MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will honor two professors and one academic program for their outstanding achievements in teaching, when they bestow the UW System’s highest recognition for members of its faculty and academic staff on June 7.

The 2013 recipients of the 21st annual Regents Teaching Excellence Awards are:

  • Christopher Coe, Professor, Department of Psychology, UW-Madison. For 25 years, Professor Coe has taught the highly popular Psychology 450, “Animal Behavior – The Primates,” where students ponder how the behavior and biology of our closest animal relatives can inform understanding of the human condition. The class, taken both by Psychology majors and many others in the humanities and social sciences to fulfill their science requirement, has reached its maximum enrollment of 350 students every year since 1985. Coe describes his pedagogical style as designed to “foster the abiding belief that through the knowledge, we gain wisdom, meaningful to us as individuals and as citizens invested in our community.”  Coe, who is also Director of the Harlow Primate Laboratory, is recognized as one of the formative founding fathers of PsychoNeuroImmunology, as evidenced by his receipt in 2001 of the Norman Cousins award, the premier honor in his field. His innovative research program affords many opportunities for students. He is the principal investigator or collaborating investigator on 10 different awards from the National Institutes of Health and private foundations, including a Grand Challenges Exploration Award from the Gates Foundation. Previous honors include the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (1997) and the Hilldale Award for outstanding teaching and scholarly achievements (2005).
  • Peggy James, Associate Professor, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Law, UW-Parkside. A member of the UW-Parkside faculty since 1988, Professor James says three themes are central to her teaching philosophy:  the development of citizenship; an emphasis on wisdom rather than knowledge; and the continuing recognition of individual identity in the educational process.  For many years, she co-directed the Center for International Studies, where she supervised the international studies certificate and managed the study abroad program. She has led student service learning tours to Chiapas, Mexico, and initiated a partnership with the Amawtay Wasi, the Intercultural University of the Indigenous Nationalities and Peoples of Ecuador. She created the co-curricular programming for national and global citizenship, including the Water for Peace campus initiative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She revived the honors program at UWP that had been dormant for almost a decade, and served as its director from 1995-2000. She is a two-time winner of Parkside’s campus teaching award (2003 and 2012), and was selected as a Wisconsin Teaching Scholar in 2009-10.
  • Department of Biology, UW-La Crosse. The Department of Biology currently educates more than 1,100 Biology majors annually – over a tenth of the UW-L undergraduate population. It also mentors 40-60 Masters of Biology graduate students.  The department has developed a model of collaborative teaching to improve student learning at every level. In this model, Biology faculty work together in course planning and design, implementation in the classroom, and course assessment and enhancement.  Student learning is supported via many mechanisms, including incorporation of inquiry and active learning throughout the curriculum, and pioneering new teaching approaches like the use of clickers. The department provides campus, state, and national leadership in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Recognizing that the best way to learn science is through hands-on engagement, students are involved in research projects both in course labs and independent undergraduate research projects. The department has been very successful in obtaining external funding to support research with students, including 53 different external research grants or contracts totaling over $7.5 million in the last five years. The department also has a strong commitment to increasing the involvement of traditionally underrepresented students through leadership roles in programs such as the McNair Scholars.

Selecting the winners was a challenge but inspiring, said Regent Charles Pruitt, chair of the selection committee.

“These educators are standouts for their creative and innovative approaches to building students’ wisdom along with their knowledge and skills,” Pruitt said. “Their passion for teaching and dedication to their students’ success are a keen testament to how great teachers can have a lasting impact.”

Others on the selection committee were Regent Katherine Pointer, Regent Gary Roberts, and Regent Mark Tyler.

Award recipients are selected for their strong commitment to teaching and learning; use of effective teaching strategies to enhance student learning; and significant impact on students’ intellectual development.

“It’s a privilege to recognize these deserving educators who are dedicated to preparing their students not only for success in the classroom and laboratory, but also for success in meeting the challenges of the world beyond their college campuses. They each set an exceptional example,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly.

The Regents Teaching Excellence Awards will be officially presented at the Board of Regents meeting on June 7 in Milwaukee. Each recipient will receive a $5,000 stipend to be used for professional development or program purposes.

Media Contacts:

David Giroux
UW System

Amy Toburen

Dave Buchanan

Brad Quarberg
UW-La Crosse