesus in these stories,” he continued, “enlightening the minds of my disciples and causing their hearts to burn within them. But when I reflect upon my teaching, it’s not the role I find myself in. I find that the students did most of the enlightening. They caused my heart to burn and they caused me to open my mind."

King holds a bachelor of arts degree from Berea College, while he holds a master’s and Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America. He joined the Saint Vincent College faculty in 2005 and his courses taught include Aliens, Monsters, Heroes and Jesus; Catholic Marriage; Ethics of Aquinas; God, Work and Money and Theology of Children.

Additionally, he has been regularly published in international journals, serves as editor of the Journal of Moral Theology and has authored two books.

The Thoburn Excellence in Teaching Award is made possible by a gift from the late Thomas W. Thoburn Jr., and Tina Thoburn, D.Ed., educators and philanthropists from Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Conducted virtually due to gathering restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Founders’ Day Honors Convocation can be viewed in its entirety at


PHOTO 1: Dr. Jason King (left) is presented the Thoburn Award by Dr. John Smetanka, vice president of academic affairs and academic dean.

PHOTO 2: Dr. Jason King offers remarks upon receiving the Thoburn Award at Saint Vincent College’s virtual Founders’ Day Honors Convocation in the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica.