2008-2009 Teaching Excellence Award Recipients
The Undergraduate School
Joe Fred Gonzalez
Joe Fred Gonzalez has been teaching mathematics and statistics both on-site and online at UMUC since 1990. He recognizes that many students come to his classes with great concern and even anxiety about the subject and therefore uses the Socratic method of asking questions to keep them engaged and alert during lectures and discussions. Students frequently report that his teaching style combines humor, patience, and respect, as well as practical applications of the theories. This teaching style and his habit of giving additional support to any students who ask for help inspired one student to write in his nomination, "Professor Gonzalez is to math what Emeril is to cooking. He'kicks it up a notch!' Gonzalez easily shares his passion and enthusiasm for his discipline by incorporating his real-world experience as a biomedical mathematical statistician for the National Center for Health Statistics into his classes. This enthusiasm is seen in his commitment to supporting not only his UMUC colleagues, through the mentoring program and course development projects, but also by serving as an elected member of several professional associations, including the International Statistical Institute and the Mathematical Association of America. Gonzalez received his MS in statistics from George Washington University.
Duane Jarc began his teaching career at UMUC in 1985 in computer and information science. Over the subsequent years, he not only taught Web design and Java programming, but also developed Web-based courses and courseware that involve animations and visualizations of data structures and are highly interactive. Students watch these animations in a "Show Me" mode first to understand the concepts and then switch to an "I'll Try" mode to test their understanding. They consistently report that Jarc is patient, knowledgeable, and respectful in working with them, especially when they are struggling with complicated course concepts. One student wrote,"I was feeling doubtful about completing my degree, and he completely turned that around for me." Other students noted his ability to inspire them to work through the challenges of the course and their academic goals. In addition, Jarc provides guidance and support to other faculty in the computer and information science department by serving as a course chair and as exam chair for CMIS 241. His passion for teaching and learning is shared through his service as a mentor to new faculty who join his department. Jarc received his DSc in computer science from the George Washington University.
The Graduate School
Steven Clauser began teaching for UMUC in 1992. He brings extensive experience from his work as branch chief and senior scientist at the National Cancer Institute to the classroom. These experiences are often directly translated to debates modeled after real-world situations in an effort to improve students' practical administration skills. He is committed to continued self improvement by learning about cutting-edge developments in his profession. Clauser also encourages his students to follow this model by developing a lifelong learning plan in class for their own self-improvement and to stay current in their discipline. His students respond well to his interactive and supportive teaching style. They often remark on the effectiveness of his use of published transcripts after real time interactive chat sessions. In these chats, a student leads the class in a discussion, while Clauser provides additional relevant information on the subject and gives feedback to the students. One student noted that not only would Clauser's reviews"challenge us to think critically about each chapter read, but also on how our thinking processes could be enhanced if we challenge ourselves." Clauser has also been instrumental in creating, revising, and expanding online courses in health care administration. He has shown support of colleagues through his mentoring of new faculty. Clauser received his PhD in political science from the University of Minnesota.
Dennis Winters began his career at UMUC in 2004, teaching for both the Graduate School of Management and Technology and the School of Undergraduate Studies. Currently, he teaches a broad array of courses from organizational theory and behavior to intercultural communication and leadership to communication across the Generation Gap. His students frequently note that not only does he bring real-world experience and deep intellectual understanding to the classroom, but he also challenges them to transform their minds in learning about themselves and their environments. His continuous encouragement, sincerity, and energy in the classroom inspire his students to achieve more in their lives and careers beyond the classroom. Winters also supports his community at large with presentations on grass roots motivation and gives pro bono workshops focused on communication and cognitive acuity for caregivers at the University of Maryland Center for Aging. He is a frequent participant in UMUC faculty development programs and supports his colleagues as a mentor and coach. As a lifelong learner, Winters sees himself as an older variety of the UMUC student he teaches and is driven to share his joy of total involvement in communication, critical thinking, and management excellence. Winters received his PhD in rhetoric and public address from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
teaching of English, writing,
theatre, and the humanities with
UMUC Europe, is inspired by
his lifelong passion for literature:
“I want to open students to
the delight and wisdom that
come from engaging fully with
literature,” he says. Whether
teaching medieval myths or
introduction to public speaking,
Dr. Abrahamson, a collegiate
professor, has been sharing that
passion with students online and
in the United Kingdom since
Dr. Abrahamson’s classrooms are like chemistry labs, in which he believes students should “experiment with ideas and words” while he acts as a catalyst. In his courses, students do not merely reiterate memorized information; they discover their intellectual capabilities through a deep exploration of literature with the goal of making it personally meaningful. Outside of the classroom, he continues to engage the broader academic community through conferences and by publishing and presenting articles and lectures, as well as hosting his own radio show in Cambridge: Evening under Lamplight. He is also currently editing a volume of Robert Louis Stevenson’s essays for the Edinburgh University Press.
Prior to joining UMUC Europe, Dr. Abrahamson, originally from Philadelphia, taught with Rutgers University and was a tutor in literature with Cambridge University Continuing Education. He earned his BA from Amherst College, and both his MA and PhD from Rutgers University.
Brunhilde M. Künne
“A sound mind in a sound body” is truly Brunhilde Künne’s maxim for life, as exemplified by her avid love of the outdoors and her consistent excellence in the classroom. For over 30 years, Frau Künne, as her German students know her, has been creating “sound minds” in the Kaiserslautern Military Community through German language and culture courses.
A collegiate associate professor, Ms. Künne’s bilingual upbringing in Germany and her advanced studies in the United States make her particularly suited for teaching Americans living in Germany. “My task,” she says, “is to facilitate the students’ course of studies so they are not overwhelmed by the strangeness of their journey, but rather enticed by the novelty of their perspectives.” Teaching in Germany affords Ms. Künne additional opportunities outside of the classroom to offer fellow faculty and students her personal knowledge and expertise of local culture to enhance their learning experience.
When Ms. Künne isn’t busy with her academic and political work, she gives free German lessons to fellow colleagues and women from foreign countries, such as Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan who are currently living in her community.
She earned a BA from University of Colorado, an MS in education from University of Southern California, and an MS in international relations from Troy State University.