UH professors recognized by Board of Regents for excellence in teaching

University of Hawaiʻi
Arlene Abiang, (808) 956-5637
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Aug 28, 2006

HONOLULU — The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents have selected 14 professors from campuses across the university system as the recipients of the 2006 Regents‘ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. The award recognizes their extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness, creativity and personal values beneficial to students.

This year‘s recipients include:
· Danny Aiu, an assistant professor of sheet metal and plastics at Honolulu Community College. Aiu weaves life lessons focused on strategies for achieving success into his daily assignments. His positive and encouraging approach to teaching inspire and challenge his students. Beyond the classroom, Aiu has saved the college money by single-handedly replacing rusted and deteriorating rain gutters on many campus buildings. A colleague also noted that his contributions to the 9/11 Memorial "is the fruit of this nominee‘s ideas, energy and determination" and that his skill and creativity were invaluable in the development of the monument.

· Denise Antolini, an associate professor and director of the environmental law program at the William S. Richardson School of Law, UH Mānoa. Her philosophy of teaching law is grounded in experience as a practitioner in high-profile public interest litigation and a clerkship with a federal judge. She helped turn the Environmental Law Program into a national model through her interactions and supportive roles with the law students. A college observed, "Denise is an absolutely first-rate teacher, mentor, colleague, administrator and inspiration to those who are fortunate to know her."

· Rhonda Black, an associate professor of special education at UH Mānoa. She is committed to using the power of education to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, and those who are under-represented politically, socially and economically. She accommodates a variety of learning styles by utilizing visual media, simulated Town Hall Meetings, game show quizzes and group problem-solving cooperative projects in her classes. To Black, teaching is about connection—connection to students, community and content. She believes teaching is about who we are, and who we are becoming.

· Manuel Cabral, a professor of mathematics at Leeward Community College. Manuel has taught at the college for 26 years. Throughout the years, he has created a positive and enthusiastic environment where students thoroughly enjoy learning and thus set high expectations for themselves. In addition to extensive committee assignments, Cabral has also served as Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate, Chair of the Campus Council and Division Chair for 18 years. A student wrote, "There are not many people in the world like him."

· Kathryn Fletcher, an associate professor in general humanities/anthropology at Maui Community College. Fletcher believes anthropology is of immense importance because it promotes understanding among human beings. Her passion for teaching, compassion for students and her resourcefulness are standout traits to all those around her. She brings the complex subject of anthropology to life and ensures her classes are fun, creative and entertaining. A student commented, "She deserves to be recognized as a teacher, anthropologist and most of all, a friend. She‘s an ʻA‘ in my book."

· Anne Freese, a specialist in the curriculum studies at UH Mānoa. Freese‘s teaching approach involves designing learning events which facilitate student involvement and student learning through inquiry, reflection and collaboration. This approach allows her students to ask questions, make connections and draw upon their prior knowledge and experiences. She establishes a classroom that invites and encourages participation. A colleague observed, "She has a wealth of experience and knowledge in pre-service education, curriculum development and instruction, and is preeminent in the field of reflective practice and teacher self-development."

· Juith Gersting, a professor of computer science and chair of the department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. She strives to help each student be successful in the demanding courses in the curriculum. Under her leadership, Hilo‘s computer science department has become recognized as one of the very best in the nation. Gersting is also the author and co-author of three current college-level computer science textbooks. A colleague wrote, "The quality of education our students receive have made computer science graduates highly sought after for positions in both the public and private sectors."

· Laurel Gregory, a librarian at the UH Center at West Hawaiʻi. Students, faculty and staff speak highly of Gregory‘s rigor and discipline in researching and problem-solving as they sought her assistance on a variety of topics. As a model of life-long learning, she has inspired others to pursue their educational goals and has provided positive experiences to many of their journeys. Her contributions on a number of library councils have resulted in sharing resources between UH libraries, consistent library policies and increased access to electronic and print resources. "She is truly a ʻRenaissance‘ woman," noted a colleague.

· Andrew Harris, an associate professor in the Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at UH Mānoa. Harris provides instruction that is useful, accessible and understandable. He uses a variety of teaching materials to encourage critical thinking on contentious issues and invite his students to give their opinions. Recently, Harris re-designed one class and developed two new classes in volcanology. A student observed, "The ability to be a friend to the students and yet retain their uttermost respect is what defines the best teachers, and is what set Dr. Harris apparent from others."

· Keith Kashiwada, a professor of speech at Kapiʻolani Community College. After 16 years, Kashiwada continues to be one of the institution‘s most popular teachers. He believes that learning should be focused and purposeful, where application is valued over theory. His students credit him for giving them the skills, techniques, and tools that they can use in everyday life. Outside the classroom, Kashiwada participates in numerous activities including advising workshops, orientation sessions as well as teaching Kapiʻolani‘s first College Success courses. A student commented, "He is dynamic, inspirational and makes us realize our full potential."

· Brian Richardson, an instructor and librarian at Windward Community College. A true academic, Richardson has extensive knowledge in philosophy and political science. He encourages free-thought, individuality and questioning of political practices in his classes. As a librarian, Richardson has been instrumental in developing and bringing the Common Book Program to the Windward, which has turned out to be a very successful and widely accessible program for the college community. A colleague wrote, "His positive influences and commitment to the successes of various programs at Windward makes him a true asset."

· William Sharkey, a professor of speech at UH Mānoa. Sharkey‘s philosophy of teaching emphasizes three principles: develop and improve students‘ critical thinking skills; encourage them to apply theories and concepts learned in class to their everyday interactions; and show students respect. He has an open-door policy and has always been willing to meet with students outside of his weekly office hours. A colleague notes, "Bill is a consummate teacher. He is always prepared, meticulous, fair, and encouraging, while maintaining the highest standards for himself and his students."

· Nevzat Soguk, an associate professor of political science at UH Mānoa. Soguk uses interdisciplinary works to foster critical thinking in his students. He instills a sense of community in his classes so students are conducive to learning and intellectual growth. In his International Migration course, he takes the class to sites of historical significance for Hawaiʻi where students are able to interact with families and local people to get a "real feel" for migration and displacement in the Pacific. A student observed, "His creative energy, innovative ideas, scholarly research and dedication demonstrate his role as an educator and mentor."

· Albert Spencer, a professor in accounting at Kauai Community College. Spencer introduces confidence, a readiness to cope with challenges in school, life, the work place environment, and a desire for life-long learning in the students he comes into contact with. He believes in using cross discipline in his teachings and that no one discipline can stand alone. A student commented, "One thing that really impressed me about Al Spencer was when we expressed our confusion on a test question. He thanked us for sharing and said that the feedback will help improve his teaching method."

For more information, visit: http://www.hawaii.edu/about/awards/teaching.php