The six faculty members receiving this years West Virginia University Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award share a commitment to creative learning techniques and general compassion for their students. They are an important part of the WVU community and are respected by their students and colleagues for their drive to make learning exciting.
The 2009 WVU Foundation Outstanding Teachers are:
Catherine C. Gouge, assistant professor of English, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Deborah D. Janson, associate professor of German, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Ruth E. Kershner, associate professor of community medicine, School of Medicine
James J. Nolan, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Arif R. Sarwari, associate professor of infectious diseases, School of Medicine
John H. Temple, interim associate dean and assistant professor of journalism, Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism
The honorees will receive a $5,000 award from the WVU Foundation and be recognized during the Commencement Honors Convocation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 15, at the WVU Creative Arts Center. A webcast will be available at http://webcast.wvu.edu/ .
Catherine C. Gouge
Assistant Professor of English Catherine C. Gouge doesnt believe in giving her students busy work.
I try to keep in mind the advice I received from a professor whom I respected,she said.Never ask your students to do anything you do not genuinely want to read or respond to.
Gouge motivates her students to become better professional writers and editors by incorporating real-world opportunities into her classes such as English 305: Technical Writing. The course is made up of an extensive service-learning component designed to teach students how to write grant proposals and manage projects to benefit local nonprofit agencies.
Groups of students in English 305 consult with nonprofit representatives to discuss their needs. Students then research possible funding/grant sources and draft a grant application for their assigned nonprofit.
Sabrina M. Foley-DeVall, a former student of English 302: Editing, said Gouge gives meaningful work in her courses.
Each assignment is based on experiences editors may face in their careers,she said.The assignments were useful to me because they helped me work through difficult problems, and I know they served as excellent preparation for my future.
Gouge, who received her doctorate and masters degree from WVU , was first hired as a visiting assistant professor in 2002 and developed the Eberly Colleges Distance Writing Program, which is made up of six online courses designed for adult learners with time or distance constraints. Students who complete the program are able to earn a professional writing and editing minor, concentration or certificate online from anywhere in the world.
Irina Rodimtseva decided to return to graduate school after 25 years when she had a course with Gouge. Rodimtseva is now teaching online in the Distance Writing Program while she completes her doctorate in English.
Catherine was the person I turned to for adviceand got it,Rodimtseva said.She was happy to share the dos and donts of computer-based instruction and encouraged me not to give up but to master the challenging methods.
There is no better way to learn something than to teach it,Gouge said.I understand that ultimately, my responsibility in the classroom is not just to teach professional writing or editing, but to convey my passion for learning to my students and to create the conditions under which they might find their own passion.
Deborah D. Janson
Allowing one rewrite per research paper, Associate Professor of German Deborah Janson is the kind of teacher who will give her students a second chance.
Janson provides her students with extensive feedback on their writing, which many of them have come to value.
Thanks to her advice in writing and research, I felt I truly became a master of my thesis topic,said German graduate student Bettina Kersten.
Dr. Janson demanded more out of her students, but in return, we could expect to learn much more than a language,said Adelheid Medan, a former undergraduate student.
Janson chose to major in German at Michigan State University after living abroad in Erding, Germany, where her mother taught English and she attended high school.
Upon being accepted into the German graduate program at the University of California, Los Angeles, she had her first experiences teaching the language and later received a Fulbright-Hayes dissertation fellowship to conduct research for one semester in East Berlin.
In 1992, she accepted a teaching position in WVU s Department of Foreign Languages.
Though Janson was disappointed when the German masters degree program was suspended, she took the disappointment and new challenges in stride. She developed 24 new courses for the University and organized a study abroad program in Luneburg, Germany.
Though I was unsuccessful in my efforts to retain the German masters program, our undergraduate program is growing stronger with the number of majors and the academic caliber of the students on the rise,Janson said.I am proud of the success that graduates from our program are experiencing.
Another important element of Jansons teaching is collaboration with other professors. In 2002, she and colleagues in German and German history received a University grant to incorporate more German history into language courses and more German language into history courses. As a result of this linked German across-the-curriculum project, Janson said students find it easier to integrate the knowledge they gain from studying both fields.
Ultimately, I hope to instill in my students a love for German and encourage them to become lifelong learners who make positive contributions to the global community,she said.
Ruth E. Kershner
Ruth Kershner, an associate professor in the Department of Community Medicine, is known for being an accessible counselor to her students.
She is a friend of students, who always has their best interests at heart,student Lisa Costello said.Ruths job is never done at 5; she is often found at the Health Sciences Center in the evenings or on weekends working on projects in her office or hosting activities for student organizations.
Usually teaching six to nine classes at WVU each semester, Kershner has developed several unique community medicine and womens studies courses, including Mens Health, Gender and Violence, Womens Health and Fitness, and Disease Across the Lifespan.
Since 1995, Kershner has been involved in many facets of education at WVU , and she takes preparation to a higher level with her student educational packets that include note-taking sheets, reflective experiences, study guides and more.
She utilizes a variety of teaching methods, bringing knowledge, humor, compassion, experience and substance to the classroom,said Dr. Alan M. Ducatman, chair of Community Medicine.She excels in impact. Her students are inspired.
Kershner also served as an international health mentor for students in countries such as Honduras, Tanzania and Guatamala from 2006-08.
I am so fortunate to be a teacher, mentor and adviser,Kershner said.Teaching is my spiritual path. Each and every student brings something of value to the classroom. Through dialogue, activities, humor and heartfelt exchange, they share their gifts with me, and I am a better person because of them.
In 2008, she received the WVU School of Medicine Distinguished Teacher Award and the Deans Award for Community Service. She was also named the 2008 Professor of the Year by the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia.
Kershner helped the Department of Community Medicine reinstitute its online graduate program in school health, which had been on hiatus for five years. It is currently the only online graduate program in school health in West Virginia.
Since 1998, Kershner has served as the alcohol educator for the School of Medicine. During the past four years, she has been involved in more than 75 alcohol education activities, including DUI simulators, orientations and discussions, which served more than 5,000 participants from the University, community and local high schools.
James J. Nolan
Unlike most faculty, James Nolan, an associate professor in sociology and anthropology, served as a police officer for over 10 years before becoming a teacher.
At 22, he entered the police academy in Wilmington, Del., and became a patrol officer and a detective in the drug and organized crime division, working undercover to infiltrate criminal networks. He occasionally taught classes at the police academy, but never thought of teaching as a career.
Eventually, Nolan pursued his masters in education and doctorate in psychoeducational processes at Temple University in Philadelphia. During this time, the potential for social change through teaching and education had a profound effect on him.
I saw that teaching and learning are very much a part of the same processone that has the ability to change the consciousness of people so that they can change their own lives for the better,Nolan said.
At WVU , he teaches nine classes, including courses on hate crimes, criminology and deviant behavior, and he helped pioneer the new, popular criminology and investigation major.
One of Nolans popular classes at WVU is Inside Out: Exploring Issues of Crime and Justice from Behind West Virginia Prison Walls. Originally developed at Temple University, the class is an innovative community-based, service-learning course aimed at studying criminal justice through weekly meetings between WVU students and inmatesor inside studentsas Nolan refers to them.
I can say now that my views have swayed significantly,said former Inside Out student Michael Anthony Lupi Jr.These people were abandoned by several people in their lives and ended up making a mistake. Right now in their lives, they need people to talk to for inspiration and guidance, and I am glad I could be a part of that.
During the last three weeks of the course, students work together and develop a plan to improve the practice of criminal justice in the state and present it to prison and state officials.
Based on the quality of the Inside Out class projects, students and a prison warden encouraged Nolan to create a second course called Justice Roundtable, which meets twice a month to continue working on Inside Out projects.
A current student of Nolans, Heather Marie Stanley said,At the end of this class, we hadnt just met inmates, but we had met our inside student friends. We had gained trust in one another in that room to talk about issues that were not allowed or comfortable anywhere else. We learned that there are so many things that can be changed in the prison system.
Nolan and students in Justice Roundtable have been working on a project to help individuals who are released from prison to reintegrate into everyday life by assisting them with housing, employment and support networks.
Nolan also gets students involved in research on community policing. They work with him in neighborhoods, interviewing residents and police officers about their relationships with each other. Building trusting relationships within communities and between the police and the community is essential to crime control, he said.
Dr. Arif R. Sarwari
Using creative learning strategies and helping students after hours are only a couple of things that make Dr. Arif Sarwari a memorable professor among his students and colleagues at the WVU School of Medicine.
An associate professor of medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases, Sarwari has been nominated by faculty and staff in the Department of Medicine for numerous awards and won at least one departmental award every year since 2002.
He is committed to teaching and is learner centered in his instruction,said Dr. Joshua M. Dower, a faculty member in the departments of Medicine and Pediatrics.He is in my opinion, the king of the one-sentence summary and has mastered the ability to summarize a complex clinical scenario and state it in a simple, clear, concise and accurate manner.
Sarwari created aJeopardy-type competition for participants in the tropical medicine course and put together a CD-ROM-based curriculum for students and house staff going through infectious disease clinic rotations.
House staff and students find this experience very useful, and the rotation is rated highly in great part because of this curriculum,said Dr. Rashida A. Khakoo, an infectious diseases professor at the School of Medicine.
Since the goal of all educators is to foster lifelong learning in their students, one needs to identify and kindle the flame of curiosity,Sarwari said.Clearly, excellence in teaching is not about filling the pail; rather, it is about lighting the flame.
Former student Jacob Barkley recalled how Sarwari went out of his way to help him and another student learn the basic questions for physical exam skills and recording patient history; Sarwari said he would meet them after class to help.
We were both expecting to have a few minutes with Dr. Sarwaribefore he had to go off and see his full slate of patients,Barkley said,Instead, Dr. Sarwari had reserved a clinic room for us where he spent the next five to six hours going over the complete physical exam skill set.
Sarwari attended medical school at Aga Khan Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan, and came to WVU for internal medicine residency training in the early90s. He then continued his infectious disease training at the University of Maryland.
In 2008, he received a prestigious national award given to one person per year by the American College of Physiciansthe Herbert S. Waxman Award for Outstanding Medical Student Educator.
Sarwari is the principal investigator of the
Center for Excellence for Outpatient HIV Early Intervention
Services grant, through which he has created an interdisciplinary group that provides outstanding care for HIV -infected patients.
John H. Temple
Interim Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Journalism John Temple spent the past few years thinking about how the field of journalism is changing and wound up going through some changes himself.
Professor Temple has evolved from a teacher who presents information to students to a writing coach and colleague who works with students to help them make their own discoveries as writers and media producers,said Maryanne Reed, dean of the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism.
Temple helped draft a new journalism major that was recently approved by the WVU Faculty Senate. It will be more of an integrated news curriculum that allows students to work in teams producing content for print, online and broadcast media outlets.
Newspaper journalists are now expected to report, write and produce content for the Web using multiple storytelling forms, including text, photography, video and audio,Temple said.Journalists can no longer think of themselves as being purely television reporters or print reporters.
To put into practice what he was preaching, Temple decided to brush up on his own multimedia journalism skills. He sat in on a video editing course at the school, completed online, multimedia Webinars, co-taught a multimedia reporting course for two semesters and received a weeklong multimedia training fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
His own evolution as a journalist, writer and teacher serves as inspiration to his colleagues and students,Reed said.
In fall 2007, Temple and two other students began to brainstorm ideas for a multimedia project called West Virginia Uncovered, where students create multimedia news-features for weekly newspapers in the state and also help the staff improve their Web sites. Four small weekly newspapers agreed to participate in West Virginia Uncovered, and Temple obtained an $85,000 grant for the project from the McCormick Foundationthe largest external grant the journalism school has ever received. In March, the project received another $85,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to expand the endeavor.
Journalism graduate Elaine McMillion participated in the West Virginia Uncovered project, and the multimedia content she produced helped her secure an internship at The Washington Post.
This project has prepared us for the changing world of journalism by putting equipment in our hands and sending us into the field to capture a story through several mediums,McMillion said.
Temple received his bachelors degree in English writing/journalism and M.F.A. in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Pittsburgh.
His current book project,The Last Lawyer: A Death-Row Attorneys Toughest Case,tells the story of a team of lawyers and investigators in North Carolina who represent a death row inmate through the post-conviction appeals process. Previous book projects includeDeadhouse: Life in a Coroners OfficeandCancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss and Hope,which is made up of student-produced stories and photos.