Thirteen faculty members will be honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching during the annual Faculty Awards Convocation Thursday, April 24 at 10 a.m. in the Alys Stephens Center Sirote Theatre.
Other featured award winners include the 2007 Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching and the 2008 Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award (see story, Page 8).
The 2008 honorees for the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching represent each school and the Joint Health Sciences departments.
Arts & Humanities
Pence, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy, has taught medical ethics at UAB for 30 years. His research focuses on emerging ethical issues in medicine, including cloning, genetics and issues at both ends of life. He testified before a Congressional Subcommittee about embryonic and reproductive cloning in 2001. Students say Pence’s “enthusiasm, experience and passion for the topics of bioethics and philosophy enabled him to make class intellectually stimulating, invigorating and insightful — even for students who lacked deep philosophical background.” Others say he has “the unparalled ability to motivate and inspire his students to be well-read, educated and compassionate physicians.” Pence has written two books (Who’s Afraid of Human Cloning and Cloning After Dolly: Who’s Still Afraid?) and has lectured at more than 200 American medical schools and universities and other institutions in China, Israel, Canada, Australia, London and Portugal.
Tanju, Ph.D., a professor in accounting and information systems, has a reputation as a strong, caring classroom teacher for more than 30 years. Students say the experiences they have had in his classes have equipped them with the “critical thinking skills important to becoming successful in the business arena.” Colleagues say Tanju “does whatever it takes, whenever needed, to enhance the education and professional experience of students during their time at UAB, and for many, during their alumni years as well.” He also coordinates the annual “September Professional Development Program” jointly sponsored by the department and three Birmingham-area professional organizations. As evidence of the appreciation of the professional community, the sponsoring organizations have committed to endow a scholarship in Murat’s name from the profits of the program.
Hsu, D.D.S., is the director of removable prosthodontics in the Department of Prosthodontics. He supervises clinical prosthodontics in the graduate clinic and intermediary prosthodontics. Students are constantly seeking his instruction and say he is “an engaging and interactive teacher, incorporating case studies with detailed visuals in to his classroom lectures to illustrate the fabrication of complete, single, immediate, implant-retained and removable partial dentures.” Students appreciate his willingness to help them inside and outside of class, saying he “has an uncanny ability to make students feel at ease. He doesn’t just instruct students, he is willing to get involved, follow through and go the extra mile to help his students and peers succeed.”
Hunter, Ph.D., is one of the foremost scholars within the School of Education, and colleagues say he “sets an excellent example of how scholarship drives the teaching, mentoring, advising and service-related aspects of faculty work.” His primary discipline is exercise science, and he is a reviewer for approximately 20 journals, national and international. Since 2000, Hunter has collaborated with students on nearly 80 publications. Colleagues say he helps establish personal intellectual curiosity in students by demonstrating and sharing his own intellectual curiosity. Students say Hunter emphasizes “the importance of developing practical expertise, and in undertaking rigorous data collection” while impressing on them that they are in the dynamic field of scholarship and they must “maintain currency of understanding through lifelong learning.”
Dean, Ph.D., gained much of his hands-on experience and knowledge as the Polymer Physics Team Leader at the B F Goodrich Corporation and as the Polymer Morphology Team Leader for the Materials Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory. Colleagues say one of the keys to Dean’s success in teaching has been his “desire to mentor students at any level and his ability to instill a desire for life-long learning and professional development.” Students aren’t just grateful for his classroom instruction, but what he has provided for them outside of class. One student, after asking for advice on which graduate school to pursue, said he realized Dean is more than a teacher. “He’s also a man that I can go to for advice, help, or if I just need to talk to someone about school in general.”
Since joining the SHP faculty as an assistant professor in 2001, Paustian has made considerable and sustained contributions to the program, the department and the school. Paustian has one of the highest teaching loads in the department and is continuing her own education. She is enrolled in doctoral-level courses in the School of Education and intends to specialize in educational leadership and strategy. Students laud her “energy and excitement” in the classroom and that she is “always available and willing to consult with students on coursework, professional development and even takes an interest in their personal development as individuals.” Colleagues say she “combines a very high quantity of teaching with outstanding quality of teaching.”
Joint Health Sciences
In the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, McMahon, Ph.D., has consistently demonstrated that she is an outstanding educator who is committed to excellence in teaching. The associate professor has established a student journal club in the department, helped develop a weekly summer seminar series in which graduate students are required to present their research and teaches in the neurobiology and neuroscience graduate courses. One colleague says her success in transforming the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate program may “serve as the basis for changing the course of all graduate programs in the School of Medicine.” One student said McMahon’s teaching style is “inspirational because it not only encourages student learning of the subject matter, but also – and perhaps more important – instills a passion for science and the pursuit of knowledge.”
Reiff, M.D., director of Undergraduate Surgical Education, has demonstrated that he is a dynamic educator of both undergraduate medical students and resident house staff for the Department of Surgery. His influence on the Birmingham surgical clerkship and its participants is evident in that a large number of students from this year’s graduating class are entering a general surgical residency, bucking the national trend for this specialty. Reiff is known for taking students on teaching rounds through the ICU and reviewing the teaching points of trauma/ICU management that might not be discussed on work rounds. One resident says he “will review a topic in a small group discussion format, and then take that group directly to a patient’s bedside to further illustrate and enhance the students’ experience.” This better enables students to apply clinical principles of patient care.
Natural Sciences & Mathematics
Watkins’ dedication to teaching in a broad range of chemistry courses, including one of the most challenging undergraduate physical chemistry classes, has been an important asset to the school. In 37 years of service as an educator and mentor, colleagues say Watkins, Ph.D., has demonstrated an unprecedented passion and dedication in the classroom teaching of undergraduate courses that require innovative teaching skills, constant updating of the subject matter and motivating students to remain focused on the course contents. One student recruited to UAB by Watkins did not take a class from him until her junior year. However, the student says he “encouraged me to become involved with research as early as possible, which has opened my future to many possibilities.” Students also appreciate his how he presents “true-to-life examples” in the classroom that enable them to relate the class to the outside world and understand the material more thoroughly.
Greenwood, Ph.D., has taught High Acuity of the Adult and Critical Care Nursing of the Adult, worked with honors students, mentored masters teaching certificate students and served on a dissertation committee. A student said one characteristic that distinguishes Greenwood is that she “encourages hard work and dedication in the most supportive and caring way that makes her a real nursing role model.” Another student lauded Greenwood for her steadfast support when she had to withdraw from nursing school for a time. Greenwood had the student sign a contract stating, “I will complete my nursing degree no matter where life takes me.” The student put the contract in the visor of her car and it traveled with her through three states and back to Alabama. The student now is in her last semester of school because “one instructor made me feel exceptional.”
Hopkins, O.D., an associate professor of optometry, demonstrates excellence in didactic teaching of Anomalies of Binocular Vision Part I and in clinical teaching in the Pediatric Clinic. Hopkins is involved in local research and obtained NIH funding for a national, multi-center clinical trial that likely will have a large impact in the area of binocular vision and vision therapy. One colleague who has observed Hopkins’ teaching skills says she can turn “a dry lecture on dyslexia into a highly interactive lesson on reading and neurological function as the students become different parts of the brain with different responsibilities.” A former student calls Hopkins a role model and says she has “influenced me to pursue a career in education and she since has helped me to improve myself as an educator.”
Sathiakumar, D.P.H., an associate professor of epidemiology, has advised 44 master’s students and served on 13 doctoral committees since 1994. In addition, she has mentored 30 international trainees who are senior and mid-level academicians. She has provided students with the opportunity to acquire practical experience and research skills necessary to become effective and productive public health professionals, nationally and internationally. She has done this by helping them design studies, write research proposals, develop research instruments, obtain institutional review board approvals, find funding, collect data, conduct data analysis and develop papers. One student was struck by the progressive nature of her research in integrating Environmental Epidemiology and Research Methods of Epidemiology. “Her ability to discuss her knowledge in an understandable manner to students very new to the field demonstrates her willingness to work with students so they have a strong foundation to build upon.”
Social & Behavioral Sciences
Howell-Moroney, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of public administration in the master of public administration program in the Department of Government. In his five years at UAB he has shown to be creative in his teaching, engaging in the classroom and committed to student learning. His repertoire is as broad as it is deep, colleagues say, and he teaches courses that notoriously are challenging for students. His research work on the complex linkages between systems of metropolitan governance, urban sprawl and economic/racial segregation has appeared in several leading publications in the fields of public administration and urban affairs. Students say Howell-Moroney does an excellent job of teaching complex material. One says he “utilizes his mastery of the subjects covered to deliver masterful presentations of the concepts and facts required of his students.”