WYO-Gold Teacher of the Year

head photo of a man
UW College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean and Professor Danny Dale

The student organization of the UWAA, WYO-Gold, awarded Professor Danny Dale the honor of Teacher of the Year for going above and beyond lessons in the classroom. 

By Heather Baker 

Professor Danny Dale has an impressive history, including earning a doctorate in physics and mentoring over 100 degree-seeking students. Dale’s background in astrophysics led to WYO-Gold students Gareth Flowers and Zander Smith interviewing him for the RSO’s pilot podcast Cowboys Corner “Space Cowboys.” 

“I enjoyed making the podcast experience fun for Gareth and Zander,” Dale says. “I liked seeing the podcast’s impact—how it helped them, the struggles they went through, and then seeing them come through on the other side with a polished product.”

For over 20 years, Dale has fostered college students’ lives outside the classroom. He directs the Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium, which educates and entertains many public and private groups each week. Dale also coaches the UW women’s hockey team. In his 13 years as a coach, Dale has met students from a variety of majors.

“I get to see another slice of the UW population,” Dale says. “It’s fun to have nursing students, pre-veterinarian students and others. What I especially like about the team that I coach is that they are so welcoming. They embrace everybody.”

The women’s welcoming environment likely evolves from the warm atmosphere that Dale creates. Walking into Dale’s office, visitors are greeted by a Yoda figurine and a happy smile. Regardless of the discussion topic, Dale keeps the exchange interesting with his facts and with his sense of humor.

Dale’s far-reaching impact impressed WYO-Gold students. Flowers never had a class with Dale, but Dale inspired Flowers throughout the podcast production process. Flowers could not think of a better person to interview for piloting the Cowboys Corner series.

“Being a teacher is more than creating assignments,” says Flowers. “I know Professor Dale has been super busy between his students, his research, and his work with the new telescope and as an associate dean. But he took the time to help Zander and me with the podcast. He has gone above and beyond—exemplifying what being a teacher means.”

Regardless of his long list of accomplishments, Dale remains humble. He enjoys science fantasy such as Star Wars and theorizing over other scientists’ contributions to their fields, especially Carl Sagan. Receiving recognition as WYO-Gold’s Teacher of the Year made an impact on Dale.

“We are humans, right?” Dale says. “To hear good things about your work feels really good. It means a lot, and so I try to pay it forward. Receiving the award makes me want to double down and ensure that I recognize other people’s efforts because recognition makes a huge impact on our lives. I want our students and my colleagues to know that everything that we do is worth the effort.”

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