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 6.
The 2014 recipients of the 22nd annual Regents Teaching Excellence Awards are:
- Clifton Ganyard, Associate Professor, Department of Humanistic Studies, UW-Green Bay. Associate Prof. Ganyard has taught more than two dozen courses for Humanistic Studies, History and Global Studies, with his main field of study being modern European and German history. His instructional style, much beloved by his students, is an approach that integrates art, philosophy, literature and music. The idea is to view history from various vantage points. For example, Ganyard’s passion for interdisciplinary teaching is evidenced by his course on Jazz history, which included live jazz performances, as well as an exploration of the history of this art form, as well as the social and political contexts in which it evolved. To achieve his instructional goals, Ganyard also looks outside of the Humanities for still another perspective. What results is a productive and invigorating learning environment. Ganyard is the recipient of many awards and honors, including being named a UWGB Advanced Online Teaching Fellow in 2014 and the UW System Institute on Race and Ethnicity grant for his World War II course, War without Mercy in 2012.
- Matthew Roberts, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UW‑Platteville. Prof. Roberts, who earned his PhD in Civil Engineering, began teaching at UW-Platteville in 2002. He incorporates multiple teaching techniques to accommodate students’ learning styles, helping them master the material. He regularly updates his skills by attending conferences and then incorporates what he’s learned into his classroom activities. Roberts’ approach works exceedingly well as evidenced by consistently high student ratings, with many of them lauding him as not only an outstanding instructor but a generous mentor and role model. Roberts also offers his expertise outside of the classroom, participating in the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. For example, he has taught hands-on applications of building a replica steel bridge and has helped promote other activities that allow students to better understand careers in civil engineering. The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department has received local and statewide recognition for its excellent teaching record, thanks in part to the leadership and efforts of Roberts.
- Biology Department, UW-River Falls. Biology is one of the largest departments at UW-River Falls, with most students choosing the biomedical option of the major. These students go on to health careers or laboratory research. Other biology students may pursue courses that enable them to be certified to teach biology in high school or middle school. Wherever their specific interest lies in biology, students find UW-Rivers Falls to be an outstanding educational institution for them. The award-winning biology department has been a national leader in an effort to improve undergraduate biology education as part of a National Science Foundation initiative. The initiative involves exposing students to research projects early in their coursework via a freshman course sequence for new biology majors. Another unique opportunity for students involves the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where a program offers first-year UW-River Falls students the opportunity to conduct and publish cutting-edge research. The Biology Department also has taken a leadership role in achieving the campuses’ strategic goals related to globalization and innovation. For example, UW-River Falls students spend four weeks in Taipei City, Taiwan, testing extracts and traditional Chinese herbs in research on heart defects, using zebra fish as a model.
“Selecting the winners for this prestigious honor is always difficult because the UW System is home to so many outstanding educators,” said Regent Charles Pruitt, chair of the selection committee. “These teachers are both creative and passionate in their approaches to helping students learn. Their success and devotion to their students’ needs are a testament to how excellent teachers can have a lasting impact on student lives.”
Others on the selection committee were Regent Margaret Farrow, Regent Chad Landes, and Regent Gary Roberts.
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.
“I am honored to recognize these outstanding educators who are so dedicated to making sure their students are well-prepared to take on the world. They each set an exceptional example,” said UW System President Ray Cross.
The Regents Teaching Excellence Awards will be officially presented at the Board of Regents meeting on June 6 in Milwaukee. Each recipient will receive a $5,000 stipend to be used for professional development or program purposes.