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UH Announces Recipients of 2003 Regents' Medal for Excellence in Teaching

Faculty from across UH system recognized for scholarship and creativity

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Aug 12, 2003

Fourteen University of Hawaiʻi professors from across the 10-campus system have been awarded the 2003 Regents‘ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. Presented by the UH Board of Regents, the teaching excellence medal pays tribute to faculty members for their extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values beneficial to students.

This year‘s recipients of the Regent‘s Medal for Excellence in Teaching are:

· Mary Alexander, an associate professor of English at Kauaʻi Community College. Her passion for her profession and the subject she teaches is highly evident to her students, and they laud her for assigning interesting reading material, holding valuable class discussions and grading assignments with thoughtful comments.

· Krystyna Aune, an associate professor in the UH Mānoa Department of Speech. Her goal as a university professor is to stimulate students‘ interest in the content area of the courses she teaches, and more broadly, in the field of communication. A number of her undergraduate students have decided to pursue master‘s degrees in the department and several are now Ph.D. students in prestigious programs across the country.

· Rick Caulfield, an assistant professor in the UH Mānoa Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. He structures class time and activities to encourage face-to-face interactions among students and himself. He serves as an academic advisor for Phi Upsilon Omicron, the National Honor Society in Family and Consumer Sciences, and is a past recipient of the Frances Davis Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and a Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching.

· Linus Chao, a professor of art at Hawaiʻi Community College. Recognized both locally and internationally, he leads a variety of classes, including those on Chinese culture, photography, silk screening, drawing and painting. He has also presented numerous workshops around the world. Chao has been recognized with many honors over the years, including being named a "Living Legend" in 1997 by the County of Hawaiʻi.

· Leticia Colmenares, an instructor of chemistry at Windward Community College. Her students have called her a "diamond among gems." Her skillful use of high tech teaching tools, such as audio-visual equipment, helps make the intimidating subject she teaches much easier to comprehend. She is known for encouraging her students to ask questions when they are stumped and offering additional study sessions. Her dedication is also seen outside of the classroom, where she spends extra time with those who need the help.

· John Conner, a professor of English literature at Leeward Community College. His 32 years of service to the college and community include his tenure as chairman of the arts and humanities division, coordinator of the Japanese studies program and a member of the committee to develop the college day-care center. Conner has dozens of letters thanking him for his knowledge, inspiration and caring, and is a much-loved teacher who has inspired a generation of students with his own passion for literature and learning.

· Kathy Ferguson, a professor in the UH Mānoa Women‘s Studies Program and the Department of Political Science. She believes that teaching is a process, not a product, because it is ongoing, unpredictable, and, under the best of circumstances can contribute to a lifetime of lasting reflection. Her classes are best described as lecture/discussion with a series of ongoing conversations. Ferguson began the Faculty Ambassadors Program in 1996 to take the excitement of university teaching and research into high school classrooms.

· Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller, an associate professor in the UH Mānoa Department of Political Science. He believes that successful teaching depends on three elements: the exploration of another way of life, knowledge about oneself, and the constitution of a community of knowledge. To invigorate this culture of learning, he minimizes lecturing and encourages students to fashion their own knowledge by teaching them to ground their discussions on their critical readings of course material. He has also been involved in writing a new undergraduate curriculum for political science and has designed a new university-wide program for the study of law, society and globalization.

· Kakkala "Gopal" Gopalakrishnanm, a professor of oceanography at Honolulu Community College. Students and peers praise his warm and caring personality, deep commitment to community service, unfailing devotion to teaching and fine sense of humor. He is greatly appreciated by the oceanography program and the Honolulu Community College family. He has shown consistent commitment and dedication to his students, both within and outside the classroom.

· David Hammes, a professor of economics at UH Hilo. He has been teaching at UH Hilo for the past 16 years and is also an active scholar and researcher. Hammes frequently expresses to colleagues his amazement that he can earn a living by talking to students about subjects that he loves. Hammes‘ students characterize him as always eager to help and describe him as "approachable and encouraging."

· Nelda Quensell, an associate professor of botany at Kapiʻolani Community College. Her classes transcend theory and lecture as they are conducted not only in the lab but out in the real world. Whether it‘s cleaning up a shoreline or working in a taro loʻi or planting limu in Ewa Beach, her students receive a valuable hands-on experience that incites lifelong learning. She is dedicated to bringing her students an understanding of the delicate balance that exists in Hawaiʻi‘s unique natural ecosystems. Through her instruction and by example, Quensell instills a sense of ecological responsibility and urgency in her students.

· Wayne Shiroma, an associate professor in the UH Mānoa Department of Electrical Engineering. He has spoken to over 600 students in classrooms, college and career fairs, and engineering open houses and expos to promote the UH engineering program as offering a high-quality engineering education for Hawaiʻi‘s high school students. He has been a pioneer in project-based learning, and since first joining UH, he has actively involved undergraduates in his research activities. Shiroma played a prominent role in the College of Engineering‘s CubeSat project, the largest multidisciplinary project ever undertaken by UH engineering students.

· Lee Stein, an instructor of human services at Maui Community College. She sincerely cares about her students and will work with them until she is assured that their needs are met, even when they are no longer in her classes. Stein is an active advisor to the college‘s human services club, Malama Lahui Kanaka, and to the national honor society, Phi Theta Kappa. Both within and outside the traditional educational setting, she inspires greatness and internal growth among her appreciative students.

· Terence Wesley-Smith, an associate professor in the UH Mānoa Center for Pacific Islands Studies. He tries to facilitate students‘ learning about the island places and issues that interest them with an approach that involves listening as much as talking. In recent years, he has had the opportunity to develop some of his ideas further as director of a SHAPS-based, system-wide research and instructional project called "Moving Cultures: Remaking Asia Pacific Studies." In addition to normal teaching duties, he handles advising for the 35 students currently enrolled in the MA program, and has served as an outside member on at least a dozen doctoral committees in the departments of Political Science, Geography, Anthropology, and the College of Education.

Award recipients will be recognized along with other UH award winners at a system-wide ceremony in October.

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