UW-L again recognizes excellence in teaching this year with the second annual Provost Teaching Excellence Awards. Students submitted about 400 nominations, which were narrowed down to six winners. This year’s winners will be recognized at graduation and at the Chancellor’s All-University Address in the fall.
- Jeff C. Bryan, Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Samuel Cocks, Philosophy
- Scott Doberstein, Exercise and Sports Science
- Sara Docan-Morgan, Communication Studies
- Gregory Sandland, Biology
- Jörg Vianden, Student Affairs Administration
Jeff C. Bryan
Jeff C. Bryan, Chemistry and Biochemistry, teaches nuclear and general chemistry. Bryan came to UW-L 12 years ago after spending 13 years performing research on radioactive materials at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Laboratories. “I was a total geek,” says Bryan, “I didn’t know much about teaching, but I’ve always felt it was what I really wanted to do with my life.”
It meant a significant cut in pay and benefits, but Bryan has never looked back, even after a rough first semester of teaching general chemistry. “I was fortunate to land at a university with so many supportive and enthusiastic colleagues. I was able to learn a lot from them,” he says, adding “much of what I do in the laboratory and lecture hall I’ve adapted from others.”
He also gives credit to his students. “They are bright, eager and hardworking. It is a joy to see them learn and grow.”
Samuel Cocks, Philosophy, teaches Asian Philosophy, 19th and 20th Century Continental Philosophy and Environmental Philosophy. He has taught at UW-L since fall 2009.
Prior to UW-L, he taught part time at several colleges and universities in the New Jersey and New York area, including SUNY-New Paltz and Eugene Lang College.
His favorite part of teaching involves seeing the students become excited or fascinated by the ideas, and then reaching the point where they are able to apply them to a variety of complex topics. He also enjoys the sense of community that often develops in the classroom.
Scott T. Doberstein
Scott T. Doberstein is in his 16th year of teaching within the Exercise and Sports Science Department. Prior to UW-L, he worked at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.
Doberstein has taught more than 25 different classes at UW-L primarily in the Athletic Training Education Program, Anatomy & Physiology and Clinical Pathology.
His favorite part of teaching is taking a complex topic and giving the students the information and tools to learn the material in a way that they understand it better than they ever realized they could. “Using different methodologies, students can comprehend anything if you find the right way to reach them,” he says. “When the light bulb goes off, everyone is a winner. The teacher’s job is to find the best and supportive ways to get the bulb to light up… the majority of the time!”
Sara Docan-Morgan, Communication Studies, teaches courses in research, interpersonal communication, and race and culture. She started at UW-L in fall 2008.
Prior to UW-L, she completed her doctoral degree at the University of Washington in Seattle. While in graduate school, she also taught at several community colleges on the west coast and did litigation consulting on the side.
Docan-Morgan says she always knew that teaching was her calling. Her favorite part is building relationships with students. “To see them grow intellectually and emotionally, both throughout our time together and after they graduate, is so rewarding,” she says.
Gregory Sandland, Biology, teaches Organismal Biology, Parasitology and a senior-level biology capstone course. He has taught at UW-L for seven years.
Prior to UW-L, he earned his doctoral degree from Purdue University in 2005 and then a post-doctorate at Purdue from 2005-07. In school he studied host-parasite interactions and disease ecology.
He enjoys having the opportunity to broaden student backgrounds, which he hopes changes the way they perceive the world around them.
Jörg Vianden, Student Affairs Administration, is finishing his fourth year of teaching at UW-L.
While he has taught most of the courses within the department, he typically teaches History of Higher Education, Administration of Higher Education, Higher Education and Student Affairs Assessment and the capstone writing courses.
Before coming to UW-L, Vianden, a native of Germany, worked as a student affairs administrator for four different, large public universities.
Vianden enjoys seeing students create community in the classroom based on personal and professional respect. He watches this community turn into life-long friendships. He also enjoys when students critically interrogate sources, viewpoints or institutional problems and arrive at their own well-founded argument. They notice they have gained critical thinking skills in the process.