2015 Teaching Award Winners
At its September 1993 meeting, the Board of Governors adopted a report on Tenure and Teaching in the University of North Carolina. The report, prepared jointly by the Board’s Committee on Personnel and Tenure and its Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs, reaffirmed the Board’s insistence that teaching is the primary responsibility of each of the 17 constituent institutions of the University. To underscore the importance of teaching and to encourage, identify, recognize, reward, and support good teaching within the University, the Board adopted a set of six specific recommendations, including the following:
That the Board of Governors create annual systemwide teaching awards with monetary stipends which are designated “Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching.”
Each recipient is honored at their respective campus Spring commencement ceremony by a member of the Board of Governors and receives a $12,500 stipend and a bronze medallion.
Appalachian State University
Dr. Jennifer L. Burris
Dr. Jennifer L. Burris, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Appalachian State University, joined the faculty in 2007. She employs diverse methods in teaching students, including traditional lectures, research, individual student mentoring, grants, and programs. Dr. Burris’s Department Chair noted, “It is rare to find someone who embraces such a deep commitment to teaching in every aspect of their role as faculty.”
Appalachian State University recognized Dr. Burris’s dedication in 2013 with the Harvey R. Durham Outstanding Freshman Advocate Award, honoring one employee each year whose performance contributed significantly to improving the freshman experience. Dr. Burris is constantly working to improve her style and method of teaching. She believes in a three-stage development path for students. First, a successful teacher adapts to students’ individual learning needs. Second, faculty should foster broad-based opportunities to develop interest, success, and ownership of lessons and concepts. Third, students deserve guidance to refine their aptitude as critical thinkers, generating lifelong skills that transition from the classroom to real world problems and issues. One student observed, “During my time in class with her, I saw students spellbound and attentive. Her presentation of physics is compelling and energetic. From the over-arching teaching strategy, down to the particular daily details, she gets it right.”
A former Assistant Editor for the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) peerreviewed publication, The Physics Teacher, she continues as a manuscript reviewer. She chaired the organizing committee for the Spring 2014 North Carolina AAPT conference, spoke (through invitation) at the Fall 2014 North Carolina AAPT conference at University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and accepted an invitation to speak at the Summer 2015 National conference.
In 2011, Dr. Burris co-founded the Appalachian State University Biophysics and Optical Sciences Facility (BiyOSeF) and associated research group, incorporating high quality, multidisciplinary, externally funded research that involves a large number of student researchers. The current research group includes 20 students, and Dr. Burris is primary mentor to ten of them. She has mentored a total of 29 students since 2007, and the students’ record includes 49 presentations and receipt of 33 grants, fellowships, and summer stipends.
As Graduate Program Director, Dr. Burris advises and mentors 28 Engineering Physics Master’s students. A recent graduate of the program commented, “I am working for a multinational company that has ranked in the top 50 companies in the United States to work for. I have a bright career path thanks to my education. I truly do not believe that I would be where I am today if not for Dr. Burris’s support. She was always taking every opportunity to teach me things, even when I was not in the classroom. I believe I was able to grow as a person because of her knowledge and experiences.”
Dr. Burris earned her BS (1996) in Applied Science with a concentration in Physics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her MS (1998) and PhD (2003) in Physics from Colorado State University.
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East Carolina University
Dr. Carol Goodwillie
Dr. Carol Goodwillie, East Carolina University’s 2015 nominee for the Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award, is associate professor in the Department of Biology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Since joining the faculty in 2001, Dr. Goodwillie has published 27 papers in peer-reviewed journals, involving undergraduate researchers in six of them; made 25 scholarly presentations; received, with colleagues, almost $700,000 in education and research grants; and served as associate editor of the American Journal of Botany and on numerous grant review panels and journal review boards.
Dr. Goodwillie believes that the integration of teaching and scholarship lies at the core of the mission of a university. In her 14 years at ECU, she says, “teaching has invigorated and often guided the course of my research, and research activities have served as important tools to engage and train students in biological concepts, methods, and the scientific process.” Her chair and colleagues say she is “a talented scientist and marvelous teacher . . . [who] brings these gifts together as a natural, authentic, and effective mentor.”
Dr. Goodwillie embraces active learning and has incorporated inquiry-based methods into all of her classes from genetics to evolutionary theory to field botany. The net result is lively, interactive classes largely devoid of the traditional monologue characteristic of many large class lectures. She says, “I find that my students learn most effectively when I encourage them to be scientific explorers, to observe, analyze, and test hypotheses both inside and outside the classroom.” The popularity of her courses, even the most difficult, attests to the success of her methods. She continues to develop her courses, recently adding a service learning project where students identify and remove invasive plants from local parks. Using principles of Universal Design for Learning, she has incorporated multiple means of teaching to meet learner differences and enhance the success of all students.
Recognition of her outstanding teaching includes being named to the ECU CollegeSTAR “Top Ten” List of Effective Teachers (2014), an ECU Scholar-Teacher (2013), and a recipient of the ECU Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award (2008). A former student said of her, “I can only hope that someday I will be half the teacher and mentor Dr. Goodwillie is . . . . She exemplifies teaching when she is not even trying, she goes beyond the classroom to help her students and she relates her materials to students’ everyday lives so her students do not simply memorize the required material.” A classroom observer wrote: “[Dr. Goodwillie] is highly organized, very knowledgeable, extremely engaging, and exhibits a wonderful level of enthusiasm …. She has a tremendous classroom presence . . . her instructional talents are of the highest caliber.”
Dr. Goodwillie earned the Bachelors of Music Degree in flute performance at Oberlin College, the BS in Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Boston (summa cum laude), the PhD in Botany from the University of Washington, and completed post-doctoral work at the University of British Columbia.
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Elizabeth City State University
Dr. Ephraim Tobela Gwebu
Dr. Ephraim Tobela Gwebu is a full Professor of Physiological Chemistry (Biochemistry) in the Herman G. Cooke Department of Natural Sciences at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). He joined the university in 2003 and served as Chairperson of the Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics until it was merged to form the Department of Natural Sciences in 2013.
Dr. Gwebu believes that every student has the potential for academic success. To enable his students to realize their potential, he practices transformational teaching that extends learning beyond the transmission of content and skills. He develops self-motivated learners with the capacity to critique and direct their own conceptual thinking; thus guiding, motivating and assisting them through the academic maturation process. The following quotations from students attest to Dr. Gwebu’s effectiveness and impact as a teacher.
A current student wrote “Since the day I walked into his office at the end of my freshman year, he has demonstrated a sincere concern for his students and professionalism. It is primarily due to his continued concern for the success of his students, his ability to teach and share his knowledge with students, and willingness to fully collaborate with peers; I fully recommend Dr. Gwebu for the Teacher of the Year Award”.
One former student accepted into several PhD programs wrote: “His unrelenting desire to see my colleagues and I succeed, has pushed us to heights that we ourselves could not have imagined.”
During his service as Chairperson of the Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics (2003 -2013), the number of chemistry majors increased from 10 to 66 by 2009. Focused on student success, he instituted intervention strategies that improved scores on Major Field Tests, with one student scoring at the 90 percentile in 2013. In the area of sponsored research, Dr. Gwebu was awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling over $5.3 million for student research training programs which directly benefited over two hundred underrepresented minority juniors and seniors in the biology, chemistry, physics, pharmaceutical science, sociology, psychology, communication and social work disciplines. These NIH grants included the Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) Program, where students received 10 weeks of research training at universities in Southern Africa on diabetes and drug discovery, all expenses paid; the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), with participants receiving campus-based research training; and Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research , with participants receiving over $23,000 annually in stipends, tuition, summer internships and travel expenses.
Dr. Gwebu’s mentorship in grantsmanship of faculty resulted in 70% of the faculty in the Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics with external funding in 2011, an increase of 20% from 2003. He was recipient of the 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Academic Leadership, Grantsmanship, Mentorship of Faculty/Students and International Collaboration. Dr. Gwebu is a member of the NIH Scientific Review Group and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Accrediting Board for Undergraduate Biochemistry Programs.
Dr. Gwebu earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Education from the University of Sierra Leone, West Africa and a PhD in Physiological Chemistry at The Ohio State University. He also received a research fellowship in Epidemiology (Tropical Diseases) from Johns Hopkins University.
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Fayetteville State University
Dr. Annie McCullough Chavis, MSW
Dr. Annie McCullough Chavis is best described as a consummate academician, hard worker and a dedicated educator who exemplifies enthusiasm and passion for teaching. Although Dr. Chavis earned her doctorate later in life in 2002 after working fulltime as a faculty member, she truly enjoys teaching and learning from students. As an alumna of Fayetteville State University she aspires to teach and offer students the nurturing and quality of education she received as a student which included the ability to reach goals and empower oneself despite almost insurmountable odds. Dr. Chavis lives and breathes to teach social work and to motivate students to achieve a superior level of competence. It’s clear that her efforts have not gone unnoticed when a colleague asserts, “She clearly possesses the remarkable ability to achieve sustained levels of substantive student engagement in courses universally considered to be unusually challenging and difficult within the arena of professional social work education”.
Dr. Chavis’ service is practically beyond measure. She served on both committee for the MSW and BSW proposals, but it was the BSW proposals that she chaired and provided substantial leadership to establish the undergraduate degree. She has served as the UNC Faculty General Assembly Representative and on numerous department, college and university committees including Tenure, Promotion and Reappointment, Academic Affairs, Evaluations, Assessment and Accreditation, and Search Committees. Dr. Chavis has represented the University well through her widespread community service which includes services for the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County Schools, Mental Health, Cumberland County Department of Social Services, Junior League, and Methodist University. Her research interests are reflected in her publication record and include culturally competent pioneering work concerning genograms as well as African American families, family social work practice, cultural competency in social work practice, school social work, and African American teaching.
Dr. Chavis’ philosophy of teaching has evolved over years of teaching. She believes her task as an educator is to foster learning in a compassionate and proficient environment for lifelong and global learning. She states it is her desire to partner with students to offer the knowledge, skills, and values that will assist them to be critical and analytical thinkers. Dr. Chavis asserts that teaching and learning are interrelated as they are shared and varied experiences between the teacher and student.
One of her students writes, “The quality in which Dr. Chavis represents herself as a professor is astounding. She treats students in the manner that exemplifies dignity, always communicating with them as she expects them to be rather than where they are. This very thing is what influences her students to strive and grow beyond any level they may have dreamed. Dr. Chavis not only displays a solid understanding of the material and subject matter she teaches, but she knows how to teach the content very well. Her teaching style provides comfort and reassurance to students while challenging them to yield academic excellence. She is an amazing professor and one of the most influential professors I have ever experienced.”
Another student writes, “For three consecutive semesters I have sat under the teaching and leadership of Dr. Chavis, by choice, and what I have found is that she is firmly committed to the belief that all students can succeed and learn. With her loving and direct guidance her students continuously achieve her high expectations. Dr. Chavis is highly organized, innovative, talented and dynamic in her teaching. She is always encouraging and motivating students to go beyond the text books by incorporating additional teaching materials, and exercises”.
One graduate affirms Dr. Chavis’ talent for teaching noting that: “She has the gift of finding the potential in each of her students and empowering them to reach their strongest abilities inside and outside of the classroom. Dr. Chavis’ teaching methods extend far beyond what is taught in any textbook. In all of her classes, she places a high standard on critical thinking and professional writing skills”.
Dr. Chavis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Fayetteville State University; a Master of Social Work from the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Fayetteville State University.
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North Carolina A&T State University
Dr. Jerono P. Rotich
Dr. Jerono P. Rotich is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Performance and Leisure Studies in the School of Education. She has been a faculty member at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) since 2005. Dr. Rotich specializes in the areas of health, fitness, and safety and has developed a unique UNC-supported distance education Global Studies course that allows N.C. A&T students to learn and interact (via real-time videoconference) with students in China, Senegal, and India.
Dr. Rotich is a passionate, energetic, and creative instructor, challenging and inspiring her students to reach their full potential. She is committed to transforming their lives through her teaching, student organization leadership, community engagement, and advising. Students and colleagues alike praise her commitment, enthusiasm, integrity, and genuine concern for students inside and outside the classroom. Her goal is to produce “change agents, critical thinkers, bridge builders, and global leaders who can … serve as advocates and role models in a diverse and technologically advanced global society.”
To accomplish this goal, she implements a wide variety of student-centered teaching practices that fully involve students in the learning process. As noted by one of her colleagues: “Dr. Rotich engages students in all kinds of activities that give students the opportunity to apply knowledge in ways that will impact their lives beyond the university, including web-based technology, peer teaching, role-playing, debates and research. … Her students love her innovative teaching style, creative activities, service-learning opportunities and the amazing opportunity to link with and learn with students from other countries.”
Echoing this sentiment, one of her students describes his experience in Dr. Rotich’s Global Understanding course: “The amazing thing was that we connected ‘real time’ with students in Africa and China and we learned together, interacted in class discussions, did group projects and built friendships with them via (a variety of) innovative technologies. …Overall the class inspired me to think globally and not just within the United States. I was so inspired and I am so ready to travel abroad because Dr. Rotich and this class helped us understand that we have so much in common with people from other cultures and countries.”
Dr. Rotich is truly making a difference in the lives of her students, her colleagues, and the department, by always seeking new ways to improve the teaching and learning process. Throughout, she keeps her students and their development in the forefront, humbly gratified when she engages them in learning about themselves, their community, and the world.
Dr. Rotich received her BSc in Education (specializing in Physical and Health Education) from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya; her MSEd in Education (Physical Education Pedagogy) from the State University of New York at Brockport; and her PhD in Exercise and Sports Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
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North Carolina Central University
Dr. Karen Keaton Jackson
Dr. Karen Keaton Jackson is an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writing Studio and University Writing Program at North Carolina Central University. A native of Detroit, Michigan, she has served at North Carolina Central University for the past ten years. At its core, her philosophy of teaching echoes the thoughts of scholar John Dewey from so many years ago: Learning for students is both an intellectual and an emotional experience. Moreover, she believes that one’s teaching methods must reflect the student population and institutional context in which she serves. Thus, her teaching philosophy remains fluid, for her current philosophy is shaped not only by her undergraduate and graduate training, but by her experiences with students at North Carolina Central University.
This dual process – critiquing her formal education (theory) and her first-hand experiences (practice) — results in what Paulo Freire would call a true praxis. For Dr. Jackson, a true praxis at North Carolina Central University means creating a culturally relevant pedagogy, or a setting where students feel comfortable excelling without feeling that their racial or home identity is being threatened. According to educator Gloria Ladson-Billings, a culturally relevant pedagogy inspires students because texts and examples from the students’ backgrounds are not used just as ways of connecting to the dominant culture, but are integrated into the curriculum on a consistent basis. Moreover, with this pedagogy, students are exposed to ideas from multiple cultures in a way where diversity truly is respected.
Because Dr. Jackson firmly believes in educating the whole person, she consistently collaborates with multiple academic units on her campus in an effort to give students the best experiences possible. Retired Interim Provost Dr. Bernice Duffy Johnson calls Dr. Jackson, “a caring and effective teacher who believes in student success and faculty excellence.” Ms. Kesha Lee, Director of Student Disabilities Services, praises Dr. Jackson for her support of students with disabilities and notes, “Dr. Jackson connects with each student and creates an atmosphere that is conducive for all learners regardless of their background, gender, interest or abilities.”
Many of her students have gone on to become educators, as well. Mr. Tremain Holloway, now a high school math teacher, recalls how Dr. Jackson invited him to present with her at the university’s 2007 African-American Males in Leadership Conference while he was just a freshman in her first-year writing course.
Dr. Jackson maintains an active research agenda and is involved in several professional organizations. She has served on the executive board of the International Writing Center Association and currently serves as the Scholarship Chair of the Southeastern Writing Center Association.
Dr. Jackson graduated with summa cum laude distinction from Hampton University with a degree in English Secondary Education. She went on to receive her MA and PhD in English Composition from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She also received a pre-doctoral fellowship at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York where she taught courses in multicultural literacy.
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North Carolina State University
Dr. David G. Haase
Dr. David G. Haase is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University. A member of the faculty since 1975, Dr. Haase has been a leader in outreach to K-12 students and teachers in addition to his active involvement in teaching and research.
Dr. Haase’s greatest desire is for his students to learn and be motivated to succeed. He asserts that four principles inform his teaching philosophy and practice:
- students learn by explaining science to others;
- regular student feedback is essential;
- nothing is too wonderful to be true if it can be demonstrated by an experiment;
- the teacher must be excited about the subject matter.
His students’ classroom experiences are real world and down to earth. “You do not really understand a Physics principle or phenomena unless you can explain it to your grandmother or your spouse at the dinner table,” says Dr. Haase.
Putting his philosophy into practice, Dr. Haase reached out to K-12 Physics teachers and students early in his career when he began presenting demonstrations at high schools to recruit undergraduate majors. This led to science workshops and college courses for science teachers. In 1991, he was appointed the founding director of The Science House, a statewide K-12 learning outreach program at North Carolina State. This program, which serves 3,000 teachers and 20,000 students in North Carolina, provides “hands-on” learning in mathematics and science for grades K-12. Dr. Haase has led, taught and collaborated in numerous science education programs, student camps, and science teacher training courses across the state. He has also co-authored a high school Physics text and served on national committees concerned with the teaching of Physics in K-12 and in universities. Most recently, he served on a national task force to study and to publicize the shortage of qualified high school Physics teachers.
On campus, Dr. Haase has taught most of the undergraduate courses offered by the Department of Physics, created or co-created four new courses and taught lecture, laboratory, online and video courses. His students demonstrate a high level of respect for his teaching methods, his engagement and his selfless interest in their academic lives. James Rowland IV describes Dr. Haase’s Physics 413 classroom as having a “high level of engagement…which sets him apart as an excellent teacher.” Mr. Rowland recalls “the Physics involved in making the perfect hard-boiled egg thanks to an example Dr. Haase worked out in class, and I will never forget the significance of a critical point, having seen water transform continuously from liquid to gas with my own eyes.”
In addition to his passion for teaching, Dr. Haase maintains a rigorous research program in experimental low temperature Physics and in nuclear Physics experiments at North Carolina State, at the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Haase earned a BA in Mathematics and Physics from Rice University (1970) and an MA (1972) and PhD (1975) in Physics from Duke University.
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Dr. Leah Greden Mathews
Dr. Leah Greden Mathews, Professor of Economics, is the 2015 Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching honoree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Dr. Mathews is an active scholar, a gifted teacher, and a valued mentor to the many, many students who have been fortunate enough to take her classes and to work with her on her numerous and significant community projects. During her seventeen years at the University of North Carolina at Asheville she has taught a wide range of courses in Economics as well as courses in our Integrative Liberal Studies Program. In addition, she was named a GlaxoSmithKline Faculty Fellow (2008), the Sarah and Joseph Breman Professor of Social Relations (2011-2013), and the Interdisciplinary Distinguished Professor of the Mountain South (2013 to the present). Her community-based projects, many of which involved the participation of her students in a variety of ways to interact with and impact the wider Western North Carolina population, show her to be a model of the socially-engaged scholar.
Dr. Mathews has inspired students in all of her classes not to only learn the fundamentals of the discipline of Economics, but to understand and explore the connections between the scholarly discipline and the world outside the academy. In her own words, she seeks to develop “economic literacy” in her students, to give them skills in Economics which they will use and apply throughout their lives. She does this, in part, by employing what she describes as a “scaffolded pedagogy,” enabling her students to build new skills on ones learned earlier in a given course and across a sequence of courses. In addition, she has supervised numerous Undergraduate Research Projects. Her department chair writes, “One notable aspect of her teaching is how much of it takes place outside the classroom.” A colleague who taught with her in the Food for Thought Cluster had this to say in a joint letter praising her contributions: “Dr. Mathews has taken on research assistants from across the university, including Mathematics, Health and Wellness, Environmental Studies, Economics and Sociology.”
Students praise her ability to explain complex concepts in Economics for them, but perhaps more importantly, for her interest and confidence in their own developing abilities. One writes, “Being a nontraditional student . . . I can’t thank Dr. Mathews enough for reaching out to me and helping me navigate my way.” In a joint letter, four former Undergraduate Research students add, “Instead of telling us exactly what to do, she challenged us to think critically about our research design, analysis, and how we wanted to present our findings.” Clearly Dr. Mathews has impacted the lives of her students in ways that will continue to shape their intellectual and emotional growth for years to come.
Dr. Mathews earned a PhD in Agriculture and Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (1998) and a BA, magna cum laude, in Economics, French, and International Affairs, Marquette University (1991).
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Dr. Terry Sullivan
In his twenty-six years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a member of the faculty in the Department of Political Science, Associate Professor Terry Sullivan states that his teaching is guided by his passion to train students to develop their own sophisticated understanding of presidential leadership, influence, the complexity of political strategy, and the nature of political power. Professor Sullivan excels in accomplishing these goals in undergraduate classes where students work in teams, conducting research-based projects involving large databases describing the activities of the presidents of the United States. Students develop hypotheses based on theory and test these theories using the databases that he shares with them. His classes are filled with discussions between the students and Professor Sullivan, again emphasizing the importance of clearly articulating one’s ideas and hypotheses. Professor Sullivan also places a strong emphasis on presenting one’s thoughts clearly in writing and devotes many hours to helping students develop their writing skills. Both he and his students agree that his classes are extremely demanding, and he provides the support and mentoring to help students excel and surpass his high expectations.
Students attest to the learning environment that Professor Sullivan creates, which challenges them to be their very best. One student wrote, “Professor Sullivan creates a dynamic, intellectual environment, which allows his students to think critically about politics.” Another student noted, “Class is designed as a primary research opportunity; you are encouraged to reach your own conclusions.” Another student commented, “He sets high expectations for us; he asks a lot, but he gives back; his door is always open.” His passion is apparent, as one student reflected, “I’ve never seen a professor with more energy in the classroom.” Reflecting on the first day of class, one student concluded, “Through the narrative twists and turns, I had never felt more engaged in a lecture — a reason why I can still recall the first lecture.” His encouragement also leads students to commit their energy to developing their writing skills: “His writing techniques and guidebook are probably the only reason I have the grades that I have as a senior.”
Observations from faculty colleagues mirror the goals that Professor Sullivan establishes and which students value, noting that “he devotes considerable attention to writing and gives students hands-on opportunities to engage in research design.” Another concluded, “Students love him; he is a great story teller, a provocateur, and outspoken. Students find him to be a breath of fresh air.”
For his passion, commitment to students, consistently high standards coupled with efforts to help students achieve those standards, insistence on high quality expression both verbally and in writing, and bringing research to life for undergraduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Terry Sullivan is awarded the 2015 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Professor Sullivan earned his BA and PhD in Government from the University of Texas and completed his postdoctoral studies at Carnegie-Mellon University Graduate School of Industrial Administration.
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Dr. Tracy Rock
“I believe at the center of a powerful teaching practice,” says Professor Tracy C. Rock, “you will find unwavering commitment.” Since joining the Department of Reading and Elementary Education in 2000, Dr. Rock has demonstrated that “unwavering commitment” to her students, her profession, and her strong belief in critical reflection.
Professor Rock believes that getting to know her students is key to their success. What are students interested in learning? How are their experiences related to the course material? What challenges do they face? Dr. Rock gathers this information at the beginning of every course, and uses student answers to guide her through the semester. Additionally, by implementing a peer review system in her course, she demonstrates that students should take responsibility for their learning and the learning of their peers.
In her role as a teacher, Dr. Rock is a mentor both to her students and colleagues. Drew Polly, a colleague in Dr. Rock’s department, states that she “epitomizes rigorous, relevant, and engaging instruction. Her social studies methods course provides our students with sound content, effective pedagogies, and ideas on integrating a subject that is often ignored in our area school districts.”
In addition to being a committed teacher, Professor Rock has also proven to be a dedicated leader and an experiential learning advocate. At the departmental level, she led efforts in the elementary education program to revise the structure of the early clinical experiences, such that teacher candidates are now placed in partner schools for a two-week intensive experience in their second semester of the four-semester preparation program. As a result of these efforts, early clinical experiences are now more intentional, structured, and integrated. Dr. Rock championed service-learning, taking a leading role in establishing numerous initiatives. For example, she co-developed the Citizenship and Education course and the Service-Learning Teaching Methods course. The Literacy for Democracy grant she helped develop focused on creating curricula that encourage teacher education candidates to improve elementary learners’ literacy. Teacher education candidates involved in this project reported that implementing service learning pedagogy directly with young learners made their experience meaningful, active, and relevant.
Professor Rock has earned other positions that recognize her excellent work in education. As president of the North Carolina Professors of Social Studies Education, Dr. Rock initiated a project involving six institutions from the University of North Carolina system to address the marginalization of elementary social studies in the curriculum. At the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, because of her outstanding teaching record, Dr. Rock was a named a University Faculty Fellow at the Center for Teaching and Learning for 2013 through 2015; she was also was awarded the 2007 College of Education Teaching Fellows Undergraduate Teaching Award.
Professor Rock earned her MA in Liberal Studies and her PhD in Curriculum and Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She earned a BA in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and has been a faculty member since 2000.
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Dr. Joseph M. Starobin
During his 17 years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Professor Starobin has made outstanding contributions in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service. Particularly noteworthy is his ability to make mathematical concepts real, useful, and applicable and to prepare students for further studies in the interdisciplinary field of Nanoscience by strengthening their fluency in math. One of Professor Starobin’s colleagues explains that the exciting opportunities in the field of Nanoscience are also its challenges. Nanoscience resides at the intersection of many sciences, yet few students come prepared with strong backgrounds in both mathematics and physics. Professor Starobin, originally slated to teach Nanophysics, saw students struggling and volunteered to tailor and teach the Nanomath course – with astonishing results. Students are ever more prepared to engage with the innovative field of Nanoscience. Colleagues and students alike praise the challenging curricular innovations that Professor Starobin patiently implemented in order to meet the students’ needs. Professor Starobin is also a leader in the K-12 outreach program that JSNN maintains. He has trained, advised, and assisted many middle school students for various science projects. His most outstanding accomplishment in this respect to date was the victory of his team from Mendenhall Middle School whose project was one of only 16 to be executed on board the space shuttle Endeavor in April, 2011 as part of the NASA Student Spaceflight Experiment Program.
Professor Starobin’s accomplishments as a teacher and mentor have been recognized on and off campus. He received the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) Teaching Excellence Award twice (2012 and 2014). Numerous letters written by colleagues in support of his nomination clearly indicate that Professor Starobin is a leader in his field both nationally and internationally. “As a mentor and advisor, Dr. Starobin encourages discovery and original thought. His highly innovative educational method is extremely effective. It involves an inclusive cultural approach that incorporates peer mentoring.” (Dr. Daniel J.C. Herr, Professor and Nanoscience Department Chair, JSNN, UNCG.)
In evaluations, students consistently praise Professor Starobin for his passion for teaching: “There are few educators who truly care and Dr. Starobin is one of them. He cares and is born to teach. Dr. Starobin was excellent and always well prepared.” Graduate students writing in support of Professor Starobin’s nomination attribute their own academic and professional success to his willingness to mentor them beyond the classroom and to include them in his research. They emphasize the care with which Professor Starobin mentors their work and appreciate the opportunities to publish with him. “Dr. Starobin serves as a role model for teachers and researchers in an interdisciplinary area such as Nanosciences.” (Todor Antonijevic, graduate student, JSNN, UNCG.)
Professor Starobin received his master’s degree in Mathematical Physics from the Moscow Physico-Technical Institute in Moscow, Russia in 1975 and his doctoral degree in Mechanics of Fluids from the same institution in 1982. He joined the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1997 and has served as an Associate Professor in the Department of Nanoscience in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering since 2010.
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Dr. Sivanadane Mandjiny
The Faculty Awards Committee at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke is honored to recommend Dr. Sivanadane Mandjiny as the 2015 finalist for the Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence. Over the course of his nineteen-year career in the Chemistry and Physics Department, Dr. Mandjiny, who is a Full Professor, has established a stellar reputation in the realms of teaching, and service to our students.
Dr. Mandjiny’s teaching philosophy derives from a belief that “education should be accessible to all and motivation will bring out achievement from each and every student.” His courses employ many hands-on examples to illustrate concepts, especially in introductory chemistry courses. In his words, he brings the subject “alive” for students by emphasizing the application of chemistry beyond the lab and classroom to nonacademic activities. He believes in “instilling curiosity by relating material to concrete goals” and is thereby able to reach the most reluctant learner and replace apprehension with competence.
Dr. Mandjiny has established himself as one of the finest educators on the University of North Carolina at Pembroke campus. His unique talent for teaching is complimented by a deep commitment to engaging students in research. In one recommendation letter, a colleague mentioned that Dr. Mandjiny’s “students are keenly aware of his dedication and skill, and this awareness provides an additional motivation for their learning that perfectly complements the talents of their professor.” Another colleague writes that he “is a dynamic and powerful communicator who possesses the gift of being able to make complex subject like chemistry understandable and pertinent to real life.”
Similarly, a student notes that Dr. Mandjiny’s “enthusiasm, passion, and dedication for teaching and mentoring students is the reason I became a chemistry major. He was there for students 24-7. There was never a bad time to ask Dr. Mandjiny a question…” Another student mentions that “From helping student researchers design research experiments on his personal time to always keeping his door open to students, it is clear that Dr. Mandjiny is truly a professor that cares. Under Dr. Mandjiny’s guidance, I was granted the opportunity to conduct research in microgravity with NASA, graduate with honors, and apply to many competitive PA programs across the nation.”
These statements are just a small sampling of the endorsement Dr. Mandjiny receives from his colleagues and students. In reading his letters of support, it was difficult to imagine that they addressed only one person. In short, Dr. Mandjiny embodies every trait that defines an exceptional teacher and the Faculty Awards Committee believes that there are none more deserving of this award than Dr. Mandjiny.
Dr. Mandjiny received his B.Tech. from the University of Madras, M.Tech. from Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, M.Engineering from University of Toronto, Canada, and a PhD in Biological Engineering from Université de Technologie de Compiègne, France. Prior to joining our faculty, Dr. Mandjiny worked in industry as a project executive and in academia as a post-doc. He was a recipient of the 2006 UNCP Outstanding Teaching Award.
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Dr. Cara N. Cilano
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s 2015 nominee for the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching is Cara N. Cilano, Professor of English. Dr. Cilano joined the faculty in 2001 and teaches a wide variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.
The recipient of a UNCW Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award, a Distinguished Teaching Professorship Award, and the Board of Trustees Teaching Excellence Award, Dr. Cilano is a gifted teacher, scholar, and mentor whose teaching interests and experiences have long had a global focus. A scholar of post-colonial and South Asian literature, she is the author of three books, seven book chapters, and six articles, an editor of a collection of essays, and has presented more than fifteen conference papers. A two-time Fulbright recipient, she was a Fulbright Lecturer at Yanka Kupala University, Grodno, Belarus in spring 2007 and a Fulbright Visiting Professor of Cultural Studies at Karl Franzens University, Graz, Austria in spring 2014. She also served as Faculty Resident Director at UNCW’s Swansea Program in Wales in 2012.
Dr. Cilano contributed substantively to the multi-year revision of UNCW’s general education requirements, culminating in the adoption and implementation of University Studies, a signature curriculum that benefits all of our students, and is currently the Project Director and co-principal investigator on a million dollar ment of State University Partnerships Grant.
Her teaching philosophy demonstrates her open approach to the questions and issues that arise in the classroom and beyond. In her first semester as a college instructor, Cilano confesses that she “was terrified that a student would ask me a question I couldn’t answer.” Twenty years later, Cilano writes, she now realizes “that there’s no need to be terrified over the prospect of unanswerable questions. They’re not insurmountable obstacles but opportunities to learn. In other words, when students pose hard questions, when our texts present complicated problems, the students’ learning—and my own—come about through our combined efforts to address these questions and problems. To address is to try, to endeavor, and in this trying lies the adventure, the experiment, the what if? and the how come?” Cilano characterizes her pedagogical disposition as one that “emphasizes addressing questions and problems rather than answering them promotes inquiry over mastery, encourages imagination and deliberation rather than definitive claims that shut down further consideration.”
Her success is undeniable. A student writes “[She] has been the most influential professor of my entire academic career. I owe my curiosity to her. Without her I would not be where I am intellectually, which is in a place where I am constantly seeking out more knowledge and more understanding because, while [she] has taught me a lot, she has also taught me to be aware of just how much I don’t know.”
Professor Cilano earned a BA and MA in English at St. Bonaventure University and a PhD in English at Duquesne University.
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UNC School of the Arts
Dr. Hans Gabriel
Dr. Hans Gabriel, Associate Professor in the Division of Liberal Arts, has taught German at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts since 1999. In his philosophy of teaching statement, Dr. Gabriel speaks of the student-centered experiential approach he employs in the classroom, noting that “I try to make students ‘anxious’ in both senses of the word: just uncomfortable enough to heighten their concentration and promote solid preparation, but eager to contribute and take others along with them.”
Dr. Gabriel employs an approach of full immersion, noting in his philosophy of teaching statement that he tells his students “German is not a class, German is life.” This experiential immersion approach was cited by a number of his current and former students. One individual commented that Dr. Gabriel required the class to be “in it” from day one, learning how to learn and think in another language. A key aspect to Dr. Gabriel’s approach is the extensive use of in-class discussions in German. A student commented on the importance of these discussions, stating that “Dr. Gabriel led discussions that were enlightening and profound. I am not using hyperbole and can honestly say that the life lessons I learned from Dr. Gabriel have shaped me as a person.”
These discussions were not limited to the classroom; nearly every student referenced the fact that Dr. Gabriel provided opportunities to speak German conversationally outside of the classroom. This is clearly described by a former student, who recalled that “Every week Dr. Gabriel organizes Stammtisch, a group of students and teachers who gather to eat food and speak solely in German for about an hour and a half. Herr Gabriel understands that if you want to learn a language, you must get out of the classroom and speak it.”
A common thread throughout Dr. Gabriel’s nominations was the genuine care he exhibits for his students and their learning. This was described well in his nomination: “Dr. Gabriel is one of those teachers you come across only a few times in your lifetime. He is not only fluent in German, and an excellent teacher of German itself, but I feel he taught his students much more than that: how to learn, and that learning is really most effective when skills are put to use within a community.”
Dr. Gabriel earned his Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Arts in German Language and Literature from the University of Virginia. He previously earned a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in German and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Winston-Salem State University
Dr. Michael McKenzie
Dr. Michael McKenzie, associate professor in the Department of Exercise Physiology, also serves as chair of the department, and is the Director of Undergraduate Research for WSSU. He teaches courses in the areas of sports supplements, training and performance, and the science of training. In regards to his teaching philosophy, Dr. McKenzie writes: “most everything I teach my students will soon be outdated. We will have new technology, new information, and new techniques. However, if I can teach my students to think, reason, and problem solve using my material, I feel I have succeeded, because I know that even as the information changes, they will be able to reason through it.”
Dr. McKenzie has an extensive history of collaborating with undergraduates on research projects. He has co-authored presentations at national scientific meetings with undergraduates each of the last 6 years. Additionally, for the last 3 years, Dr. McKenzie has served as Chair of the WSSU Scholarship Day Committee. This committee plans the Scholarship Day event, which last year saw over 120 students present their research posters to the university as a whole. This past spring semester, Dr. McKenzie also served WSSU as acting director of the WSSU Honors Program.
Dr. McKenzie has over 20 publications in journals such as Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, and the Journal of Applied Physiology. He has offered more than 35 presentations and symposiums at professional meetings. From 2011-13, Dr. McKenzie served on the Executive Board of the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (SEACSM). He currently serves on the national board of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for the ACSM Health and Science Policy Committee, as well as the ACSM ActivEarth Committee. This past summer, Dr. McKenzie was awarded fellow status by ACSM (FACSM).
Dr. McKenzie is very active on campus in faculty governance. In addition to serving as department chair, he serves on academic council, the School of Health Sciences Leadership Team, and he previously served as Vice-Chair of the Faculty Senate.
He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Athletic Training from Appalachian State University, his Master of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Florida, and his PhD in Exercise Physiology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Prior to arriving at WSSU, Dr. McKenzie completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Geriatrics. He and his wife, Laura, are the proud parents of Kate (5), and John (3).
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NC School of Science and Mathematics
Dr. Noreen Naiman
Mentor, innovator, master teacher—Noreen Naiman, as an Instructor of both Biology and Chemistry at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, has stimulated the exceptional development of her students and motivated the instructional excellence of her faculty colleagues for over twenty years. Her commitment that students “experience what science is” has led to a teaching methodology focused on hands-on activities, emphasizing real-world applications, and requiring her students to both think and communicate science.
In the multiple courses Dr. Naiman has developed at NCSSM—such as Classical and Molecular Genetics, Chemistry by Inquiry, Research Experience in Biology—she has modeled her philosophy that science is cross-disciplinary; should be done, not described; and must incorporate current advances in the field. She utilizes extensive visualizations and computer simulations allowing her students to see and manipulate the 3-D structures of molecules and cells. Leading a recent student to characterize her teaching style as “extremely fluent . . . There are the teachers who you recognize as scholars but not necessarily good teachers—Dr. Naiman is both a genius and a wonderful teacher.”
National Board Certified since 2002, Dr. Naiman has led a variety of teacher workshops in both introductory and marine biotechnology as well as genetics for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. She co-developed a Howard Hughes sponsored workshop integrating mathematics and biological sciences at Duke University. She regularly serves as a grant reviewer for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and on Duke University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and was recently appointed to North Carolina Governor McCrory’s Teacher Advisory Committee. At NCSSM, Dr. Naiman has been a leader in the development of our two most successful summer outreach programs for under-prepared students—Labs for Learning and Step Up to STEM.
Known for her ready availability and support for students, Dr. Naiman has repeatedly coached NCSSM’s highly competitive Science Olympiad Team, served as a Hall Parent (taking an active role in hall activities and baking cookies for every birthday) for 15 years, and currently sponsors the iGEM Seminar (mentoring several top research students in preparation for the annual competition). She has twice served her colleagues as President of the Faculty Council and Vice President of the Faculty Senate, and took an active role on the NCSSM Calendar/Schedule Working Group and a Strategic Planning Action Team.
In all of her various capacities at NCSSM—teacher, mentor, colleague, and role model to both students and faculty—Dr. Noreen Naiman has proven herself a superlative candidate for the UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award.
Dr. Naiman earned her BS in Chemistry at James Madison University and her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the Medical College of Virginia / Virginia Commonwealth University. She served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and as a Research Associate in the Department of Pathology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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