Stephen Strobbe’s morning was off to a routine start Wednesday when a student presentation in his “Mental Health & Illness Across the Lifespan” class took an unexpected twist.

Instead of talking about the material, the students began sharing their appreciation for Strobbe, a clinical associate professor of nursing and associate professor of psychiatry.

Before he knew what was happening, the Golden Apple committee, complete with apple costumes, balloons, flowers, and even Strobbe’s favorite doughnuts, paraded into the class and announced that he was the 2015 winner of the Golden Apple Award.

“I’m moved beyond words,” said an emotional Strobbe. Then he quipped, “This is the best diversionary tactic you could have come up with, but we’re still taking the midterm today.”

Golden Apple Award Chair Ben Kahn congratulates Stephen Strobbe after presenting him with the award Wednesday. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

Given by Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching, the Golden Apple Award honors undergraduate and graduate faculty members who continuously seek to engage students in the classroom. It is the only student-selected teaching award on campus.

The concept of the Golden Apple Award was inspired by Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkanos, a teacher of Jewish tradition more than 18 centuries ago, who said, “Get your life in order one day before you die.”

Following the suggestion to live every day as if it were their last, each Golden Apple recipient is asked to give a lecture they would want to give if they believed it would be the last of their teaching careers. Strobbe’s lecture will be March 31 at 7 p.m. at Rackham Auditorium. 

Students can nominate the teacher of their choice. Here are a few of the comments from the nursing students who nominated Strobbe:

• “He truly inspires the students to do their best work, not just for the grade, but for the experience and knowledge.”

• “Dr. Strobbe brings vast knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of [mental health and illness] to every lecture but perhaps more importantly, he brings humanity and empathy to both his teaching style and nursing practice.”

• “The sensitivity and respect with which he handles extremely challenging topics such as sexual assault, suicide, addiction, abuse, and mental illness sets such an excellent example for us nursing students as future healthcare leaders.”

• “He strives to do everything in his power to help each student learn and succeed.”

• “The way he structures his course really illustrates that he wants us to truly explore the material and use it in a meaningful way.”

Strobbe is the second School of Nursing faculty member to receive Golden Apple. Carol Boyd, the Deborah J. Oakley Collegiate Professor of Nursing and professor of women’s studies, was selected in 1996.