UW Faculty Honored for Excellent Teaching

May 7, 2008

John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Awards are being presented to five University of Wyoming faculty members.

They are Theresa Bogard, professor in the Department of Music; Jacquelyn Bridgeman, associate professor in the College of Law; Katta J Reddy, professor in the Department of Renewable Resources; Leslie Rush, assistant professor in the College of Education; and Lou Anne Wright, professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The awards are made possible by a fund established by Ellbogen to "foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW." Winners are selected from a list nominated by students, and the awards are based entirely on classroom performance and helpfulness to students. A native of Worland, Ellbogen established an endowment for teaching awards in appreciation for his family and state's encouragement of education.

Bogard's passion for teaching is unparalleled in the eyes of her students.

"I love your teaching style. You helped me improve a lot," said one student in her aural skills class, in which students learn complicated musical scores. Another said, "You are an amazing educator! Thank you so much fo all that you do for students."

One former piano student, Carolyn Cline, said, "There are very few people in my academic and musical lives who have had a more positive impact on me professionally and personally. I have worked with very few faculty members who have the ability to motivate and push their students to succeed like Dr. Bogard. Studying with her has made me a stronger person and musician, and I believe that is the definition of excellence in teaching."

A consistent theme in Bridgeman's classes, whether large or small enrollments, is a "tough love" approach to teaching -- demanding but willing to go to exceptional lengths -- and to spend countless hours outside the classroom to ensure that her students learn.

"By all accounts, she is a 'natural teacher,' yet she continually works to improve her teaching. She is also praised consistently for her effective use of instructional technology," said Jerry Parkinson, UW College of Law dean.
"Professor Bridgeman is helpful, humorous and extremely intelligent," a student said.

Perhaps one student's comment sums it up best: "Of all my professors, I know she would help me no matter what as long as I gave things my best efforts. If I gave slightly less, I'm not sure what would happen."

Internationally renowned for his research on the removal of arsenic from drinking water and mineral carbonization of hazardous wastes, Reddy is widely regarded as one of UW's most passionate professors.

"He taught with so much enthusiasm that he literally changed my life. After his course in watershed water quality management, I knew that I wanted to devote my life to the field of water quality," writes Carol Martinson, who is pursuing her M.S. degree under Reddy's watchful eye.

Adds Cynthia Milligan, a former student who now works as a water quality specialist in Anchorage, Alaska, "A professor who is of real value to an academic institution is one who takes the time to truly teach his students and who takes the time to keep updating his classes so that students are able to keep ahead of new research. Dr. Reddy is one of those professors."

Rush's work as a teacher has garnered her admiration and respect from many of her students.

Annie Gorenstein, a former student of Rush's, commended the professor on her attention to classroom dynamics.

"She is able to create a community within her classroom. By doing this, she creates an environment in which every student feels as though his or her opinion is valued and heard.

"She is open-minded when it comes to the opinions and ideas of her students, even when it comes to her own teaching methods," Forenstien said. "Her devotion and effort to further the education of her students as well as her own education make her an outstanding teacher."

Interesting, valuable, effective, essential and entertaining -- these words are laced throughout student evaluations for Wright. One student, Megan Antles, pointed out Wright's compassion and efforts to make students feel welcome.
"She exhibits nothing but an appreciated blend of patience, humor, knowledge and experience to all her students," she said.

Anna Brownsted, another of Wright's students, said the professor is a "constant source of encouragement and wit. She leads by example both inside the classroom and in the world."

Leigh Selting, the department's chair, said, "Lou Anne not only is successful in the teaching of the subject matter, but nearly every student speaks to the passion, zeal and personal impact she has made upon their lives and career, both academically and professionally," he said. "I find her approach to teaching refreshing, energetic and infectious."

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