Mueller Earns Honor for Teaching

Aug 17, 2020

The geography professor wins the 2020 Distinguished Teacher Award from the Pennsylvania Geographical Society.

tom mueller

Dr. Thomas Mueller, a professor of geography at Cal U, has received the Pennsylvania Geographical Society’s 2020 Distinguished Teacher Award. 

The PGS has more than 250 members and institutions that promote the use of geographic skills and information to support the application of geographical techniques in a broad spectrum of public and private employers, as well as effective teaching of geography at all levels and settings. 

Nominees for the Distinguished Teacher Award have displayed long-term excellence in teaching with innovative and effective classroom methods in geography, earth science, and environmental science. 

Mueller co-created and is the adviser for the geography major with a concentration in geographic information systems. His goal is to apply spatial theory to the real world, particularly using GIS.  

A National Geographic Society certified educator, Mueller previously received the PGS Distinguished Teacher Award in 2012. 

"Tom Mueller is a model of the ideals associated with a university professor,” said Dr. Joseph Blencoski director of PGS Awards Committee and emeritus professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Geography and Regional Planning. “Not only is he an excellent classroom teacher, but, over the years, he has been involved in countless educational programs designed to improve quality teaching and learning for students. 

“The fact that he has received a second PGS distinguished teaching award is testimony to his ongoing commitment to teaching excellence at California University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere." 

Mueller is honored to receive the award whose past recipients also include colleagues Dr. Thomas Wickham (2011) and Dr. Mario Majcen (2014).   

“The most important aspect of my job is to teach students,” Mueller said.  “I hope that when students leave my classes, they have improved their spatial thinking and are better global citizens. This is not just an award for me – it is for all my fellow faculty and students who have made me a better teacher.” 

Lizz Buchanan, a senior majoring in geography with a concentration in GIS and minor in parks and recreation management, said Mueller is committed to his students’ academic and personal success and is always working to improve himself to benefit students. 

“He is the most encouraging professor I have ever had, and he understands that many of us have jobs and other responsibilities to take care of along with our schooling,” she said. 

“His office door is always open and when the pandemic forced us all on online, almost every day Dr. Mueller would email us with reminders of what we still had to do and something encouraging to keep us going. He is so deserving of this award.”