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When it comes to learning about certain topics within the counseling field, Kent Becker has long been highly regarded among University of Wyoming students as "the guy" to learn from.
An associate professor and head of the Department of Professional Studies in the College of Education, Becker is recognized throughout the state and becoming known nationally as an advocate on behalf of children and family mental health issues.
Becker, Eric Nye, associate professor and Victorian scholar in the Department of English, and Allen Trent, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Studies, were all selected to receive 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."
Becker, who has been at UW since 1998, leads a department of 19 faculty members. He receives high praise from both colleagues and students for his classroom teaching.
"Very impressive are Kent's demonstration of excellence and positive growth in teaching throughout his career. Students appreciate his kindness, encouragement and support," says Professor Mary Alice Bruce. "Consistently acknowledged are his enthusiasm, new and fresh ideas, passion and competence related to the content knowledge. Students enjoy and learn from the myriad of experiential activities he provides during class for a practical approach to build on a comprehensive theoretical base."
Another colleague has known Becker since arrival on campus more than 10 years ago.
"I have observed from then until the present, what Kent brings to the Counselor Education program is commitment, compassion, and vision," says Jane Warren, an assistant professor. "Even more, he brings himself, a teacher with knowledge and awareness of what future counselors will need to know and do to competently enter the counseling profession. Students always comment how much they learn and like Kent's classes. For me, he has been a role model for effective classroom teaching."
Perhaps no higher praise for Becker's teaching style comes from the lives he has shaped through the years.
"Most students I know (including myself) always hoped to have Kent for the marriage and family class, as well as the advanced practicum course," a current counselor education graduate student says. "I have heard things such as, 'he just has such a way of putting things that are easy to understand,' or, 'Wow, he has a magic when it comes to issues with couples,' and 'He's just such a good supervisor.' I have always felt so supported."
"His course was incredibly challenging, but equally rewarding. I entered with preemptive fears of the subject matter and left with a feeling of competence and interest in the area. Kent is an awesome instructor," writes another.