2001-2002 Teaching Excellence Award Recipients
The Undergraduate School
John M. Newman
John M. Newman has been a faculty member since 1981 and has helped develop interdisciplinary courses on the Vietnam War, America in the 1960s, African American and Chinese history and, more recently, courses on counter-terrorism and historical writing.
While teaching for UMUC–Asia in the 1980s, Newman founded the Great Issues Studies Program in Okinawa—a program of debates, symposia, and other functions in which UMUC and the local community participated together. He organized and led the first major American academic exchange with the People's Republic of China, which included a contingent of 63 UMUC students from all over Asia who visited China.
Students have consistently expressed appreciation for Newman's support of their learning. One student observed that Newman was willing to guide students through intimidating readings and assignments, and that by the close of the semester, most class members reported that they had learned a lot and enjoyed the process. Another student remarked, "Most of us wondered how he could possibly teach us African American history. I must admit, Dr. Newman kept the class spellbound with his eloquent lectures, [which] deepened my curiosity about African American history and gave me insight regarding the civil rights struggle during the Kennedy administration."
Newman's teaching philosophy encourages students to develop skills in critical thinking and independent interpretation, and he makes the extra effort to help students who may lack experience or academic strength.
Newman received his PhD from George Washington University in 1991.
Edwin G. Sapp
Edwin G. Sapp has more than 35 years of college teaching experience in technical writing, business communications, literature, argument, computer programming, operations research, and radio wave propagation theory. He has taught more than 90 courses at UMUC since 1993 and was ranked as an outstanding educator, within the top 10 percent of faculty, by students in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. He has served since 1999 as writing chair for all English courses under the communications general education requirement, and actively supports all new and experienced instructors by answering questions and sharing his own resources and teaching strategies.
Sapp is a prolific writer on technical issues involving U.S. military system performance and defense budgets. He also writes articles on stress management, effective counseling, and antique car restoration, and published a newspaper report on a new laser surgery procedure. His numerous fiction and nonfiction pieces include articles for Night Music, UMUC's literary magazine.
His teaching philosophy is to provide practical, challenging, and creative opportunities for his students to "learn about things worth knowing." He helps students apply their growing skills to real-life events, such as interviewing for a job, building a sense of community, and resolving problems. His warm and encouraging way of working with diverse audiences of adult learners has drawn praise, and students have expressed their appreciation for his classes, which have helped them obtain better jobs, promotions, or increases in pay.
While he admits to being an "old-fashioned teacher in a new-fangled environment," Sapp is a leader in his commitment to learning and inspiring his colleagues and his students to achieve high standards.
Sapp received his JD from the University of North Carolina in 1962 and his MLA from the Johns Hopkins University in 1973.
The Graduate School
Henry C. Alberts
Henry C. Alberts has taught courses in system analysis, design, and information technology at UMUC since 1998, when he retired as professor of engineering management at the Defense Systems Management College of the U.S. Department of Defense. During the course of his career, he conducted research on supersonic flow and aerodynamics for the U.S. Army's Ballistic Research Laboratories and later worked on the design and fabrication of the first U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile and satellite vehicles for the U.S. Air Force Geophysical Research Directorate.
Alberts was also the head of operations research and assistant to the president of AVCO Corporation, where he focused on the design and building of complex management systems. In addition, he worked for Stanford Research Institute in research and as a management and systems consultant in Europe.
His teaching philosophy focuses on mature students who need the instructor's personal recognition and consideration. He believes that "instructors may add to their own knowledge and usefulness at the same time they provide information and knowledge to their class." Students have responded favorably, remarking in one instance that he "brought a wealth of personal knowledge to the class and stimulated meaningful discussion." Another student offered this apt summary of his strengths: "I enjoy Dr. Alberts very much. Since my technical background is weak, his lecture material was especially helpful in understanding the material. It was excellent! Dr. Alberts has a true gift for explaining technical material in a way that can be understood."
Alberts received his PhD from the City University, London, England, in 1995.
Joseph H. Myers
Joseph H. Myers has been a faculty member in technology and management since 1992. He is the chief of Strategic Planning and Policy Development for the Small Business/Self Employed Division of the Internal Revenue Service. He spent 15 years with the U.S. General Accounting Office and was responsible for numerous management reviews of cabinet-level agencies. During that time, he spent five years as a key staff member for both the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations.
Myers' teaching philosophy revolves around "four principles: relevance, class discussion, student support, and continuous communication"—plus, he adds, "making it fun." These requirements involve updating his courses and encouraging students to share and work with their perspectives and experiences, since they are often employed with corporate leaders, such as Marriott Corporation, IBM, Lockheed Martin, AT&T, and EDS.
Student comments reflect success in his commitment to this philosophy. One student said that Myers "...provided an environment that was fast-paced, challenging, and very relevant. [He] provided great illustrations and examples from today's work [and] a real-world perspective on the material." Another class member remarked, "Myers was the best professor I have had. His information was very well organized and applicable. He really encouraged students to give examples from their own work experience. That, along with his good nature, provided the classroom with learning and interaction. He is clear and logical, providing insights [and] material that the books don't cover."
Myers received his MS from Carnegie Mellon University in 1974.
Antonio Ruiz-Canavate began teaching for the Maryland in Europe consortium in 1983, and has taught more than 100 courses in zoology, biology, general science, chemistry, and mathematics primarily at the education center in Rota, Spain. He also teaches at the University of Cadiz and for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Ruiz-Canavate holds a PhD in marine science from Cadiz University and a master's degree in oceanography from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is a graduate of the Spanish Naval Academy.
Ruiz-Canavate is a retired Spanish Navy captain whose teaching philosophy echoes his philosophy of life: "Be enthusiastic about what you have to do, and enjoy doing it—especially learning."
Joseph W. Naas
Joseph W. Naas earned a BS in journalism, an MA in English, and a JD degree from the University of Kansas. Before coming to UMUC–Europe in 1986, he practiced law in Kansas City as an attorney and member of the Missouri bar. He also worked as a reporter and editor for two major daily newspapers. Naas' expertise in law, literature, and writing has allowed him to teach numerous English and speech courses for UMUC–Europe, first at Soesterberg, the Netherlands, and from 1994 on primarily at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium and in Brussels. Naas sees his role as a teacher as that of "a guide leading students through the forest of knowledge."