MADISON – Four UW System teachers will receive $5,000 awards as recipients of the 1999 Alliant Energy “Underkofler Excellence in Teaching” Awards at a ceremony on October 15.

The four recipients are:

  • Ann Burgess, senior lecturer and director of biology core curriculum, UW-Madison;
  • Michael Compton, associate professor of horticulture and biotechnology, UW-Platteville;
  • Fred Fenster, professor of art, UW-Madison; and
  • Kimberly Kostka, associate professor of chemistry, UW-Rock County.

The Underkofler awards are presented annually by Alliant Energy to recognize and reward outstanding teachers at UW System institutions within the company’s service area. The awards are funded by a $250,000 endowment from the utility’s foundation in honor of James R. Underkofler, who served as Wisconsin Power and Light Company chairman of the board from 1982 until his retirement in 1990. The awards pay tribute to Underkofler’s enduring interest in encouraging and promoting undergraduate teaching excellence.

UW System President Katharine Lyall commended the recipients for their commitment and dedication. “We are fortunate to have such high quality teachers who are dedicated to innovative teaching that inspires students to learn.”

Ann Burgess has taught Biology Core Curriculum at UW-Madison since 1973 and is currently its director. This program is widely recognized as a model of what undergraduate education should be. Burgess is active in several UW-Madison and national efforts to improve science education.

In a letter of nomination for Burgess, student Christian Krautkramer wrote that Professor Burgess should be selected for this award, “not just because of her drive and enthusiasm, but because of the drive and enthusiasm that she placed in so many students.”

Michael Compton has been an associate professor of horticulture and biotechnology at UW-Platteville since 1995. He is currently developing an Ornamental Horticulture major that includes several new course offerings and many revisions of existing courses.

Former student Jason Jaworski wrote that Compton “is devoted to giving his students the best education they can receive while attending UW-Platteville.”

He added, “Dr. Compton creates an interactive classroom atmosphere which is interesting and challenging.”

Fred Fenster has taught in the Art Departmart at UW-Madison since 1961. Fenster is also a world renowned artist and expert in working with pewter.

Matthew Hollern, a former student of Fenster, wrote, “He lives to learn, to understand things, and to share what he knows. Through his own obvious curiosity he encourages students to investigate, to understand things and to do something, to be innovative.”

Kimberly Kostka has taught chemistry at UW-Rock County since 1993. Kostka’s dedication and accomplishments earned her an early tenure and promotion to Associate Professor.

“Professor Kostka is adept at fostering a sense of independence and self-confidence in her students, while at the same time never neglecting to make herself available to her students for support and inspiration,” wrote student Jennifer Barton.


Sharyn Wisniewski
(608) 262-6448