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UW’s Dellenback Receives Honor for Excellence in Teaching

May 8, 2017
Paul Dellenback
Paul Dellenback

An accomplished teacher who has high expectations and the ability to raise students’ performance to match those expectations is a recipient of a top teaching award at the University of Wyoming.

Paul Dellenback, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is one of three recipients of the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award, established in 1977 by businessman John P. “Jack” Ellbogen to “foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW.” This year’s other winners are Eric Moorhouse, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, and Yan Zhang, a senior lecturer in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

Dellenback regularly teaches “Thermodynamics I,” “Thermodynamics II” and “Gas Turbine Engines,” in addition to serving as the associate dean for advancement in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS).

“Dr. Dellenback is constantly working to improve lectures even after teaching some of the same courses every year,” says Carl Frick, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “For example, in every lecture, he strives to relate the course material to real-world applications and current events. He deliberately writes his own new homework and exams each semester to ensure a high-quality learning experience.”

Student evaluations consistently note Dellenback’s strong command of the subject material and his ability to relate the material to practical situations.

“He is a great lecturer, cares about students’ learning and applies real-world applications to every class,” one student writes.

“He made sure students understood the real-world complexities of the course material and helped students become extremely prepared for their futures,” another student adds.

Former UW student Eric Parish says he views Dellenback as the “gold standard” as an instructor and professor.

“His teaching and mentorship shaped my undergraduate degree and postgraduate aspirations,” says Parish, a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan. “I have been inspired to work toward being a university professor so that I can impact future students in the same way Professor Dellenback impacted me.”

Frick adds that Dellenback possesses the teaching standard that his department strives to emulate.

“He makes it his personal responsibility to ensure our students are hard-working and well-trained,” Frick says.

Not only do students repeatedly comment on Dellenback’s enthusiasm in the classroom and his effective teaching style, but they also praise him for his accessibility and willingness to help outside of class time.

“He is constantly willing to be of service to his students, answering questions and expanding upon class material with his characteristic enthusiasm in order to advance their learning,” says Adam Block, a recent CEAS graduate. “Dr. Dellenback treats his students with tremendous fairness and respect, earning him their reverence and admiration in return.”

Dellenback joined the UW faculty in 1990 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. He also has served in the roles of graduate coordinator, undergraduate program coordinator and department head.

During his 27 years at UW, Dellenback has received numerous advising and teaching awards, including being honored six times as a “Top Prof” by members of UW’s chapter of Mortar Board, a national college senior honor society.

Dellenback received his B.S. in engineering physics (1978) and his M.S. in mechanical engineering (1980), both from Texas Tech University; and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering (1986) from Arizona State University.

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