MADISON — A professor whose students say possesses an “obvious love for teaching and wildlife,” a teacher respected for her “talent for connecting classroom lessons to real world examples,” and a department recognized for “revitalizing” undergraduate physics. What do those individuals and program have to do with the Wisconsin Idea? Everything!
These exemplary educators will all be honored by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents with the 13th annual Regents Teaching Excellence Awards during a ceremony on Friday (Sept. 10) at a full board meeting in Madison.
The 2004 Regents Teaching Excellence Award winners include:
- Eric M. Anderson, professor of wildlife, UW-Stevens Point;
- Denise Scheberle, professor of public and environmental affairs, UW-Green Bay; and
- Department of Physics, UW-La Crosse.
The awards recognize outstanding career achievements by individuals and an exceptional commitment to teaching by academic departments or programs. Nominees undergo a rigorous campus selection process, which includes support from students.
Each winner will receive $5,000 for professional development. Regent Danae D. Davis of Milwaukee chaired the special regents committee that selected the winners. Other members included Regents Charles Pruitt of Shorewood, Beth Richlen of Madison and Jesus Salas of Milwaukee.
“As always, the committee was challenged to select a handful of winners from among all the outstanding entries,” Davis said. “This year’s winners stood out for their exemplary service to students, innovative teaching methods, and remarkable contributions in their fields.”
Davis and Regent President Toby E. Marcovich of Superior both agreed that the awards also show the Regents’ appreciation of the winners’ efforts to improve undergraduate education throughout the UW System.
UW System President Kevin P. Reilly added that the teaching excellence awards are an important way for the university to recognize, and reward, the system’s most dedicated and gifted faculty and staff.
“These winners have proven their commitment to teaching excellence, and are a model for teaching across the UW System,” Reilly said. “Our students are fortunate to have faculty and staff of this caliber, and it’s our job to retain these and other talented educators in order to maintain quality in the UW System.”
For more information about the achievements of each winner, see their respective profiles:
- Profile of Eric M. Anderson, professor of wildlife, UW-Stevens Point
- Profile of Denise Scheberle, professor of public and environmental affairs, UW-Green Bay
- Profile of Department of Physics, UW-La Crosse
Professor of Wildlife, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
2004 Regents Teaching Excellence Award Recipient
Background and Experience (Selected)
- Joined the UW-Stevens Point faculty in 1990.
- Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University .
- Has taught 25 courses at UW-Stevens Point over the past 14 years, ranging from class sizes of 1 (independent studies) to 270, and from freshman to graduate levels.
- Led international study abroad groups of up to 40 UW-Stevens Point students to Europe, Australia and Costa Rica. Independently organized and led a semester-long study abroad program to New Zealand.
- Has received over $135,000 in grants to support research and teaching.
- Has developed several interactive CD-Roms for students and others, which serve as identification guides for birds, mammals and amphibians.
- Leadership role in the integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into the Wildlife Curriculum.
- Faculty Advisor for UW-Stevens Point’s Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society, 1998-present. Over 200 members and 26 ongoing projects make this the largest and most active wildlife student chapter in the U.S.
- Over 20 presentations at professional wildlife conferences on results of research conducted with graduate and undergraduate students, six of which were invited presentations to speak at national meetings of the Land Trust Alliance and provide workshops for natural resource professionals.
- Speaks frequently to civic groups, high schools, student organizations, and general public audiences on various research and natural history topics.
In Professor Anderson’s own words:
- “Early in my career, I think I confused positive student evaluations with good teaching. They are clearly not the same. The student who learns is the most meaningful evaluation of effective teaching. The paths to that for me include soliciting constant feedback from colleagues and students, evaluating different techniques, receiving critical evaluation, and reflecting-always reflecting on what’s happening at that intersection between myself, my students, and knowledge.”
- “Teaching effectively without continuing to learn is nearly impossible, not only within the field of wildlife ecology, but also within the world of teaching strategies. Truth has a rather annoying habit of constantly shifting and realigning. Students need to be given the tools to constantly adjust to that ever-changing knowledge base. Likewise I, as an educator, need to constantly grow in my understanding and awareness of what we are discovering (or have discovered in the past) about the process of learning and teaching.”
- “Teaching is who I am, not what I do as a profession. It engages every part of me-my intellect, my personality, my passions-in that delicate give and take of the learning process.”
In the words of his students:
- “Dr. Anderson’s teaching style can be summed up with one word, ‘enthusiastic.’ Teaching with such emotion, encouragement, and energy should flat out exhaust him, but it doesn’t. He repeats these ‘high energy’ lectures day after day. He has a way of captivating his audience, and students feed off of his excitement and his obvious love of teaching and wildlife.”
- Jamie L. Nack, 1999 UW-Stevens Point graduate; currently Wildlife Outreach Specialist in the UW-Madison Department of Wildlife Ecology.
- “In class, [Dr. Anderson] jumps at the opportunity a ‘teachable moment’ presents, whether it is a coyote on the side of the road on the way to a guest lecture, or a question pertaining to the material presented. . . . His compassion keeps many students, including myself, striving for our goals and continuing our education. He was and always will be an outstanding role model for his students and for many of his peers.”
- Louise Venne, UW-Stevens Point graduate and former President of UW-SP Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society; currently a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University.
- “I soon realized that Eric’s interest and dedication to teaching was uncharacteristic of many university professors. I have worked with several dedicated researchers and renowned scientists during my tenure at PSU, but I have yet to encounter another professor who inspired students and genuinely cared about teaching the way that Eric did during my years at UW-SP.”
- Matthew Lovallo, UW-Stevens Point B.S. and M.S. graduate (1990 and 1993); Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University; Furbearer Bilogist, Pennsylvania Game Commission.
In the words of his colleagues:
- “Eric is by far the most talented educator with whom I’ve ever worked in my 27 years of teaching. In all my years as a student or a teacher, I have never witnessed any teacher who possessed the enthusiasm, dedication, energy and talent for motivating his students to want to learn. His dedication to students, boundless energy in and out of the classroom, and enthusiastic approach to teaching is exceptional. Students flock to Eric!”
- James W. Hardin, Professor and Discipline Coordinator of Wildlife, UW-Stevens Point
- “I cannot recall working with another colleague in 33 years of college teaching who brought so much to the classroom, day in, day out, as Eric. He not only inspires his students, he elevates the performance of his colleagues. When Eric steps in front of a class, no student nor professional observer could deny that at that moment-that class, that subject, that lecture-is the most important thing in the world to him. I have never witnessed a more inspired or a more inspiring teacher.”
- Alan Haney, Professor of Forestry and former Dean of the College of Natural Resources, UW-Stevens Point
Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
2004 Regents Teaching Excellence Award Recipient
Background and Experience (Selected)
- Joined the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay faculty in 1992; promoted to full Professor in 2002.
- Ph.D. in Political Science from Colorado State University .
- Teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Public and Non-Profit Management, Public Administration, Environmental Law, and American Government.
- Academic leadership roles focused on improving teaching and learning include: developing the UW-Green Bay Teaching Scholars Program, which provides systematic institutional support for new faculty; instituting the Academic Excellence Symposium, an annual forum recognizing excellence in students; development of an annual teaching conference.
- Teaching innovations include: in her American Government and Politics course, the development of one of the first class web sites at UW-GB and an elaborate congressional committee simulation allowing for all students in the large class to actively engage with the material; student-led Democracy Dialogues, which increase the civic participation and citizenship of Green Bay students; in her Public and Nonprofit Management course, the development of a service learning component in the course which led students to coordinate a “Steps for Change” walk to raise money to fight disease.
- Recipient of many teaching awards, including the 1997-98 Founders Association Award for Excellence in Teaching at UW-Green Bay.
- Selected as the Wisconsin Teaching Scholar for UW-Green Bay in 2003-04, and the Wisconsin Teaching Fellow for 1995-96. Sponsored by the UW System Office of Professional and Instructional Development, these programs involve competitive, systemwide professional development opportunities focused on teaching and student learning.
In Professor Scheberle’s own words:
- “Most of my classes deal with public policies-areas where thoughtful people disagree. I try to get my students to think through why they hold the opinions they do. We talk about informed opinions and where to go for more information. Then, we go there.”
- “We aim high. The world is a competitive place. I expect the very best from students and students respond by setting high goals for themselves. . . . I have used case studies, role-playing, and simulations. I divide cookies to illustrate how the U.S. Constitution allocates power. I constantly examine my teaching for more meaningful and memorable ways to meet the learning objectives for each course in a way that reinforces my philosophy of teaching. This level of engagement involves risk-sometimes I fail students. More often, I find being creative spawns creativity, interest, and understanding.”
In the words of her students:
- “I first met Denise in her American Government and Politics class, which was an entry-level class of about 250 students. I was prepared for the class to be typical of most of its size, painfully boring information recital sessions where dozing off and day dreaming are commonplace. In Denise’s class, however, this was not the case. Denise has an amazing ability to inspire very engaging discussions among her students in very large classes. Yet she is never partial about the subject matter that is discussed. In fact, it took me a whole year of probing to determine her party affiliation because she refused to let it affect her portrayal of the issues discussed in class.”
- Nathanael D. Isaacson, Student, UW-Green Bay
- “Dr. Scheberle is inventive in the classroom, without relying on entertainment to keep students interested. Whatever the subject or class size, she finds a way to facilitate debate and demonstrate how the material can be applied to issues in everyday life. She takes advantage of technology when it helps to communicate concepts or improves student accessibility. She is an expert in participatory exercises, always current on ideas that have been tried throughout the country. These activities are a mainstay in her classes, even in the large introductory courses, where she somehow modifies the exercise to work in a setting that most of us would consider impossible.”
- Dennis Weidemann, Non-traditional Student, UW-Green Bay
In the words of her colleagues:
- “Dr. Scheberle’s reputation among faculty colleagues is that she excels in every aspect of working with students. She is known for fostering learning through her use of innovative teaching strategies and techniques. She has been willing to take risks by using ‘cutting- edge’ teaching strategies and, in particular, has invested a great deal of time in trying to keep pace with technological innovations that can be used to enhance the student learning process. Dr. Scheberle also has a reputation for going out of her way to support countless undergraduate and graduate students in their pursuit of independent study and internship projects and serving as a chair and/or member of numerous masters degree thesis committees.”
- Timothy J. Sewall, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs , UW-Green Bay
- “I would describe [Denise Scheberle] as one of the most dedicated and passionate teachers I have been privileged to encounter in my thirty-two years in the academic world. I know this because she and I have had countless discussions about faculty development in general and about teaching in particular, and because together we have planned numerous activities designed to enhance and reward quality teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. I have never had a colleague with whom I have had greater opportunity to discuss the art of teaching.”
- Fergus Hughes, Professor of Human Development and Psychology, UW-Green Bay
2004 Regents Teaching Excellence Award Recipient
The Transformation of the UW-La Crosse Physics Department
A Problem Department: In the late 1980s, the UW-La Crosse Physics Department had a total of 5 majors, 5 faculty members, and a graduation rate of one major per year. The Department had received poor reviews from the University’s Academic Program Review Committee, and UW System Administration had recommended phasing out the Physics Department because of its low graduation rates.
Problem-Solving: UW-La Crosse’s administration decided to give the Physics Department a second chance by hiring a new chair and an experienced faculty member to turn the department around. Many changes were made, including a complete overhaul of the curriculum, a reconfiguring of its faculty members as effective teachers, mentors and scholars, and a re-commitment to providing an array of learning opportunities that were entirely student-centered. Specifically, the Department:
- Introduced new academic programs and emphases;
- Implemented Dual Degree Programs with four Engineering programs at four different universities, providing students who complete the program with both a B.S. in Physics from UW-La Crosse and a B.S. in engineering form the partner institution;
- Promoted and supported an abundance of research opportunities for undergraduates, with both internal and external funding;
- Built a scholarly community through weekly seminars for faculty and students;
- Revitalized the Department’s contributions to UW-La Crosse’s Teacher Education program in the sciences and ensuring the rigor of the teachers it produces;
- Engaged in aggressive recruitment of new students and new majors and followed this up with strenuous advising and retention efforts;
- Renewed their assessment of student learning based on student feedback;
- Improved outreach activities to create for themselves a vital role in the community outside the university;
- Developed a faculty mentoring program; and
- Implemented a Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics.
Successful Transformation: Through hard work, innovation and determination, all of these changes resulted in a dramatic transformation. Today, the UW-La Crosse Physics Department is the largest undergraduate Physics program in Wisconsin, going from 5 majors in 1990, to 115 in 2003-04; and from 1 graduate per year, to 24 graduates in 2003. This program is exemplary and it is nationally recognized as such. The National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics selected the Department as one of the most successful undergraduate programs in the nation, and physics departments throughout the country are following the Department’s lead and model in attempts to revitalize their programs.
In the Words of the Department’s Students
- “I first took classes in Physics at UW-L while I was a senior at a local high school. From that moment on, I knew I was in the middle of something special . . . . What makes the UW-L Physics Department special is its ability to reach students on many different levels. They achieve this through the classroom, laboratory, advising sessions, and in many activities outside of the classroom. They excel as a whole because of the diversity and professionalism of the faculty and support staff. The faculty is dedicated to their students and work. I feel that I owe my success as a graduate student to the people of the UW-L Physics Department.”
- Brian A. Kinder, 2000 UW-La Crosse Graduate; current Ph.D. student in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona and recipient of NSF Teaching Fellowship
- “One of the most extraordinary things about the Physics Department is the emphasis placed on undergraduate research. The majority of the faculty is currently doing research projects that include and depend on student involvement. Any student who wants to do research is not only strongly encouraged to get involved, but the faculty works very hard to help them get funding.”
- Amelia R. Bloom, 2004 UW-La Crosse Graduate; undergraduate recipient of Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium and NSF funding; current graduate student in Physics.
- “I was given the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research in an environment that fostered both education and creativity. This allowed me to be a part of a process that truly changed my life and that I am still deeply involved in. I believe this to be an invaluable asset to undergraduate students pursuing education in physics and something that the UW-L Physics Department can offer students that they might not find elsewhere.”
- Brian J. Sollers, 1996 UW-La Crosse Graduate; completed a Ph.D. in Physics and is currently a senior optical scientist in a small engineering firm.
Department Facts, Activities, and Resources
- Seven full-time faculty and one Academic Staff Lecturer (all with doctorates) with expertise in Astronomy, Computational Physics, Condensed Matter, Lasers, Laser Spectroscopy and Nuclear Physics;
- Physics faculty have brought in more than $850,000 in external education and research grants in the last 5 years and over $1,000,000 in equipment;
- In the last 5 years, physics faculty have published over 25 scholarly papers and made over 75 presentations at national and international conferences;
- Hosts the annual Distinguished Lecture Series in which Nobel Laureates in Physics spend two days with students and faculty giving formal seminars and informal class lectures;
- The Department Chair has given invited talks at national conferences and to several physics departments in the nation on the successful revitalization of the UW-La Crosse Physics Department.
- 115 Physics majors (18 % women and 2% minorities) with 24 Physics majors graduating in the 2002-03 academic year;
- 29 students are currently in the Biomedical concentration and Optics emphasis programs, which are part of Wisconsin’s High Tech Initiative; 22 students have pursued graduate studies in these areas;
- Aggressive and successful recruiting through student-centered advising yields high retention rates (70% in the first year and 95% for subsequent years).
- Student selected to present at the Annual Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Capitol Hill Poster Session in Washington, D.C. (4 times in last 6 years);
- Physics students have won the College of Science and Allied Health Outstanding Senior Award 3 times in the last 5 years;
- In 2004, a Physics student was selected for the Scholars Program offered by the Department of Homeland Security. She was one of 50 undergraduates in the nation selected and the only undergraduate in Physics.
- Curriculum :
- Physics major requires a minimum of 38 credits with 5 options available: Biomedical concentration, Business concentration, Astronomy emphasis, Computational Physics emphasis, and Optics emphasis;
- The Department offers 5 General Education courses, the most of any department in the College of Science and Allied Health, with over 30 distinct courses taught by Physics faculty every 3 years;
- The Department offers a Dual Degree Program in Physics and Engineering in collaboration with UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Platteville, and the University of Minnesota (more than 80 students have transferred to these programs in the last 5 years).
- A new Dual Degree program has been approved internally between the Departments of Physics and Physical Therapy.
- Weekly seminars feature undergraduate research, invited research scientists and engineers, as well as a variety of Physics Club activities;
- The Department’s outreach activities reach more than 10,000 people each year and include the Physics & Laser Light Shows performed by the Department’s faculty and students for elementary and middle school students.
- Course assessment tools and Student Evaluation of Instruction (which in Physics have ranged from 4.00 to 4.25 out of 5.00 for the past several years) are used along with program assessment techniques that include exit interview, alumni surveys, feedback from engineering and graduate institutions.
- National assessment tools for Physics and Astronomy courses are used to assess and improve the program.
- Showcased as an exemplary undergraduate Physics program by the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics, most recently in an article in the September, 2003, issue of Physics Today. Many programs are subsequently modeling themselves after the UW-La Crosse Physics program.