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UW’s Fall Receives Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award

April 27, 2015
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Tyler Fall, a UW assistant academic lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies and Honors Program, is one of three recipients of the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award.

Whether he expounds on religious themes in a large lecture hall or teaches a small gathering in the Freshman Honors Colloquium, Tyler Fall is a University of Wyoming lecturer whom students and colleagues praise.

“Dr. Fall is not only one of the best professors in the Religious Studies Department, but one of the best at UW,” wrote a student who took one of his religion courses. “His courses are both intellectually stimulating and challenging while still being fun and interesting.”

Fall, a UW assistant academic lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies and Honors Program, is one of three recipients of the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award. Other Ellbogen winners are Courtney McKim, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Professional Studies; and Chip Kobulnicky, a UW professor of physics and astronomy, and observatory director.

“The award is tremendous. I'm grateful for the esteem and support of the Religious Studies Department, the Honors Program and, of course, the students,” Fall says.

Fall has taught Religious Studies and Honors since 2008. His teaching load includes four courses a year for Religious Studies and four for Honors. In addition, he usually teaches a summer course for Religious Studies, and frequently takes on an overload course during the fall and spring semesters.

“He not only teaches about religion, but also gives a lot of insight on human nature and ways to live a fulfilling life, which I think is important,” says a student who took Fall’s ‘Introduction to Religion’ course. “You definitely come away from the class feeling like you are more aware of important things.”

Students in his Honors “Colloquium II” course pointed to Fall’s ability to sharpen students’ critical thinking skills, tying the literature readings into everyday life. The class provided a comfortable atmosphere for questions and discussion.

“Fall is a masterful teacher, equally successful with freshmen and seniors, in the classroom and online, in large lectures and small seminars, who engages his students at all levels, helping them through difficult material and instilling them with the joy of learning,” says Susan Aronstein, interim director of the Honors Program, who nominated Fall for the honor.

Fall previously was the recipient of the Promoting Intellectual Engagement (P.I.E.) Award from 2010-15 and the Honors Program Upper Division Course Teaching Award in 2013 and 2014. In addition, he won the Thumbs-Up Award from the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council in 2013.

He received his M.F.A. in creative writing from UW, his master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, and his bachelor’s degree in history from Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va.

William Missouri Downs, a UW professor of theatre and dance, marvels at Fall’s ability to teach large lecture courses and hold students’ attention without resorting to theatrics. Instead, Downs says Fall does it the old-fashioned way, through well-structured lectures packed with interesting facts, theories, techniques and lessons that can be directly applied to students’ lives.

“Fall makes UW a better place every time he enters a classroom, logs on to an online course shell, or meets with a student in his office,” Aronstein says.

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