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UW’s Marci Smith Receives Honor for Excellence in Teaching

May 16, 2022
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Marci Smith

An enthusiastic and engaging educator, who cares about her students and their success, both in and out of the classroom, is a recipient of a top teaching award at the University of Wyoming.

Marci Smith, a senior lecturer in the Division of Kinesiology and Health, is one of three recipients of the 2022 John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award. The award was established in 1977 by businessman John P. “Jack” Ellbogen to “foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW.” This year’s other recipients of the award are Man-Chung Yeung, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Jianting Zhu, a professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management.

Among the courses Smith teaches is “KIN 1101: Kinesiology -- The Science of Human Movement,” a first-year seminar. She designed the course with Mark Byra, now a professor emeritus in the Division of Kinesiology and Health.

“Based on my eight years of teaching KIN 1101 with Ms. Smith, I can say, unequivocally, that she is an exceptional teacher,” Byra says. “Ms. Smith serves her students well in creating a fair and equitable instructional environment for learning. She is extremely well organized, incredibly enthusiastic and very effective in creating an active-learning environment. Ms. Smith is truly concerned about and devoted to student learning in KIN 1101. She has high expectations of her students, and her students have high expectations of her.”

Another colleague has a similar assessment.

“We have taught in the classroom together several times this semester, and I am always impressed with her task organization and progression, the way she engages students in discussion and reflection, and her use of more active techniques to enhance student learning,” says Angela Simonton, an assistant lecturer in the division. “She is by far the embodiment of an outstanding teacher.”

A former student notes that Smith’s passion for teaching continued to shine during the pandemic.  

“When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, Marci continued to be there for her students, holding office hours weekly during their normally scheduled course times, offering words of encouragement through online announcements, and being maximally flexible when students had unique situations arise,” says MacKenzie DeHoff, who worked with Smith as a graduate teaching assistant. “She prerecorded every lecture with the same quality a student would have received had instruction been in person.”

Another student attests to Smith’s effective teaching style.

“Having now had Marci in multiple class settings, I can confirm that her teaching style, which is energetic, engaging and useful for what she knows her students will be using in their future professions, is a style that has helped not only me, but many other students,” says Alexander Dettmers, one of Smith’s nominators. “I believe being taught a subject by someone who is genuinely passionate about what they are teaching makes learning from them much easier and enjoyable.”

In addition to her teaching duties, Smith serves as her division’s internship coordinator and advising coordinator. She also is the adviser of two student organizations: Exercise is Medicine-On Campus and Phi Epsilon Kappa.

Since joining UW in 2003, she has received numerous teaching awards, including the College of Health Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award. She has been honored multiple times as a “Top Prof” by members of UW’s chapter of Mortar Board, a national college senior honor society. Additionally, she has received UW’s Promoting Intellectual Engagement in the First Year Award.

Smith earned her master’s degree in health and exercise science from Wake Forest University. She received her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science from Colorado State University.

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