UH Hilo honors faculty with teaching awards

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
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Posted: May 27, 2009

Three members of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo faculty were honored with teaching awards at this year‘s spring commencement.

Dr. Michele Ebersole, associate professor of education, received the UH Board of Regents Award for Excellence in Teaching. Ebersole is second-generation faculty and the daughter of Ramon Goya, retired associate professor of health and physical education and former director of intercollegiate athletics.

Ebersole said receiving the BOR award was an honor made extra special by the mention of her father and the legacy he left at UH Hilo. She added that individual success reflects the collective efforts of many.

"I am extremely grateful to all the teachers and mentors in my life, especially my parents who were my first teachers and continue to share their wisdom and unwavering support," Ebersole said. "At the same time, this award would not have been possible without the role that my husband, children and students play in making my work so rewarding."

Her students describe her as sensitive, warm, caring and an exemplary scholar and role model with an untiring devotion to her students. In presenting the award, East Hawaiʻi Regent Harvey Tajiri said Ebersole makes her students feel that they have something important to contribute to the world.

"She fosters a sense of community in the classroom that promotes mutual respect and collaborative learning," Tajiri said. "Dr. Ebersole creatively designs assignments and empowers her students to take ownership of the learning process."

The Chancellor‘s Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Michael Skinner, instructor of history. Chancellor Rose Tseng said Skinner is a vibrant instructor who challenges his students to think critically beyond the common western world view.

"Michael stresses a creative interpretative process to understanding history, beyond mere knowledge of faith and events," Tseng said. "Lively discussion, collaborative learning and creative assignments help his students understand how historical forces shape our current world."

His students describe him as an instructor with rigorous standards who makes the learning process fun, is always available to assist them, and teaches them skills that can be used throughout college. Skinner described teaching as his passion, and was especially proud that his nomination came from students.

"Being nominated by students demonstrates that I was successful on some level of assisting them in their learning, which is all a teacher can hope for," he said.

Lisa Parr, instructor of marine science, was awarded the Francis Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Luoluo Hong described Parr as an enthusiastic instructor with a dynamic teaching style.

"Lisa is passionate about seeing her students succeed and shows them ways of teaching themselves through real life experiences and field activities," Hong said. "She is deeply involved with her students, mentoring them through research projects and assisting them with their post-graduation career and educational goals."

Parr‘s passion apparently resonated with her students, who submitted the nomination and wrote letters of support on her behalf. That recognition made the honor even more meaningful.

"I‘m extremely honored by the award," Parr said. "And to receive an award that was student initiated is particularly nice."