UW Faculty Honored for Excellent Teaching

April 21, 2010

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

They are Kent Becker, associate professor and head of the Department of Professional Studies in the College of Education; Eric Nye, associate professor and Victorian Scholar in the Department of English; and Allen Trent, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Studies.

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.

There is perhaps no higher praise for Becker's teaching style than that 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.

Nye has crafted a reputation as a teaching "model" and one of the most important instructors at the university.

"He fervently believes in the power of literary inquiry to shape students into informed citizens who will pursue the social good. Consequently, he approaches each of his classes with a high seriousness, challenging students to read more rigorously than they ever have before," says Peter Parolin, head of the English department. "Students repeatedly mention in their course evaluations that 'this course was very stimulating and challenging,' or that 'Dr. Nye is tough, but I learned so much about the early Romantic period that it was worth the work.'"

In his 10 years at the University of Wyoming, Trent has inspired his students to emulate his passionate teaching style.

"This was the best, most meaningful class I have ever taken at UW. It really sparked the fire in my heart of how I am in charge of my classroom and art is the true definition of me," says one current student. "Therefore, I hope to take Allen's passion, love and enthusiasm for art and use it as inspiration of who I want to be as a teacher as well and transmit that desire onto my own students."

Current doctoral candidate Tanaya Moon Morris concurs.

"Dr. Trent has demonstrated to me time and again that he is an exceptional communicator and gifted teacher. In my opinion, he is the perfect model for any teacher, regardless of the discipline," she says.

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