2004-2005 Teaching Excellence Award Recipients
The Undergraduate School
Robert C. Horn has taught more than 600 class hours for UMUC's Undergraduate School, both online and face-to-face, in human resources and business management. He has helped develop a number of undergraduate courses and is an online faculty trainer.
Horn works hard to create a bridge between classroom theory and workplace reality. In his own words, he succeeds when "students excel beyond their own expectations."
Horn received his EdD in educational administration from New Mexico State University.
George J. Takacs first taught for UMUC in Europe in 1972. The coauthor of the book, Games That Teach Teams (Pfeiffer, 1999), he is also the author of three UMUC courses in business and technology and has taught a variety of courses in marketing and computer applications. As a facilitator for the CTLA 201 Teaching with WebTycho course, he has also helped many of his colleagues make the transition to online teaching.
Takacs stresses the importance of interaction in his courses and, to that end, provides detailed feedback on assignments, requires that students work in teams, and encourages communication. His students respond enthusiastically.
Takacs received his MA from the University of Notre Dame.
The Graduate School
Joan Berkowitz, who has taught environmental management courses for UMUC's Graduate School since 1995, is a senior environmental manager and owns an environmental consulting firm. She has taught close to 20 different courses in the University's environmental management program and has helped design several of them, including the program's capstone course.
Berkowitz earns regular praise for her student-centered teaching philosophy and her efforts to get to know each student and his or her individual needs. She regularly tailors lesson plans and assignments to the course objectives that she asks each student to submit.
Berkowitz received her PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Information on UMUC Europe is not available
Ms. Christine Beaupré, Collegiate Associate Professor with UMUC, holds a B.S. in management and organizational behavior from New York University and M.S. in computer science education from Nova Southeastern University. She currently teaches computer studies courses in the Tokyo area and in the online Distance Education program. Ms. Beaupré joined UMUC Asia in 1998, serving as Academic Director for the Computer Studies program from 2000 to 2003 before returning to full-time teaching. She makes use of a wide variety of teaching techniques in her student-centered classes, including lecture and discussion, presentations, simulations and games, hands-on lab work, and debate. The appropriate mix depends on the level and content of the course. For example, in an introductory course students may play a Jeopardy-like game as an aid to learning essential vocabulary. She takes full advantage of technology, using a laptop computer and projector during most classes and setting up course-specific web sites to post class material, show samples of programs, compile assignments, showcase student work, and to supplement the textbook in the rapidly-changing computer field.
Ms. Gyongyi Plucer-Rosario, Collegiate Associate Professor, initially taught with UMUC from 1984 to 1992 after receiving her M.S. in marine biology from the University of Guam. Her B.A. in humanistic ecology is from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Ms. Plucer-Rosario has done research on rare and endangered corals and coral reefs. Her 1982 Hard Coral Survey was an influential study of the damage to coral resulting from tourism and development. She rejoined the faculty in 1999 and has taught in Guam and in the Distance Education program. Her goal in teaching biology is to open students' eyes to the world around them, to examine how life and the world interact and how humans impact that world, and to help students think critically about what is presented in the media. She provides detailed content and format guidelines for assignments; uses peer review of papers to help both writers and reviewers; and compiles topical articles that students read outside of class and then discuss in small groups. Since it can be hard after a long day for students to stay alert in an evening class, she finds that a little performance during the class lecture helps keep attention levels high; her lecture on symbiosis involves an enactment of a clownfish squeezing through the tentacles of an anemone.
Dr. Barry Pollick, Collegiate Associate Professor, joined UMUC Asia in 1996 and has taught in Korea, Misawa, and more recently in Okinawa. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Chicago, an M.A. in communication from Cleveland State University, and a Ph.D. in communication from Kent State University. He has taught at Cleveland State and Kent State and also has teaching experience at the secondary level. Dr. Pollick has varied experience as a professional writer, having been employed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland's East Side News, has been a radio talk show host, and has made several presentations at professional conferences. In the classroom he works to create a positive learning environment in writing and speech communication classes. He has various creative ways of getting students to think critically about language and how it is used. One method that helps keep teaching and learning fun for both student and teacher is requiring students, after learning about transitional phrases, to ask all questions beginning with a transitional phrase or word. The consequences may sometimes be hilarious, but it is the full awareness of transitions that is the real goal of the lesson. The exercise illustrates how creative students can be while actually using correct language.
Mr. Michael Tisher, Collegiate Assistant Professor, has taught for UMUC since 1999 at Sasebo and Misawa in Japan and in the UMUC Asia Distance Education program. He received his B.S. in computer science and his M.S. in mathematics from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, taking additional graduate work in mathematics at Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, where he earned a second M.S. degree. Mr. Tisher taught mathematics at McNeese State and Louisiana State. He also was employed at the Exxon Computing Services Center in Houston, Texas. In his teaching he works to create a learning environment that can help all students succeed in his math classes. This often means being available to students during the day, at special Saturday tutoring sessions, and at other times as needed. Where students seem to be dealing with "mathematics anxiety," he uses these settings to help students develop the confidence and skills they need to reach their potential. In class Mr. Tisher is known for his high standards and challenging assignments. An accomplished musician, he sometimes plays the violin to relate mathematical sine waves to music and uses other real-world examples to help reinforce math concepts. Out of class, Mr. Tisher is active in organizing Maryland Presents, a community forum for showcasing the talents of UMUC Asia faculty.