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Margaret Flanigan: Role Model for Life

April 25, 2011
Two men and a woman
Margaret Flanigan assists students Sean Reid, left, and Ed Waggy in an experiment to measure how much air Reid can blow out in one minute and how much lung volume he has. (UW Photo)

At the University of Wyoming, Margaret Flanigan teaches more than physiology.

She teaches life.

"At one point, I no longer had the desire to stay in Laramie due to unfolding events in my personal life," says Elise Sylar, a physiology senior. "I was devastated that the future I had anticipated was not the one for which I was destined. Dr. Flanigan instilled in me the wisdom that life is not solely about the destination. Life is about the journey that gets you there.

"I learned to live each moment of every day and enjoy those moments rather than constantly awaiting the future."

Sylar isn't the only student who has been touched by the compassion, influence and positive energy of Flanigan, one of three recipients for this year's 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."

The 2011 recipients also include Susan Frye, a professor in the Department of English, and Rachel Watson, a lecturer in the Department of Molecular Biology.

Since coming to UW in 2003, Flanigan has built a reputation as one of the strongest educators and lecturers on campus while becoming a role model for colleagues and students alike.

"Meg deserves this award not only because she is an extraordinary teacher. She deserves it also because she has changed how many of us teach and because she has touched the minds and hearts of innumerable students," says Carlos Martinez del Rio, one of Flanigan's counterparts in the Department of Zoology and Physiology. "She is a role model for all of us to aspire to help make this university better than it already is as a teaching and research institution."

Adds Edward Waggy, an M.S. candidate in the Division of Kinesiology and Health, "After spending eight years at the University of Wyoming, I have come across no finer an educator than Dr. Flanigan."

But, Sylar says, Flanigan does more than simply teach in a way that adheres to each student's learning style. She takes a genuine interest in each student's success.

"Her shared wisdom will nourish her students beyond their educational term at the University of Wyoming," Sylar says.

Like Sylar, Kelly Baxter credits Flanigan for her maturation as a person.

"As a professor, adviser, mentor and friend," says Baxter, a physiology senior, "I can think of no one else who better deserves recognition and reward for their accomplishments at this university and in life in general."

Flanigan is a graduate of the University of Strathcylde in Scotland (B.S., ‘84) and the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in South Africa (Ph.D, '93). She earned her postdoctoral fellowship in 1994 at the University of Toronto, Canada.

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