Psychology professor receives 2014 H.O.P.E. Award

Thu, 03/27/2014


Joe Monaco
KU Office of Public Affairs

LAWRENCE — Steve Ilardi, associate professor of psychology, has been awarded the 2014 H.O.P.E. Award by the University of Kansas Board of Class Officers.

Established by the Class of 1959, the H.O.P.E. (Honor for an Outstanding Progressive Educator) Award recognizes outstanding teaching and concern for students. It is the only KU award for teaching excellence bestowed exclusively by students and is led by the Board of Class Officers. The winner is selected by the senior class members.

“What makes this award so meaningful is the fact that it comes directly from the students,” said Ilardi, who is in his 17th year at KU. “For our graduating seniors to say that my classes have had a positive impact — I take that as the highest possible praise, and I'm deeply honored to have been named among the hundreds of talented instructors we have here at KU."

Ilardi earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Duke University in 1995, and he has since published more than 50 research articles on serious mental illness. Over the past decade, he was worked with his research team at KU to develop a promising new treatment for clinical depression. This innovative treatment program, Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, is already in use in numerous clinical settings in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and his book-length description of the program, "The Depression Cure", has been translated into six languages. Ilardi was invited to give two TEDx talks last year, and they have now been viewed more than 200,000 times.

Ilardi also has received considerable recognition for his work in the classroom. He now joins Craig Martin and the late Rick Snyder as the only two-time winners of the H.O.P.E. Award, and he has previously been honored with the Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the Ned Fleming Trust Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Del Shenkel Award (conferred by KU Athletics), the Panhellenic Association's Excellence in Education Award, the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award, the Celebration of Teaching Award (conferred by the Center for Teaching Excellence) and the Distinguished Faculty Award.

“I'm very lucky to be able to teach material that I'm passionate about, because enthusiasm can be contagious,” he said. “For example, when we're covering a topic in class like, ‘What's the most effective treatment for bipolar disorder?' or 'What's the effect of our genetics on personality development?,' I think students can tell these are questions I care about deeply, and they usually respond to that enthusiasm. In other words, they think, ‘If Dr. Ilardi thinks this is important, maybe it’s worth looking at.’

“One principle of teaching that's always been important to me is to take students seriously. So I try to never do our students disservice of setting expectations too low. Likewise, I never want to tell them what to think, or to say to them, ‘This perspective — my perspective — is the Truth with a capital T.’ Instead, I try to present all sides of every issue we cover.”

Read more about Ilardi online

H.O.P.E. winners receive a monetary award and recognition on a permanent plaque displayed in the Kansas Union.

This year’s award finalists alongside Ilardi:

  • Robert Antonio, professor in sociology
  • Kerry Benson, lecturer in journalism
  • Wallace Meyer Jr., director of entrepreneurship programs and lecturer in business
  • Derek Reed, assistant professor in applied behavioral science

For more information on the H.O.P.E. Award, visit

For a list of past H.O.P.E. winners, visit

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