2009-2010 Teaching Excellence Award Recipients
The Undergraduate School
Sabrina Fu has been teaching environmental management and biological and natural science courses on-site and online at UMUC since 2001. Her philosophy is that teaching and learning are integral parts of a path toward sustainability. To succeed in our diverse world, Fu sees the need to "get out of her box" and integrate other related subjects—ethics, information literacy, writing, critical thinking—into her teaching.
She recognizes the diversity of her students and makes efforts to get them involved in learning not only in the classroom but also in their local communities. One such effort found her supporting an interdisciplinary group of UMUC students in winning a People, Prosperity, and the Planet grant award from the Environmental Protection Agency, which allowed students to create educational tools for the public and an online repository of resources to reduce, recycle, and reuse.
Students frequently report that her teaching style combines encouragement and correction and is respectful, patient, and inspirational. Fu easily shares her passion and enthusiasm for her discipline beyond the classroom and supports her UMUC colleagues through mentoring. She also supports faculty at other institutions by serving as a master reviewer for the Quality Matters Program, a nationally recognized, faculty-centered, peer-review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components.
Fu received her PhD in physical chemistry from University of California, Berkeley.
Linda Ruggles began teaching history in UMUC's Asian Division in 1993 and moved back to the United States and began teaching in Adelphi in 1998. For Ruggles, the study of history is the study of everything in the past—from art to politics, medicine, religion, and beyond—and she believes that the interpretation of what happened in the past now informs and influences decisions on what will happen next. Her objective in every class is to help her students develop research skills and to present their findings in a logical manner, backed with references, and to draw clear conclusions from their analysis.
Not only is Ruggles supportive of students in her classroom, she also serves as the faculty advisor of the UMUC online history club, which includes the local chapter of the national history honor society. With her guidance and support, UMUC students have presented at both regional and national conferences.
In addition, Ruggles provides leadership to other faculty in history and government by serving as a mentor and coach, as well as the course chair for the U.S. survey courses and the history research and writing course.
Ruggles received her PhD in education from Capella University.
The Graduate School
Anita Baker began teaching for UMUC in 2004. She has been instrumental in revising and expanding online courses in business administration, particularly in global business and business ethics. Baker brings to the classroom extensive experience from her work with the Foreign Service Institute, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and the World Bank Group, as well as from her current work as an independent consultant for the U.S. government and other organizations. As an ethics officer in two large organizations, Baker became well acquainted with employees' daily concerns and longer-term issues. Her sympathetic understanding, encouragement, and willingness to inspire and motivate employees now translate well to her dealings with her students, so that they too achieve high standards and find satisfaction in learning.
Her commitment to continued self-improvement is evidenced by her wide knowledge of business publications and her creation and facilitation of workshops for diverse audiences worldwide. These studies and experiences have enabled Baker to introduce her students to current issues, information, and developments.
Students have responded well to her interactive and supportive teaching style. They often remark on her organization of special class sessions (beyond the scheduled class time) for students who had problems understanding concepts or models used in class. Students also noted how she has incorporated a sense of humor, as well as various media, into their learning experiences.
These efforts and her support of colleagues through mentoring new faculty and presenting faculty development workshops make Baker a notable example of professional teaching excellence.
Baker received her PhD in history from Cornell University.
Arthur Reynolds began his career at UMUC in 1986. He teaches a broad array of courses in health law, health care policy, procurement and contract management, health care administration, and legal aspects of business management. His students frequently note that not only does he make a challenging introductory course interesting by integrating concepts from other disciplines (e.g., history, political science, and economics), but he also takes the time to truly welcome and support new students to the world of graduate study at UMUC. His continuous encouragement, positive attitude, and readiness to assist inspire his students to achieve more in their lives and careers beyond the classroom.
Reynolds has often assumed responsibility for courses on short notice, demonstrating a dedication to meeting the needs of graduate students. He also has supported the needs of the Graduate School's administration by participating in the revision of the graduate course on the legal aspects of health care administration. Faculty members have benefited from his knowledge and expertise as shared in meetings and in his frequent role as a mentor.
Reynolds received his JD from the William Mitchell College of Law.
Pong-su Kim began his career at UMUC Asia in 1984 and has taught Korean language, culture and history. He wants to see his students succeed and understands the unique needs of his military students. He explains, "My UMUC students have demanding schedules and often have to miss classes due to military duties, exercises and TDYs. I always try to accommodate their needs, including offering time to study on Saturdays and Sundays." This type of dedication does not go unnoticed by his students. In fact it inspired one student to write, "He helps students to meet and exceed course objectives. He also gave us extra time for studying and helps on the weekends, as well as during the week." Professor Kim has also published various essays in The Korean Times, written books and given several speeches. He received his M.A. in English Language and Literature from Yeungnam University.
Spyridon Therianos began teaching with UMUC Asia in 1981 after having worked as a data processor. He has taught in various locations throughout Korea and Guam before relocating to the states in 2007. Though he no longer teaches on site classes in Asia, Therianos still reaches out to his students through Distance Education classes. He brings his understanding of living in foreign countries to the classroom. In his teaching philosophy statement he writes, "I view teaching Mathematics like teaching a foreign language, and to most students it is a foreign language. Everything must be explained clearly and in detail, repeated and reinforced." This viewpoint, in regards to Mathematics, is appreciated by his students. One of his students writes, "Dr. T goes out of his way to ensure that every aspect of the course is easily understood." Therianos received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
John L. Barbato
"Don't just inform… transform students with relevant and tangible course content" is the teaching philosophy that guides John L. Barbato. Focusing on a holistic approach to teaching, he connects with students and discovers who they are and what they aspire to in life. "We are all here for the same reason–to laugh and learn," he said.
Following in the footsteps of his father, a UMUC teacher for more than 17 years, Mr. Barbato began teaching business courses for UMUC in Geilenkirchen and Bremerhaven in the 1990s. He has since taught on four different continents and has appreciated his role as a collegiate associate professor because of the unique opportunities and the satisfaction that teaching brings. "But most of all," he emphasized, "it's because of the students."
Mr. Barbato particularly enjoys teaching marketing and the "entire gamut of what marketing entails." His students have developed business strategies and advertising campaigns for both large companies and community organizations, providing them something valuable for their professional portfolios. He draws upon his extensive professional experience to motivate students and often asks, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" to get them thinking about their career opportunities. He also encourages students to define what he calls "their me thing."
Having been a military family member his entire life, Mr. Barbato has a strong understanding and respect for the military environment: "Many UMUC Europe students work, have families, and must make sacrifices to attend classes and pursue their degrees. I value a student's commitment and take my responsibilities as a teacher very seriously."
Additionally, he places a special emphasis on community outreach projects. During a recent teaching assignment in Afghanistan, he helped coordinate a program between the Special Forces Unit in Bagram and the State of Maryland Youth Soccer Association to have soccer equipment delivered to Bagram. He also helped distribute much needed school supplies to children through Operation Care.
Mr. Barbato holds a BA in organizational communications and an MBA in marketing and international business from the University of Colorado.
Pilar Pulido has a unique understanding of adult students gained through personal experience: while earning her first degree, she worked full time, was a single parent, and attended an American university even though her native language is Spanish. She has been teaching undergraduate and graduate computer and language courses with UMUC in Italy since 2002.
"Today, I sit on the other side of the desk and see a reflection of myself in many students. As a teacher working in an adult educational environment, I have come to further appreciate the diversity and wealth of experience students bring," Ms. Pulido explained "They are the people who make up a great nation – soldiers willing to serve their country on foreign lands."
Inspired to give back to the community and help students achieve their goals, Ms. Pulido became a UMUC collegiate associate professor. This was a natural fit considering her long connection to the university. She started as a UMUC student, later became a field representative, and then served as a computer technician. She said, "UMUC provides a real opportunity for the overseas military community to have a chance at an education, just as I did, and I want to be a part of that."
Although her main goal is for students to learn in her courses, she also feels responsible for encouraging students to continue with their education. "This is only possible if students feel challenged throughout my course and fulfilled when they complete it."
Ms. Pulido is actively engaged not only in teaching, but in learning new information to share with her students. Particularly interested in digital technology and multimedia, she integrates this knowledge for an enriched classroom experience. Viewing the world as an "open textbook" that helps individuals learn and grow, Ms. Pulido takes a personal, fun, and respectful approach to teaching.
"I know something about each of my students and I challenge them in a personalized way. I love what I do. My passion for students to learn is real, and they can feel that. I want to thank each of them for giving me the chance to be their teacher."
Ms. Pulido enjoys reading, writing poetry, and the simple pleasure of spending time with family and friends. She holds a BA in English, an MS in Information Technology, and graduate certificates in information assurance and homeland security management from UMUC.