The University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association established the UMMAA Teaching Award to honor individual faculty members for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. The significant contributions of all Morris faculty are recognized and appreciated, and UMMAA is pleased to celebrate a member of the scholarly community each year.
Jim Cotter, professor of geology, 2015 recipient
Jim Cotter, professor of geology, has received the 2015 University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association Teaching Award. The award honors faculty members for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education by calling attention to educational philosophies, objectives, and methods.
Cotter has, in the words of his nominators, “created and applied a dynamic process that includes making geology and science accessible, getting students involved, and enriching students’ learning experiences with independent research.” Bart Finzel, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, adds that Cotter “stands out for his engaging teaching methods, efforts to make science courses an integral part of the liberal arts education, and sustained encouragement and support of students.”
Cotter’s commitment to these initiatives stems not from his own personal interests or agenda, but from his understanding of the campus’s needs and his desire to serve them. His enthusiasm for internationalizing the undergraduate curriculum, for encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to science and liberal arts education, is inspired and driven by the learning environment at Morris.
“My motivation doesn’t come from what I would particularly plan on, but what the campus is doing,” says Cotter. “We’ve had some incredibly good institutional ideas that I’ve been able to join, and it’s served our students well.”
To this end, Cotter has developed a set of educational philosophies, objectives, and methods that focus on increasing the accessibility of geology and general science, involving students in his field of study, and encouraging independent research as an educational experience. He has developed these pillars by supporting the undergraduate learning process.
“I think learning occurs best if students are enjoying what they’re doing, if they’re engaged in what they’re doing, and if they feel welcome in the process,” he says. “From that perspective, what I have to do is give students opportunities, help them feel comfortable, and in the end, sort of step back and let them do their thing. It’s really just facilitating their learning process.”
It would seem his approach has been a successful one. During his 30-year tenure at Morris, Cotter has taught Environmental Geology to more than 7,000 students, many of whom have responded with rave reviews. Furthermore, his nomination for the UMMAA Teaching Award was prompted by two of his students: Chelsea Tarbell ’14 and Michelle LaGarde ’15. To Cotter, that has been the most rewarding—and validating—aspect of receiving this particular honor.
“It’s nice to get a positive endorsement at any time the more important thing is that it was initiated by students. Being nominated by people who are saying thanks—whether you’re a new faculty member or an old one, that’s nice to hear.”
Cotter is a recipient of both the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education and the UMM Faculty Distinguished Research Award as well as a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering. Before joining the faculty at Morris in 1984, he earned a bachelor of arts at Franklin and Marshall College as well as a master of science and a doctorate from Lehigh University.
Sheri Breen, assistant professor of political science, 2014 recipient
Sheri Breen, assistant professor of political science, received the 2014 University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association Teaching Award. The award honors faculty members for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education by calling attention to educational philosophies, objectives, and methods.
Breen is, in the words of the nominating committee, “a paragon of excellence in teaching, advising, research, academic program development, and educational leadership.” Bart Finzel, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, affirms this statement, noting, “Breen’s rigorous teaching methods, her high expectations for both herself and her students, her educational leadership, and her consistent excellence in advising merit her receipt of this award; her recognition is well-deserved.”
Breen aims to help students identify life’s most significant questions “and recognize the implications of the diverse ways in which these questions can be addressed.” An adamant supporter of the liberal arts, she hopes to prepare students for active, informed citizenship, regardless of careers paths or ideologies.
“Political theory is all about ideas, so what we do in my classes is take on concepts such as ‘liberty’ or ‘justice’ and examine them with a considerable amount of vigor,” says Breen. “This kind of approach influences how students approach controversy, decision-making, and negotiation. I love doing that.”
Breen implements teaching methods like extended role-playing simulations, field trips, and study abroad experiences. While she values traditional text-based analysis, she believes that simulations enable students to better understand historical contexts and retain conceptual arguments. Co-curricular travel, she argues, inspires feelings of excitement and provocation, which are fundamental to education.
As someone who is “always trying new things,” Breen now is looking to expand her simulation offerings and to identify new locations in which to teach study abroad courses. She also is connecting her teaching and scholarly activities by working with research assistants—an uncommon practice in the solitary field of political theory. It is an experiment that has proved successful thus far.
“They’re not just helping me,” she says. “I see this as a way of teaching them how to do and engage with research. There’s also the prospect of some co-authoring and some side research that they can take ownership of. This is something I’m having some fun with, and I think it’s really valuable.”
Invoking the words of author-scholar Leo Tolstoy, Breen asserts that the point of life is not to come to any particular answers, but to identify the questions with which we all must wrestle, and that, to her, “is what the liberal arts are all about.” Based on her selection for the award, it seems her colleagues and students agree.
Breen earned both a bachelor of arts and a doctor of philosophy from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities before joining the Morris campus community in 2007. Her areas of expertise include political theories of nature, sustainable agriculture and stewardship, and ecological reformulation of property theory.
Timna Wyckoff, associate professor of biology, 2013 recipient
Timna Wyckoff, associate professor of biology, received the 2013 University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association Teaching Award. This award honors individual faculty members for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education by calling attention to educational philosophies, objectives, and methods.
Wyckoff was nominated for this award because she is, according to the nominating committee, “an exemplary teacher, advisor, scholar, and community citizen.” Bart Finzel,vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, expresses a similar sentiment, noting that, “in the twelve years she has been on the faculty at Morris, [Wyckoff] has mentored, guided, and inspired numerous students in their pursuit of science. She is richly deserving of this recognition.”
Wyckoff notes in her teaching statement that she “wants to teach [her] students to be scientists.” Given that she specializes in microbiology and biochemistry, a large part of that task is enabling students to envision things they cannot see. Wyckoff believes that by incorporating primary literature, computer models, stories, drawings, and other images into her daily lectures, she will help her students gain a foundational knowledge of the subject onto which they can “continue to hang details” throughout their studies and later life.
Although her courses cater primarily to upper-division biology students, Wyckoff is happy to have recently had the opportunity to teach the core course in molecular biology. She has enjoyed “reach[ing] out to students who may not think about biology on that level,” and adds that she would “love to teach a nonmajors class.” Expressing her support for increased emphasis on science education, she adds that encouraging all students to study cellular biology—to “join [her] at that level of understanding the world”—would be beneficial practice for all.
Wyckoff is grateful to have been rewarded for her efforts in the classroom. Having been nominated by Professor of Chemistry Jim Togeas, under whom she studied as an undergraduate at Morris, she feels honored by both the nomination and recognition.
“Teaching is such an important part of what we do. To be recognized and to see that the work I’m doing is helping is rewarding. And I’m very pleased to be sharing it with [2013 co-recipient] Nic [McPhee, professor of computer science].”
Wyckoff completed a degree in biology at Morris in 1994. She went on to earn a PhD in biochemistry from Duke University in 1998.
Nic McPhee, professor of computer science, 2013 recipient
Nic McPhee, professor of computer science, received the 2013 University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association Teaching Award. This award honors individual faculty members for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education by calling attention to educational philosophies, objectives, and methods.
Since joining the campus community in 1991, McPhee has, in the words of the nomination committee, “served as a beloved teacher and influential mentor for hundreds of students, played a vital role in shaping an outstanding computer science program, [and] created and taught dozens of excellent and enjoyable courses based on principles of liberal arts education…” Bart Finzel, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, affirms this statement, noting, “Nic enthusiastically engages students in the continually changing field of computer science, preparing them well for the challenging and ever-changing world after graduation, with tools to be lifelong learners. He is a dynamic and skilled teacher, highly deserving of this recognition.”
Claiming that, “for [him], learning is about engaging with the material and building things,” McPhee notes that creating opportunities for students to complete hands-on projects is his primary classroom objective. His courses focus on allowing students to complete tasks in the company of their peers, as he believes practical experience working in teams is a vital skill for all students, both majors and nonmajors, to acquire.
McPhee notes that his courses must also prepare students to be lifelong learners, given that the field of computer science changes so rapidly. He argues, though, that these lessons transcend academic disciplines, as students and scholars in all fields will confront enormous amounts of change as they work to define and maximize new technologies. McPhee believes that part of his role as a computer science professor is to help students understand the vast range of technologies they encounter each day.
McPhee is humbled by this recognition, noting that the effort put forth by his nominators is most appreciated. Recognizing the caliber and number of faculty members nominated this year, he adds that it is a particular honor to be recognized with co-recipient Timna Wyckoff, associate professor of biology. He adds that, “at the end of day,” he is just grateful to be a part of the campus community.
“As long as there are bright students who want to do stuff, I’m a happy guy. For any of us to succeed as teachers, it’s made easier by having really good students.”
In 1985 McPhee completed a BA in mathematics at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He went on to earn both a MS and a PhD in computer science from the University of Texas. His areas of expertise include evolutionary computation, artificial intelligence, and software design and development.
Jennifer K. Deane, associate professor of history, 2012 recipient
Deane was nominated for this award because she is “an exemplary teacher, advisor, scholar, and community citizen.” The nominating committee continues, “Professor Deane takes her teaching very seriously, imaginatively constructing and revising her courses, and she is very good at it—not only in courses aimed at history majors or in her own research fields, but in introductory general education classes as well. Her enthusiasm is infectious, as is her commitment to the objectives of a liberal arts education.”
Deane’s goal in the classroom is not necessarily to train medieval historians. Instead, she trains students to understand what historians do, how they do it, and why it matters. She draws upon the content of medieval and early modern European history to sharpen students’ critical thinking, verbal communication, and writing skills. “I want my students to step outside of their own perspective, and try regarding the world through some else’s eyes and assumptions. That’s when horizons really start expanding.” says Deane.
Deane is always looking for new and creative ways to reach her students. She describes herself as a “perfectionist—like many faculty” and says, “No matter how well a class goes, I always have the feeling that it could have been just a little bit better if only…and that’s where both the fun and pressure come in.” She finds teaching inspiration not only by recalling her own experiences as an undergraduate, but also in colleagues’ innovative practices, and from her own ongoing research and reading. For example, in her Early Modern Europe course, students participate in salons modeled on 17th and 18th century French intellectual gatherings and in her World History course, students become travelers on the Silk Road through central Asia. While interacting with their fellow travelers (classmates) based on medieval primary source documents, the students are monitored by border guards (teaching assistants). Deane enjoys using role-plays in her teaching, “Whatever type of activity we’re doing, my favorite teaching moments always happen when the students take off in the roles and the debate becomes their own.”
Even coming from an academic background, Deane still had to overcome a large obstacle to be an effective teacher: shyness. As she says, “It was awfully hard at first to get up in front of people and learn to teach in graduate school. I was so painfully shy when I was younger that I could hardly speak up in class. It’s one of the reasons I try to encourage all of my students to practice speaking in front of others.”
Her students get encouragement in all aspects of their lives. As an advisor, students are often waiting outside her office to speak with her about course related or advising related topics. As Stephen Harper ’13, Hastings, says, “Jennifer encourages students to excel in every aspect of her class whether it be further refining their writing style or to help them gain a deeper understanding of their subject matter: she is a tremendous asset. She takes pride in developing students to their fullest potential.”
Deane earned her B.A. in European History from the University of Washington, Seattle and her MA and Ph.D. in Medieval and Early Modern European History from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Jennifer Rothchild, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, 2011 recipient
Rothchild was selected for being “an extraordinary teacher whose rigor, dedication, and passionate commitment to her field has transformed the lives of students and colleagues on this campus.” As stated by Cheryl Contant, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, “Jennifer Rothchild is an outstanding teacher, mentor, and adviser who brings the classroom to life with her own personal engagement in issues from local to global. Her curious mind and her high demands of students bring out the best in them and in her. With this award, she joins an outstanding group of committed and talented faculty who care deeply about their role in helping students learn and stay engaged in learning throughout their lives.”
“Incredibly honored” to be a recipient of this award, Rothchild says she is “humbled to be selected among a group of such exemplary teachers at UMM” and thanks her family for encouraging great respect for education, particularly the power and value of teaching.
Nominators commended Rothchild as someone for whom “research, teaching, and service are deeply intertwined,” citing her “groundbreaking research on girls’ schooling in Nepal [that] is rooted in her sociological interest in gender and education” and detailed in her book, Gender Trouble Makers: Education and Empowerment in Nepal. She has refined these interests as discipline coordinator of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS) and shares them in her course offerings, which include Sociology of the Environment and Social Development, Sociology of Childhoods, Sociology of Gender and Sexuality, Sociology of Deviance, and Introduction to Women’s Studies.
Rothchild’s educational philosophy clears a path for her to “enjoy teaching sociology because it can fundamentally alter the way you perceive the world. C. Wright Mills developed a concept called the ‘sociological imagination’,” she clarifies, “which isn’t a thing so much as it is a habit of mind, a determination to see the world from multiple perspectives all at once. As a student practices her or his ‘sociological imagination,’ she or he learns not only to think critically about social behavior but also acquires an important capacity for empathy and taking action for social change. In this way, the ‘sociological imagination’ becomes an important tool for seeing the structures that influence our behavior as well as a challenge to imagine solutions for solving the world’s most difficult problems.”
Known for involving undergraduates in research, Rothchild is a strong advocate of service learning and the circumstances it presents for going beyond abstractions and into the “real world” to illustrate sociological concepts, terms, and theories, often resulting in permanent curricular innovations. Incorporating service learning into several of her courses, Rothchild trains students to conduct community-based action research projects of their own design.
Rothchild earned a bachelor of arts in zoology from Miami University of Ohio, a master of science in sociology from Georgia State University, and a doctorate in sociology from American University. In addition to her book, she has also authored several chapters in the Handbook on Service Learning in Women’s Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Disciplines.
Michelle Page, associate professor of education, 2010 recipient
As an undergraduate student, Page was drawn to English. With the encouragement of her language professor, she also completed a French major. While she found her first education classes “sort of interesting,” an out-of-the-classroom experience resulted in an epiphany. “It really came together at the Concordia Language Villages where I first served as an instructor and later as village dean. Bonding with kids of various ages and experiencing the joy of those relationships helped me realize ‘this is what I am going to do.’”
Page began her teaching career in the Omaha, Nebraska area, teaching French in an urban K–12 school and English in a nontraditional evening high school. “I enjoyed Omaha because it was racially and culturally diverse, which I find good, and interesting, and fun,” remembers Page. “But, under the surface, I was noticing that there were not a lot of students of color studying French.”
Questions began forming about inequities and perspectives. “Once I began learning about these issues, I became quite outraged,” shares Page. “I had not been challenged to look at the world differently. I was clueless in my own teaching and in my own school.”
Page channeled those emotions into pursuing an advanced degree at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “I was forced to confront the inequities and to understand the world in a different way. It was really uncomfortable for me, but I came alive with that experience.”
As a teacher of teachers, Page embraces “transformative” education, not only providing information on principles and methods, but also inspiring and equipping students to be informed citizens and critical thinkers. Her nominators for the award state, “Michelle has the ability to frame a career as an educator as an act of social advocacy and responsibility in a changing world.”
Page notes that the students who come to the secondary education program are well rounded and open minded, and her greatest joy is to be a part of this diverse community of learners “all in it together.”
“It is a wonderful privilege to be a part of that process,” states Page, “that gratifying ‘ah ha’ moment when the students become engaged and passionate, and I as their teacher become energized by their passion.”
After receiving a bachelor of arts in English and French with secondary education licensure at Concordia College, Moorhead, Page earned a master of science and doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a literacy and multicultural education emphasis at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At Morris, she has served as facilitator, planner, and presenter at the Multicultural Student Leadership Retreat, a consultant for the Respectful U freshman orientation session, and as a member of several University committees.
(From the 2010 news story)
Bradley Deane, assistant professor of English, 2009 recipient
Bradley Deane teaches Introduction to Literature, British Literature Survey II, Critical Approaches to Literature, and upper-level courses in literature of the long nineteenth century. He serves as the Honors Program director and teaches the interdisciplinary gateway course for the program.
“Brad is acknowledged by students and colleagues as a dynamic, innovative, challenging and effective teacher,” says Cheryl Contant, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean. “In the nomination statement for this award, Brad was described as a ‘great example and leader’ and a teacher who engages, challenges and pushes his students.”
Reflects Deane: “I encourage students to get out of the habit of regarding classic literature on such a high pedestal, as if it descended from the heavens instead of having emerged from the great social and cultural debates of the days in which it was written. Students are already shrewd critics of the movies and TV shows with which they’re familiar, and they can bring the same critical intelligence to bear on a great novel, play or poem.”
He continues: “Morris students are very sincere, earnest, engaged and active in their own learning. At a previous job, I encountered students who were very successful and goal-oriented, driven, but were concentrating primarily on 'what does it take to get an A.' Morris students are engaged by ideas. Morris has a culture that’s dedicated to teaching and preparing students for the world and for specific jobs. Students leave Morris knowing how to think critically and generate their own ideas.”
Deane holds a doctorate and master of arts in English from Northwestern University and received a bachelor of arts in English from the University of Michigan. He writes on a variety of topics, including a recent work in progress, "The Monkey in the House: Commodities and the Subversive Fetish in Late Victorian Imperial Romance." He is a member of the Modern Language Association, Sigma Tau Delta, and the North American Victorian Studies Association.
(From the 2009 news story)
Julie Pelletier, assistant professor of anthropology, 2008 recipient
Nominated by colleagues, current students, and alumni, Pelletier is noted for setting high standards for her students and for utilizing a teaching style that puts students at ease and creates an open atmosphere in classroom and office. She’s a storyteller whose stories link academic concepts and material to real-life examples, her own and her students.
Pelletier earned a doctorate in anthropology in 2002 and a master of arts in anthropology in 2000 from Michigan State University, and a bachelor of university studies in social sciences at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Her own uncertainty about attending graduate school provides good storytelling material and offers encouragement for her students.
Pelletier began her Morris career in 2002. “I came to UMM excited by the possibilities that this institution has to offer,” she states, “the freedom to develop courses I want to teach, the small class size, the opportunity to participate in academic advising, bright and motivated students, a faculty that prioritizes teaching while remaining committed to research, student involvement in research, a conscientious support staff, and the American Indian Tuition Waiver."
Pelletier teaches Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, North American Indian Ethnography, Native American Women, 20th Century NativeAmericans, and Medical Anthropology: An Overview, as well as supervises directed studies.
(From the 2008 news story)
Sarah Buchanan, associate professor of French, 2007 recipient
Nominated by colleagues, current students, and alumni, Buchanan is noted for a teaching style that exudes infectious energy and enthusiasm—contagious to both students and colleagues.
Tammy Berberi, assistant professor of French, states: "Sarah is a passionate and capable teacher…popular and highly respected.”
A member of the UMM faculty since 2000, Buchanan teaches a variety of courses including French, French Cinema,West African Francophone Cinema, Contemporary France, and Feminist Theory. She leads two study abroad programs: Morocco: Myth, Stories, History and July in Paris. An avid study abroad advocate, she says, “Americans can travel four or five days before entering another country. We risk being rather insular. It is therefore vital for Americans to go abroad, to learn about other people, their histories, their cultures, their languages, and their ways of solving problems. Living and studying in another country pushes one intellectually and individually, but even more important, it’s fun!”
Buchanan earned a doctorate in 20th century francophone literature and film from the University of Minnesota; a master of arts in French literature from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City; and a bachelor of arts in French from St. Olaf College, Northfield.
(From the 2007 news story)
Janet Schrunk Ericksen, associate professor of English, 2006 recipient
Nominated by teaching colleagues, current students, and alumni, Schrunk Ericksen is noted for a teaching style that emphasizes high expectations of each and every student and a willingness to help her students be successful, in and out of the classroom. As colleague Jim Togeas, professor of chemistry, states: “Janet’s courses are not the place for loafers. She is a demanding teacher and a tough grader.” But students seek her out for the thoughtful, caring individual attention they receive, and her lively, enthusiastic classroom presence.
A faculty member since 1998, Schrunk Ericksen teaches a variety of courses including Norse Sagas, British Literature, Analysis of Poetry, and Medieval Literature. She has served as discipline coordinator, as assistant chair of the Humanities Division, and as a mentor to tenure-track Humanities Division faculty. Her fields of scholarly study include Medieval language and literature including Old English, Old Norse, German, French, Icelandic, and Latin.
Schrunk Ericksen earned a master of arts and doctorate in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned a bachelor of arts in art history and English from the University of Hull, Northumberland, United Kingdom, and the University of Kansas.
(From the 2006 news story)
Pareena Lawrence, associate professor of economics and management, 2005 recipient
Mention daily assignments and some college students might groan—not so for students in Pareena Lawrence’s economics courses. Their appreciative thanks for her unique teaching style, which includes daily assignments at the end of each lecture period, and accolades from her colleagues earned Lawrence the honor of receiving the UMMAA Teaching Award.
Lawrence holds fast to three basic teaching principles: treat students as active partners in the learning process; communicate high academic and personal expectations for students; model and teach critical thinking skills. The group exercises she assigns to reinforce each day’s lecture materials illustrate these tenets. Problem solving, discussions, simulations, and service learning activities provide immediate opportunities to reinforce and to apply concepts presented in lecture.
“While these exercises are instrumental in learning the material,” notes Joshua Hilman ’00, Benfield, Inc. senior analyst,“they also force students to critically think and develop analytical skills. These abilities that were developed in her classes are the driving factors in my success in the work place since graduation.”
Lawrence began her Morris career in 1994 after completing a doctorate in economics at Purdue University in 1993. She earned a master of science in economics at Purdue University in 1990 and a master of arts in economics in 1989 at the University of Delhi in Delhi, India, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in 1987.
(From the 2005 news story)
Gwen Rudney, associate professor of elementary education, 2004 recipient
Gwen Rudney earned teaching certification, a bachelor of science, a master of science, and a doctorate from the University of California, Riverside. She joined the UMM faculty in 1991. “Morris was the only interview where students were clearly involved and active in the entire interview process,” remembers Rudney. “That was very important to me.
Rudney expressed gratitude for receiving the award. "To have other people choose me, it’s indescribable. It’s exciting because teaching is so important to me. To be honored for it is amazing.”
In addition to teaching responsibilities, Rudney serves on a committee that coordinates the elementary education program. Her research involves multicultural education, student teacher mentoring, and parent-teacher relationships. She authored Maximum Mentoring: An Action Guide for Teacher Trainers and Cooperating Teachers, published in 2003, and is currently writing a second book. Rudney serves her profession as chair of the selection panel for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
Rudney is proud to teach her students the skills they will use to teach their own students one day, and says, “All students deserve good teachers.”
(From the 2004 news story)
Pieranna Garavaso, professor of philosophy, 2003 recipient
A member of the philosophy faculty since 1991, Garavaso earned a bachelor of arts and a master of arts in philosophy from the University of Padova in Italy. She holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Garavaso works to integrate multi-cultural and gender perspectives into the philosophy curriculum. As she points out, most analytic philosophers have not included issues of race, class, gender, or social discrimination in their curricula. With the help of a Minority Partner, Garavaso tackled this difficulty by surveying students concerning the public image of philosophy at Morris. It was concluded that philosophy is usually regarded by students as abstract, even abstruse, and impractical. Responding to these perceptions, she added a service learning component to an introductory course in feminist philosophy.
"Pieranna possessed the ability to challenge and engage students. Her students were active learners. I have used her example daily during my two years as a Peace Corps volunteer and as a teacher in inner-city schools," states Jana Hilleren Garcia '94.
Kevin Klement '95, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, states: "I cannot think of a single instructor whom I try more to emulate. Because students generally come to college with no training in logic and many struggle with its most simple and basic concepts, logic instructors find themselves having to find a way to reach students whose standpoint is almost entirely alien. Pieranna is able to reach these students in almost every case due to her endless patience and sympathy."
(From the 2003 news story)
Nancy Carpenter, associate professor of chemistry, 2002 recipient
"Dr. Carpenter puts her students ahead of everything else in her career," states student Kelly Gorres and Van Gooch, professor of biology, in making this nomination.
Carpenter uses a variety of teaching methods in order to engage each student in active learning. She uses helpful analogies such as comparing magnetic anisotropy to preparing for winter in Minnesota, chemical bonding to shopping with a friend, and the mechanisms of nucleophilic substitution to dealing with a less-than-perfect roommate. The fundamental principle that underlies her teaching is her stubborn insistence on trying "to help students learn to think. I want them to take with them the process of problem solving."
Carpenter's advising is an extension of her teaching style. It is much more than course selection and checking graduation requirements. Many students have attributed, in a major way, their success of getting into graduate school or obtaining their first job to her valuable guidance.
Carpenter is an educational leader. She saw semester conversion, the lack of a program in biochemistry, and the need for more undergraduate research opportunities not as problems but rather, as a plan waiting to be assembled. She brought the issues together through curriculum proposals, attending committee meetings and writing grants. The result has been a stronger chemistry curriculum and a biochemistry option for students.
A faculty member since 1989, Carpenter earned a master of science and doctorate in chemistry at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
(From the 2002 news story)
Paula O'Loughlin, assistant professor of political science, 2001 recipient
Paula O'Loughlin combines her naturally entertaining, caring, exuberant personality with content and techniques that challenge and expand students' experiences.
She took advantage of the unusual Minnesota governor's race in 1998 by having students design their own research on Jesse Ventura's campaign success and eventual victory. Students have critically assessed the problem of low voter turnout, especially among young voters. They have used that information to implement ways to "get out the vote" using voter education and registration drives—an important service-learning activity. O'Loughlin works tirelessly as an adviser and in searching for the "right" quality internship experiences for students at local, state, and federal government levels. In addition, O'Loughlin's teaching activities include research with individual students through directed studies, Morris Academic Partners, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
Roland Guyotte, professor of history, states: "Paula has revitalized the political science offerings by introducing timely and important courses on media and politics, political participation and voting behavior, American political culture, the cross-national study of women and politics, and the cross-disciplinary political psychology course. Paula is certainly leaving her imprint on the academic offerings at Morris."
Paula earned a bachelor of science from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota.
(From the 2001 news story)
Jon Anderson, associate professor of mathematics, 2000 recipient
Andy Lopez, professor of computer science, and Engin Sungur, associate professor of mathematics, and statistics major Gina Garding '99, state: "...Dr. Jon Anderson is a rare jewel that shines even in an institution that is blessed with an unusually high number of gifted teachers. He helps his students to gain their confidence with his relaxed and informal style and leads them to success with various innovative techniques and tools. His endless energy, enthusiasm, personality, and knowledge continuously make a huge positive impact on the academic success of his undergraduate students."
Anderson has written extensively in the area of mathematics and, in 1997-98, received a grant from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs for further analysis of domestic violence survey data. He served as a co-investigator in 1996-97 for a survey on domestic violence in west central Minnesota.
Anderson joined the Morris faculty in 1994. He earned a doctorate in biostatistics, a master of science in statistics, and a bachelor of science in economics from the University of Minnesota.
(From the 2000 news story)
Bart Finzel, associate professor of economics and management, 1999 recipient
Bart Finzel earned a bachelor of science in economics from Valparaiso University, Indiana, and a master of arts and doctorate in economics from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. He joined the Morris faculty in 1989. The nominations committee states: "Almost immediately upon his arrival on this campus, students were enthused about his classroom performance. This enthusiasm has persisted, and it has become clear that it accompanies demanding and highly effective instruction."
Finzel holds his students to high standards. "Students are wary of this reputation [of being tough] but never shy away from taking his classes. As students, we realized that the tougher the course, the more we learn, and the more we would retain," states Angel Gibson '96.
Reid Sorenson '98 states: "Bart believes that we will take what we have learned and create our own thoughts and ideas. He forced us to quit following and to start thinking for ourselves."
In addition to teaching and research, Finze is viewed as a remarkable adviser and mentor. He is accessible, approachable, and familiar with student situations.
The nominations committee states: "The most effective undergraduate education entails high expectation for all students, active forms of learning, coherent curricula, and effective out-of-classroom opportunities. These characteristics describe Bart Finzel's philosophy and practice of teaching. Moreover, he embodies these principles in a way that transforms his students.”
(From the 1999 news story)
Peh Ng, assistant professor of mathematics, 1998 recipient
As chair of the Functions and Awards Committee, Elizabeth Blake states: "The Committee was impressed by Peh's obvious enthusiasm for teaching and by her extraordinary dedication to students, including such evidence as her informal meetings with them, her home page on the Web, and her participation in extracurricular student activities. It is clear that her courses and research projects are challenging. Yet, because she provides support to help students get through the work successfully, they giver her extremely favorable evaluations."
In his letter of support, Michael Korth, chair of the division of science and mathematics states: "Peh is an exuberant teacher who displays tremendous enthusiasm for her subject and a great deal of energy in presenting it to her students. She utilizes a variety of teaching methods in order to engage each student in an active learning experience in her classroom. She is known among students to be a very challenging teacher, but one who provides students with support that helps them rise to the challenge. Her teaching emphasizes student participation both in the classroom and in hands-on projects."
Among her many professional achievements, Ng was awarded a grant in 1996 from Northwest Airlines Corporation to study mathematical modeling for onboard services, and also from the UMM Faculty Enrichment Program funded by the Bush Foundation. Ng earned a bachelor of science in mathematics and physics from Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, and a master of science and doctorate from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
(From the 1998 news story)
Christopher Cole, associate professor of biology, 1997 recipient
A faculty member since 1989, Cole teaches genetics, plant biology, molecular biology, and conservation biology. "I teach out of fascination with and love for the living world and gratitude to the teachers who opened this biology to me. I feel honored by the curiosity and effort students bring as I get to pass this on to them. I go into classes looking forward to the people there and to this opportunity," Cole says.
In nominating Professor Cole for the award, several students cited his "dynamic teaching style, experience in research, broad knowledge of current research, and friendly personality." They appreciate his "open door" policy and accessibility as an adviser and mentor.
A Minnesota native, Cole earned a bachelor of science from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and master of science and doctorate from the University of Minnesota.
(From the 1997 news story)