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April 28, 2014 — A committee of University of Wyoming Student Alumni Association members has selected Janis A. Benson, senior lecturer in the Department of Accounting, as this year’s Outstanding Faculty award recipient.
The award recognizes faculty members who are “dedicated to student success and who make significant impacts in students’ lives.”
Hannah Peterson of Wellington, Colo., who will graduate this spring with bachelor of science degree in accounting, nominated Benson for the award.
“Jan Benson is an extremely effective teacher and helped me understand the extremely difficult content of accounting,” Peterson says. “Not only has she helped me beyond description in academics, but she has been supportive and understanding of me throughout my college career.”
These comments show the fruit of Benson’s efforts as a UW professor, both in and out of the classroom.
“I consider our students our customers and I want to give them best service I can,” Benson says. At the same time, she knows students have different needs beyond having their academic studies expedited by an efficient faculty.
“Students are unique individuals, each with their own hopes and dreams, fears and disappointments, challenges and opportunities,” she says. “In a small way, I want to help them reach their goals, provide support in challenging situations, and give a word of encouragement when things don't go as planned.”
Benson did not start out wanting to be a college professor. In fact, she was focused on raising her young children when she decided to study for a degree in accounting. Then she went on to earn a master’s degree in that field, which included working as a graduate teaching assistant at Kansas State University. That’s when she discovered she loved working with students.
She has received numerous honors and awards since she began her career at UW in 1999. She was a Mortar Board Top Prof in 2013 and the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Professor of the Year in both 2012 and 2013. Benson was named Ursel K. Albers Mentor of the Year by the Institute of Management Accountants in 2010 and was given the Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning’s Promoting Intellectual Engagement Award three times.
In addition to teaching, Benson has 20 years of experience in both public and private accounting.
All of these experiences contribute to her success in teaching.
“If I can make a small difference in someone else's life, then that's my definition of success,” she says.
Jan Benson, left, shares a laugh while reviewing an assignment with UW student Hannah Peterson. The UW Student Alumni Association members selected Benson as this year’s Outstanding Faculty award recipient. (UW Photo)