The six faculty members receiving this years West Virginia University Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award share a commitment to being accessible to students and using technology and other creative approaches in the classroom. WVU honors Larry E. Banta, Robert M. Bastress Jr., Michael D. Lastinger, Eric J. Pyle, Frank D. Reilly, and David W. Schaal.
The honorees will receive their awards Friday, April 12, at a 7 p.m. convocation ceremony in the Mountainlair Ballrooms that is part of WVU ’s Weekend of Honors celebration. Each will receive a $2,500 honorarium.
Honors are nothing new for Larry E. Banta , associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE). During his 16 years at WVU , Dr. Banta has garnered nine major teaching awards, including six times being named a College of Engineering and Mineral Resources (CEMR) Outstanding Teacher and once CEMR s Teacher of the Year. As evidenced by many positive student evaluations, Banta has developed a reputation for being an enthusiastic instructor who effectively teaches subjects like mechatronics and thermodynamics by blending traditional teaching methods with new technology.
He has also taught 13 different coursesuncommon for a professor of engineeringthat ranged from freshman to graduate level, lecture to lab and class sizes of five to 120. Included in that number are three new classes developed by Banta, including the popular senior design course in robotics, MAE s first interdisciplinary capstone design course. He has also modernized several other MAE courses in recent years.
“His personality and teaching philosophy has made Professor Banta one of the most respected and popular teachers in the CEMR ,”said Donald Lyons, former MAE chairperson.”Besides dedication, Dr. Banta brings to the classroom an excitement and enthusiasm for his topics that students find infectious and stimulating.”
Banta has been principle investigator or co-principle investigator on more than $2 million in contract research grants. He also maintains an active consulting business.
He earned his B.A. at Kalamazoo College in 1973 and an M.S. in 1981 and Ph.D. in 1987 at Georgia Institute of Technology. He joined the WVU MAE Department in 1986 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1991. Prior to his move to WVU , Banta worked 10 years at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
Professor Robert M. Bastress, Jr. has helped shape the careers of WVU College of Law graduates for nearly a quarter of a century. Bastresscourse load ranges from classes in constitutional law, which combine the fundamental or basic principles of law with public policy and historical development, to skills courses such as Interviewing, Negotiating and Counseling, a subject area relatively new to law school curricula.
Bastress is known among law students and graduates for his accessibilitynot just during their time at the College of Law, but also after graduation in regard to career options or specific cases they are handling.
WVU College of Law Dean John Fisher describes him as”an innovator within legal education”and”one of the most successful scholars in our College.”Bastress not only developed teaching materials for his West Virginia constitution class but he also wrote the book (The West Virginia Constitution, Greenwood Publishing, 1995) that has become the accepted authority for the courts and practitioners.
Bastress has been active in civil liberties and civil rights issues, having served on state and national boards of the ACLU and participated in significant public interest litigation. For his public service work, he has received awards from the Mountain State Bar, the ACLU of West Virginia, the West Virginia State Bar and the WVU College of Law.
A 1971 graduate of Wesleyan University, Bastress earned his J.D. at Vanderbilt University in 1974 and an LL.M. in 1978 at Temple University, where he served as Abraham Freedman Fellow and Clinical Instructor in Law from 1976-78. Prior to entering the LL.M. program, Bastress served as staff attorney for the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund in Barboursville, Ky., and for two years as its directing attorney. He joined the WVU College of Law faculty in 1978 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1981 and professor in 1986.
Department of Foreign Languages Associate Professor Michael D. Lastinger has taken his teaching well beyond the traditional classroom lectures. In fact, his web-based French language and literature instructional resources, showcased on his web site Les Saucissons Chauds (Hot French Links), have been accessed, used and commended worldwide, as attested by e-mails from as far away as Vietnam, Colombia and numerous European nations.
Dr. Lastinger, along with his colleague and wife, Valrie Lastinger, has led four summer study abroad programs in Vende, France. The trips not only immerse students in French culture, but, through Lastingers daily web page updates, they also educate friends, family and students worldwide. Since the Vende program began, the Department of Foreign Languages has experienced a rejuvenated interest in French studies. Enrollment in almost all advanced undergraduate French classes has increased, more students are becoming French majors and minors, and several students have returned to France for longer periods of work or study.
Since coming to WVU in 1989, Lastinger has taught over 15 different courses in French language, literature, civilization and literary theory, revising and developing several of them with a focus on current technological and cultural actualities. His research focuses on nineteenth-century literature and culture, with particular emphasis on the works of Honorde Balzac, Arthur Rimbaud andmile Zola.
Lastinger was promoted from assistant to associate professor in 1995 and in 2001 was named an Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher. He earned his B.A. from Valdosta State in 1976, and an M.A. (1979) and Ph.D. (1987) from the University of Georgia.
Unlike some professors who are content with positive test scores as a measure of teaching effectiveness, Eric J. Pyle’s goal is more intangiblehoping to instill in students a greater understanding of themselves as the professional educators they aspire to become. In his science teaching methods classes, the associate professor of science education strives to motivate students to concentrate on their own learning and, ultimately, their studentslearning, rather than performance-oriented motivators like grades.
Since the summer of 2000, Dr. Pyle has led the Teams of Interdisciplinary Graduate fellows Engaged to Reinvigorate Students (TIGERS) program as project director and co-principal investigator. Funded by a National Science Foundation GK-12 Teaching Fellows grant, TIGERS places graduate students in the sciences, mathematics and engineering in contact with middle school mathematics and science teachers and their students. TIGERS currently works with 11 middle schools and 23 teachers in West Virginia.
He also serves as the principle investigator for a development grant for the West Virginia Center for Rural Mathematics&Science Integration and has recently been named Director of the Governors School for Mathematics and Science.
Pyle is president-elect of the West Virginia Science Teachers Association. He has published two books, one CD-ROM and multiple journal articles and meeting presentations in science education. In 1999, he and two colleagues were awarded NSTA s Gustav Ohaus Award for Innovations in Science Teaching for their science inclusion project.
Pyle joined the WVU faculty in 1995 as an assistant professor of science education and was promoted to associate professor in 2001. The College of Human Resources and Education named Pyle its Outstanding Teaching Award for 2000-2001. He earned a B.S. in earth science from the University of North CarolinaCharlotte (1983), an M.S. in geology from Emory (1986) and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of Georgia (1995).
With a record of 17 years of continuous research funding and documented teaching excellence, Frank D. Reilly has taught over 2,000 medical, dental, graduate and undergraduate students, many of whom have become clinician postdoctoral associates, students in Summer Research Fellowships and Minority High School Research Apprentices. In Reillys 24 years at WVU , the professor of anatomy and neurobiology has developed the reputation for being an innovative instructor dedicated to conveying complex information in the most effective ways possible.
Most recently, Dr. Reilly has used computer technology to create interactive lessons that, according to Richard Dey, chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy,”stimulate independent learning and aspire to create attitudes of life-long learning in the students.”
One of Reillys computer-based lessons, which are available on the internet and provided to students as a CD-ROMhandout,uses Authorware and Flash to actively show the nerve pathways of the peripheral nervous system, coupling the pathways to the reflex arcs they serve. Reilly was invited to speak about this particular project at the 2001 Slice-of-Life Conference in Munich, Germany, and has presented similar information at other national and international meetings and conferences.
In addition to his teaching, Reillys microcirculation research has yielded 37 peer-reviewed manuscripts and a total of 15 book chapters or monographs.
Reilly received a B.S. in zoology from The Ohio State University in 1971 and a Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Cincinnati in 1975. He came to WVU in 1978 as an associate professor after teaching for three years as an assistant professor of anatomy at the University of Cincinnati. He was promoted to professor in 1985. Reilly received the WVU School of Medicine Distinguished Teacher Award in 2001, among other numerous honors during his career at WVU .
Associate Professor David W. Schaal credits WVU s Department of Psychology with his development as a teacher.”I have outstanding teachers as role models. They are eager to provide guidance and assistance, and I receive frequent, thorough evaluation and criticismSimply put, its very hard to be a bad teacher in my departmentits just not allowed,”Dr. Schaal said.
His colleagues, however, say his teaching accomplishments are all his, calling him”a popular and energetic teacher, a talented and productive scientist and a generous, service-oriented colleague.”Schaal is known for relating complex material toreal lifesituations and for writing extensive study guides for every undergraduate text he uses. He has also been instrumental in developing the departments capstone experience for undergraduate psychology majors. He also has shown a commitment to research and includes both graduate students and undergraduates in his laboratory. During the last five years, students joined Schaal in co-authoring 17 professional presentations at regional, national and international conferences, and nine publications in some of experimental psychology peer-reviewed journals, such as Behavioural Pharmacology and the Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior.
Schaal came to WVU s Behavior Analysis Program in 1991 from the University of Minnesota where he was a post-doctoral fellow in neuropharmacology. In 1996, he was promoted to associate professor. He teaches a variety of WVU undergraduate and graduate courses, including physiological psychology and behavioral pharmacology. Golden Key National Honors Society awarded Schaal a Golden Apple Award in 2000, and in 2001 the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences named him one of its Outstanding Teachers.
He has served on the Board of Editors for three journals and on study sections at the National Institute of Mental Health and the Alzheimers Foundation. A 1983 graduate of St. Cloud State University, Schaal earned both his M.S. (1985) and Ph.D. (1988) in psychology at the University of Florida.