MADISON — The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will honor the winners of the annual Regents Teaching Excellence Awards on Friday (Sept. 13) during a ceremony at a full board meeting in Madison.

The 2002 Teaching Excellence Award winners are:

  • Leonard Gambrell, professor of political science, UW-Eau Claire
  • Keith Rice, professor of geography and geology, UW-Stevens Point
  • UW-Extension, Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development Program.

This award recognizes outstanding career achievements by individuals and an exceptional commitment to teaching by academic departments or programs. Nominees underwent a rigorous campus selection process, which included support from students.

Each winner will receive $5,000 for professional development. Regent Roger Axtell chaired the special regents committee that selected this year’s winners.

In notifying the winners, Axtell and Regent President Guy Gottschalk thanked them for their impressive dedication and contributions to undergraduate education in Wisconsin. UW System President Katharine C. Lyall said the extremely high quality of all applicants made the selection process a difficult one.

“By recognizing some of the finest of our dedicated faculty, academic staff, departments and programs, these awards reflect the UW System’s vigorous commitment to teaching,” Lyall said.

For more information about the achievements of each winner, see their respective profiles:

Supplemental Material

Profile of Leonard L. Gambrell

Professor Emeritus Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
2002 Regents Teaching Excellence Award Recipient

Background and Experience (Selected)

  • Thirty-five years as a teacher, scholar, and university citizen on the UW-Eau Claire campus.
  • Ph.D. from the University of Virginia; B.A. and M.A. from Oklahoma State University.
  • Chair of Political Science from 1992-2002, a position in which he demonstrated exemplary leadership in the recruiting, hiring and retention of new faculty focused on teaching excellence.
  • Developed courses on International Relations Theory, National Security Policy, U.S. Defense Policy, Global Politics and Business, International Political Issues, Dilemmas of War and Peace, and The Vietnam War.
  • Led several for-credit trips to Vietnam for students and community members as part of his course on Vietnam (considered a “signature class at UW-Eau Claire”).
  • Collaborated on and developed a variety of interdisciplinary courses with colleagues in the School of Nursing (World Health and Politics), and Management and Marketing (Policy for an Entire Society), among others.
  • Developed an extremely successful, credit-based mentoring program that uses top upper-division students to mentor other students in introductory classes, a formative experience for the student mentors and an inspirational model for the introductory students.
  • Taught University Outreach Courses, some of them broadcast over Wisconsin Public Radio’s University of the Air on topics like The Vietnam War, and Issues in War & Peace.
  • Co-Author of “Dilemmas of War & Peace, Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting Audio-Print course package, 1993.
  • Appointed by the Chancellor to serve as UW-Eau Claire’s representative to the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (1986-1991).
  • National Chairperson, Consortium on Peace, Research, Education and Development (COPRED) from 1979-1981, with responsibilities for program planning and grant writing.

In Professor Gambrell’s own words:

  • “Successful teaching is not at all about ‘covering’ a certain amount of material. . . . It is far better to teach a few ideas or principles well than to leave the student with a pile of notes but little understanding. If I have done my job right, students can continue to learn, on their own, about my particular subject matter for the rest of their lives. Experience has taught me that developing the capacity to think is at least as important as the specific content of a course. My success is directly related to the extent that I am able to help students develop the capacity to engage regularly in critical thinking, analysis and synthesis. These are life-long learning skills valuable in all walks of life.”
  • “Thus, my methods must include ways to engage the class on a regular basis. Seldom can there be much success if the instructor is not listening carefully to the students. This means paying careful attention to the silences as well as the puzzled looks.”

In the words of his students:

  • “Dr. Gambrell takes a marked interest in his students, pushing them to excel beyond their perceived abilities. His enthusiasm for the subject inspires students to pursue political science as a major and as a career beyond the University.”
    Erin Brandt, 2002 UW-Eau Claire Political Science Graduate
  • “[Professor Gambrell] rewarded me for all of my hard work with what I consider one of the greatest experiences as an undergraduate. The summer before my junior year, I received a letter from him. He asked me to serve as one of his mentors in his “Dilemmas of War and Peace” class. In his letter he told me that he thought I would make an excellent student teacher and that this would be a great way for me to learn to express the information I had trapped in my head. He was right. Acting as his student mentor gave me the confidence to express my opinions in front of a large group of students.”
    Ally Clark, Political Science Major, UW-Eau Claire
  • “In essence, [Professor Gambrell] taught me how to think about issues versus teaching me what to think about issues, and that valuable asset has carried me through a number of challenging situations both in and out of the classroom.”
    James Hanke, UW-Eau Claire Political science Graduate, Assistant City Planner, City of Chippewa Falls, WI

In the words of his colleagues:

  • “As Department Chair, he has particularly emphasized improvement of our Department’s teaching by his tireless work in recruitment, his encouragement to us all in the development of a wide range of teaching methods, and participation in the teaching community. As the Chair of our Department Personnel Committee, I can see his hard work paying off as we have achieved steadily improved teaching evaluations that began well above average and now are almost universally outstanding. In short, he has shown that excellence in teaching is more than just what he does with his students; it also reflects what he does as a leader in the Department and at UW-Eau Claire. . . . [As a teacher and colleague, Leonard Gambrell] made me think about issues in ways that made me a better teacher and in ways that have undoubtedly affected my students. Len is one of those colleagues that can find time to have that hour-long discussion that keeps us alive as thinkers and fights the cynicism that can too easily develop after decades of piles of papers to grade.”
    Michael Fine, Chair, Department of Political Science, UW-Eau Claire
  • “‘Learner-centered education’ is at risk of becoming another clich√©. But if you have the opportunity to watch Len Gambrell in action, you begin to understand and to appreciate what it means to put students first. While other department chairs’ first concern might be their faculty, Leonard’s first question is invariably, ‘How will this make things better for our students?'”
    Ted A. Wendt, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, UW-Eau Claire

Profile of Keith W. Rice

Professor of Geography and Geology, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
2002 Regents Teaching Excellence Award Recipient

Background and Experience (Selected)

  • Joined the UW-Stevens Point faculty in 1982.
  • Ph.D. from the University of Kansas; M.S. from Bowling Green State University; B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany.
  • Taught over 17 different courses during the past 20 years, ranging in size from 10 to 120, from freshman to graduate level.
  • Developed, implemented, and presently supervises the Cartography/Geographic Information Systems option, the Spatial Analysis & GIS minor, and the internship program within the Geography B.S. Degree program.
  • Directed 72 internships from 1992-2000 (over $100,000 awarded to students); served on over 20 graduate thesis committees for the College of Natural Resources.
  • Since 1983, there have been 38 special projects (non-internships) involving students working over multiples terms on directed research projects with public agencies or private groups.
  • Dozens of workshops and seminars presented to UW System faculty, state personnel, the Federal Government, county officials, high school teachers, and non-traditional students, including a presentation about the capabilities and usefulness of GIS to Governor Scott McCallum.
  • Received over 40 grants in excess of $750,000, from local, state, and federal sources, many of which have involved undergraduate students in research. These grants included the funding of the Geo-Web Project, which seeks to infuse internet web technology into the geography and geology classrooms throughout the UW System, and a PK-16 Initiative Grant to help integrate GIS technology into Wisconsin public schools.
  • Since 1987, Dr. Rice has involved students in map publication; several different community maps have been created, including Ice Age Trail maps, county recreational maps, etc.
  • Produced several technical reports for state agencies, as well as served as a non-paid consultant to federal, state, and local agencies (including NASA, NRCS, WI-DNR, International Crane Foundation, Portage County Planning & Zoning)

In Professor Rice’s own words:

  • “I want students to realize that education is a life-long process, and it should not stop with the awarding of the degree. Technology we teach today will be relics of tomorrow (sooner than we often think). The truths we know today may be the falsehoods of tomorrow. We teach students knowledge, but they also need to be taught to challenge and to use logic and reasoning to ascertain the truth (if one exists).”
  • “A superior teacher inspires a student to love learning, and nourishes their development of reason. The methods among us will vary but the student is the evidence of success or failure. I know I have achieved my goal in teaching if my students have not only gained knowledge of a subject, but also have gained independence, and self-confidence in themselves to continue the learning process in both their professional and personal life.”

In the words of his students:

  • “Dr. Rice works very hard for his profession, but more importantly for his students. His talents are very marketable in his profession, yet he’s chosen to stay in a relatively small school and town where he can focus on passing his knowledge to a new generation of geographers. He’s not only an extraordinary individual who immediately puts you at ease with his light-hearted and gregarious nature, but is an intellectual with a vast amount of knowledge, passion for his profession, and sincere compassion and understanding.”
    – Rod Bassler, UW-Stevens Point Geography Graduate, GIS Coordinator, North Dakota State Water Commission
  • “One question that I have heard asked of Dr. Rice is, ‘Why doesn’t he work for a private company where he would be able to use his knowledge to make more money?’ It is not the money, so what is it? The students! He loves to teach! From early morning until late into the night, often 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., he will be found on the third floor of the Science Building either preparing for the next day, grading lab work or answering questions. . . Let his commitment to students never be questioned!”
    – Justin Conner, UW-Stevens Point Geography Graduate, GIS Technician working for a Wisconsin engineering consulting firm.
  • “Dr. Rice’s commitment to teaching excellence and passionate interest in geography made him one of the most effective teachers I encountered during my college career. His enthusiasm for the discipline and commitment initially stimulated my interest in geography and motivated me to pursue a career with a focus in the area of Geographic Information Systems.”
    – Thomas L. Willems, 1996 UW-Stevens Point Geography Graduate, District Archaeologist in the U.S. Forest Service in South Dakota

In the words of his colleagues:

  • “When [Keith] arrived at UW-SP, opportunities in the Cartography option in the Department of Geography and Geology consisted of only one course. Within three years, Keith introduced five new geography courses, and he subsequently developed three additional courses. Today, through Keith’s dedication, UW-SP has one of the strongest undergraduate Cartography/Geographic Information Systems programs in the country. He literally built the option from scratch through a tireless dedication to students, excellent teaching skills, and an impressive grantsmanship.”
    – Benjamin Ofori-Amoah, Chair, Department of Geography and Geology, UW-Stevens Point
  • “In thirty years of university teaching, I don’t believe I have ever known or encountered a professor more dedicated to his students than Keith is. He is tireless in his commitment to their development and success. For example, he spends many hours in each of his courses evaluating and grading student maps and exercises. He makes himself available late in the evenings and on weekends to students who need his help on laboratory and other assignments. Keith’s students and department colleagues often marvel at his seemingly boundless energy and dedication; he sets the bar high for new faculty in our department.”
    – Gary C. Meyer, Professor of Geography, UW-Stevens Point

Profile of the Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development Program

University of Wisconsin-Extension
2002 Regents Teaching Excellence Award Recipient

In the Program’s Own Words:

  • Vision: 4-H Youth Development serves as a catalyst for positive community youth development
  • Mission: UW-Extension 4-H Youth Development integrates research, education, and community-based partnerships, enabling youth to learn and practice skills to be productive citizens.
  • “In its centennial year 4-H is stronger and more relevant to Wisconsin’s youth and communities than ever. 4-H continues to reach out to youth to provide skill-building in communications, organization, and decision-making as well as leadership development for Wisconsin’s rural and urban youth. Hands-on activities range from the arts and computers to rocketry, environmental education, animal sciences, and volunteer involvement.”
    – Kevin Reilly, Chancellor, UW-Extension

Program Facts, Activities, and Resources

  • 4-H Youth Development is one of four program areas in UW-Extension’s Cooperative Extension Division. 4-H YD has a dual focus: providing educational programs for youth, and youth development leadership for communities. This work is done to enrich the individual lives of participants and their families. It also benefits the public and society at large by fostering the development of productive citizens and their participation in democracy.
  • Personnel:
    • 85 County faculty and staff provide leadership for county 4-H youth programs, and serve as catalysts, collaborators, and technical resources to mobilize support for Youth Development;
    • Campus faculty and staff include 11.5 professionals and 5.5 classified staff who provide curriculum and program development, manage state programs, and serve as resources in Youth Development and Volunteer Leadership;
    • The Upham Woods Environmental Education Center includes a total of 7.5 academic and classified staff and seasonal naturalists.
  • Youth Participation:
    • There are 2,200 4-H clubs in Wisconsin with a total of 44,000 members;
    • Over 178,000 youth participate in special interest and school enrichment programs organized by 4-H;
    • Over 10,000 youth attend programs at Upham Woods Environmental Education Center.
  • Volunteer Leadership:
    • 22,000 adults and 5,000 youth volunteer their support and time for 4-H.
  • All told, Wisconsin 4-H involves about 215,000 youth and adults statewide, not including the thousands of people in Wisconsin communities whose lives are touched by 4-H projects, activities and public service contributions.


The 4-H Youth Development Program in Wisconsin began in 1914 with a focus on rural youth and agricultural content. The goal of the program at that time was to broaden the use of new agricultural practices and improve the life of rural communities. Young people were seen as the vehicle for transmitting new knowledge to sometimes skeptical adults. University faculty and staff were the primary sources of this new knowledge; they traveled extensively teaching and demonstrating new techniques directly to youth and their families.

Following World War II, the focus began to shift from transmitting agricultural knowledge to formulating programs that promoted human development. Community volunteers played a larger role in shaping the 4-H program’s direction and in implementing programs targeting local needs. University personnel gave primary attention to training volunteers, who then taught the youth members. By the 1970s, 4-H program offerings were expanding in an effort to attract non-farm youth and youth in Wisconsin’s urban areas. Indeed, in the last 20 years, the 4-H program has become more responsive to the challenges encountered by young people growing up in today’s culture, and to the increasing diversity of Wisconsin’s population.

Teaching as a Public, Collaborative Activity

  • “Teaching,” as practiced by the Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development Program could not be more public and more collaborative: all of the teaching is community-based, whether through the direct interaction of 4-H faculty with Wisconsin youth or through the myriad training programs conducted by 4-H personnel for community-based leaders and volunteers of 4-H activities.
  • 4-H personnel have direct access to university specialists in youth development. Delivering this research-based knowledge to the community is fundamental to UW-Extension’s institutional mission and practice.

Thoughtfully Constructed Programs

  • Two programs which reveal both the extent to which teaching is public and collaborative, and the thoughtfulness and rigor of 4-H programs are: 1) the National Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century; and 2) the Power of Youth Pledge Campaign.
    • The National Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century marked the 4-H centennial by creating national, statewide and local forums in which 4-H faculty and staff brought together youth, political leaders, educators, representatives of youth development organizations, volunteers, community leaders and parents. Conversations were held throughout the centennial year on the local, state, and national level. Wisconsin 4-H faculty, staff and youth participated at each of these levels.
    • The Power of Youth Pledge Campaign is another program designed to commemorate the 4-H centennial. 4-H youth and adults were asked to make pledges of their time to community service. In March 2002, Wisconsin led the nation with more than 330,000 hours of community service pledged for the year. At minimum wage, this contribution is valued at more than two million dollars.
  • The Wisconin 4-H Youth Development Program assesses its programs through the PAAT, the Program and Activity Assessment Tool. This tool was developed by faculty to answer the question: “How do we know if these programs and activities are successful in assisting youth to develop into healthy and productive adults?” Assessment focuses on consensus-building on best practices, reflection on individual programs, activities and resources, and self-reflection on the part of participants regarding the contributions they have made.

A Positive Climate for Student Learning

  • 4-H teaches self-confidence, leadership skills, and develops young people into active, engaged citizens.
  • 4-H reaches out to Wisconsin’s increasingly diverse population, as evidenced by the following examples: Milwaukee’s 4-H provides tutoring and a safe haven for urban youth; Winnebago and Outagamie Counties’ 4-H help Hmong communities – youth and adults – learn about American culture.
  • Studies show that compared to others, 4-H participants are more likely to succeed in school, become leaders in school, and help others in the community. The same research indicates that 4-H youth are less likely than other youth to shoplift or steal, use illegal drugs, smoke cigarettes, vandalize property, or skip school.
  • 4-H gives youth direct experience with democratic practices and electoral processes. Every year, 8,000 youth win offices in local 4-H clubs. As club leaders, they gain experience conducting meetings and leading groups in decision-making activities.
  • 4-H teaches important skills and attitudes that employers look for: teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills.

In the Words of 4-H Participants

  • “I have been involved in 4-H for most of my life and I would be a very different person if I had not joined my first 4-H club. Four years ago I founded a web design company with two friends, one of them was also involved in 4-H. We began with $150 total and now have downtown office space, another employee, and we own all of our equipment. I simply wouldn’t have the interpersonal and business skills necessary at such a young age without the schooling of monthly 4-H meetings, fair projects, and record books. 4-H has challenged me when my schooling has not been challenging. It has taught me to strive for my goals in spite of what others may think. 4-H helped me gain confidence to be able to accomplish my goals.My most recent trip to Washington for the National Conversation on Youth Development was the best experience I’ve had in my life so far. I met several key government officials and made new friends. I learned that there is a lot more to the world than just Northwestern Wisconsin. But most of all I learned that I want and need to be a part of something bigger than myself. I think that is the best gift any youth development program can give to their community, their country, and their world.”
    – Benjamin Damman, Spooner, WI
  • “I have been involved with the 4-H Youth Development programs in Wisconsin since I was old enough to join 4-H – 45 years ago. The 4-H Youth Development programs in Wisconsin have always inspired me and provided 4-H leaders like myself with the resources to successfully facilitate learning in a wide variety of projects and life skills for thousands of youth. It was always a source of pride to be involved with an organization that continually seeks to meet the ever-evolving needs of youth in today’s society. I was, however, never so proud to be affiliated with 4-H Youth Development in Wisconsin as I was during the Centennial Conversations on Youth Development.


    As an adult participant in the Centennial Conversations, I was in a state of continual amazement. The conversations gave a voice to youth concerns, validated them, and encouraged youth to go forward and facilitate change. What an honor it was for me to be even a small part of that process. As participating adults, we were given insight into the endless possibilities our future will hold.”
    – Diane Simon, Executive Director, United Way of Dunn County, Menomonie, WI

Media Contact

Linda Weimer UW System (608) 262-0766