Recipient Profiles - DTA

2016 Distinguished Teaching Award Winners

Trygve Faste - Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy

Trygve FasteAssistant Professor Trygve Faste is a brilliant designer in the Product Design Program of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. What do Hasbro toys, Scandinavian Airlines service trays, John Deere lawnmowers, virtual reality headsets, Eli Lilly medical devices and MGM Las Vegas water features all have in common? Trygve Faste worked on their design. 

Already recognized for his teaching excellence at the national level as the recipient of the Young Educator of the Year by the Industrial Designers Society of America, Professor Faste has inspired his students to reach beyond themselves to achieve levels that have received international, professional recognition.

As one colleague states, “Despite his talent he remains incredibly humble. This really resonates with students and allows them to be close to him, learning more openly and more easily. His approach to teaching demonstrates the importance of being a strong role model to students, leading by example and showcasing his exceptional qualities as a mentor.”

Faste’s teaching covers a range of topics from design to drawing; from lecture courses on design process to senior level capstone studios. “He is a gifted educator who brings rigor, powerful conceptual thinking, enthusiasm, and organizational skill to the studio and classroom,” states a colleague. As one student noted, “just a few strokes of his pencil can speak volumes.” Faste is a role model to both students and colleagues. He exemplifies the traits of a great teacher: someone who can talk the talk, but even more so walks the walk.

In recognition of his achievement and expertise in the area of product design, Trygve Faste is a recipient of a 2016 Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy.

Alison Kwok - Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy

Alison Kwok with Scott Coltrane and studentsProfessor Alison Kwok specializes in architectural green design strategies and environmental technologies in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. She is a brilliant practitioner and scholar who has been key to the Department of Architecture’s ranking as #1 in the U.S. in Sustainable Design Practices and Principles by DesignIntelligence.

As a highly skilled mentor and teacher, Kwok has taught in the areas of studio design, green design strategies, environmental technology, and case studies in sustainable design. Professor Kwok took the lead in the development of the department’s new PhD program in Sustainable Design (initiated in 2011) and was the program’s first director. In addition, she is director of the graduate certificate in technical teaching.

Kwok is instrumental in teaching students how to teach, particularly in the required class ARCH 661 Teaching Methods in Technology. In ARCH 491/591, a large lecture course on environmental control systems, Professor Kwok employs a wide variety of teaching methods and techniques and is committed to instilling in students a commitment to design that dramatically reduces or eliminates the use of fossil fuels in building design, construction, operation and decommissioning.

One student wrote of her work with Professor Kwok, “(she) is one of the most remarkable and passionate teachers I've encountered. Her enthusiasm for Environmental Control Systems and learning is contagious and keeps students actively participating in lecture. What impresses me the most about her is that she reaches out to students outside of class and is very approachable because she approaches us first.” Another writes, Professor Kwok is “one of my favorite teachers here at the University of Oregon. She is quirky and speaks her mind on things no matter how silly. She is great at what she teaches.”

Professor Kwok has made extraordinary and innovative contributions in the area of sustainable design pedagogy and in architecture schools across the U.S. and internationally, as well as to the profession of architecture.

In recognition of her achievement and expertise in the area of sustainable design, Alison Kwok is a recipient of a Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy.

Stephen McKeon - Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching

Stephen McKeon and Scott ColtraneAssistant Professor Stephen McKeon has proven to be a highly effective and versatile instructor of finance in the Lundquist College of Business (LCB). McKeon successfully teaches rigorous courses in all three LCB programs: undergraduate, MBA, and doctoral. The ability to teach and inspire students at all levels is rare indeed.

Innovative course materials, tailored to student interests, are a key element in his success at motivating students to learn. Student comments commonly attest to how engaging and motivating he is as an instructor. They consistently praise his organization, his ability to make complex topics understandable, his real world examples, his availability, and his concern for student learning. That is reflected in his consistently high student evaluations. McKeon’s courses are challenging, but his students recognize the value of what they are leaning.

A student writes, “The material that I learned in this class seems very relevant. I feel as though I learned something important every single day in class.”

In addition to his exemplary classroom teaching, his role as primary faculty advisor to the University of Oregon Investment Group (UOIG) is instrumental in providing students with meaningful and transformative experiential learning. Upwards of $1 million in UO Foundation money is managed by the UOIG. This incredibly valuable real-world experience supplements the finance coursework and prepares ambitious undergraduates for jobs not traditionally available to LCB students. Stephen is exceptionally generous with his time and effort, for example, planning trips to New York and San Francisco which further increase the career opportunities of his students. His students know that he genuinely cares about their learning and their future success in the world.

In recognition of his excellence in teaching, Stephen McKeon is the recipient of the 2016 Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Leah Middlebrook - Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching

Leah Middlebrook and Mike SchillJudged by colleagues “a master teacher whose work…has promoted pedagogical excellence at all levels,” Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Languages Leah Middlebrook has long been recognized as an exceptional teacher and mentor of teachers. As an assistant professor, she received the coveted Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching, UO’s highest teaching award for faculty in their early careers. Her ongoing commitment to classroom innovation has earned her not one but two Rippey Innovative Teaching awards to enrich her first-year classes in the FIG program. In 2015, she was selected as an Active Teaching and Learning Fellow in the Teaching Effectiveness Program to support a thoroughgoing revision of her introduction to comparative literature class, enhancing its creativity, interactivity, rigor, and skill building.

An expert on early modern Spanish, French, and English lyric poetry and poetics, Professor Middlebrook teaches regularly at all levels, from introductory courses for first-year students to the most advanced and specialized doctoral seminars. At every level, she displays a tireless commitment to pedagogical excellence and innovation: whether revising her COLT 101 into a cutting-edge lecture course, focused on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, which yielded “remarkable” student engagement and creativity through journal entries and multimedia blog posts, or serving as Comparative Literature’s Director of Pedagogy, leading their GTF pedagogy orientation during Week of Welcome and running their required GTF Pedagogy Colloquium, which covers all matters of pedagogy, both practical and ethical. 

Professor Middlebrook’s students consistently note her passion, knowledge, generosity, and creativity.  One graduate student’s comments are typical: "Immensely knowledgeable and extremely helpful, Professor Middlebrook is an asset to the University of Oregon.” Her teaching “sets a perfect example for anyone looking for innovative pedagogical techniques."

In recognition of her excellence in teaching, Leah Middlebrook is a recipient of a 2016 Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Mike Price - Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching

Mike PriceSenior Instructor Mike Price is recognized for his sustained and incredible dedication to education through the Department of Mathematics. Price not only teaches some of the largest classes on campus, but he teaches calculus to non-math majors and is extraordinarily successful in creating excellent learning outcomes. 

One of Price’s students from his 400+ student calculus class said it best, “I can honestly say that this was the best professor I have experienced at the University of Oregon. It has truly been a privilege to take this course, as his teaching exceeded all of my expectations. Mike communicated the class material in such a clear and proficient manner. He made the material fun to learn, and he was always sure to go at a reasonable pace for us. He has such an enthusiastic and lively personality, which made this class rather enjoyable. He also shows a great amount of respect to his students. I really appreciate the amount of effort he put into this course inside and outside of class. He was always readily available to answer questions, through both email and office hours. He even took this a step further by offering online videos and notes to help us learn. I have no complaints. The math department should be honored to have him teach at this school.”

Price is known for excellence in the classroom, and for providing growth and inspiration to the next generation of educators.  In addition to his own exemplary large-class instruction, he is dedicated to growing the next generation of math educators. Each fall, Price teaches a pedagogy seminar to graduate teaching fellows, and each spring he does the same for undergraduate teaching assistants. This type of mentorship is a crucial step to ensuring that future college and university math instructors are introduced to the scholarship of teaching and learning, and how to create engaging student-centered active learning environments.

In recognition of his excellence in teaching, Mike Price is a recipient of a 2016 Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Elizabeth Ruiz Frost - Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy

Elizabeth Ruiz Frost and Mike SchillDescribed by students as “a teacher that fully believes in her students” and who helps them progress “academically farther than they knew was possible,” Elizabeth Ruiz Frost is an exceptional teacher of legal research and writing at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Ruiz Frost employs innovative pedagogies for formative assessment. These include ways to better support students with feedback and how to improve examples of model work. A colleague writes that Ruiz Frost is known for producing high-quality research projects for students that combine “the perfect balance” of structure, guidance, and independence.  Students say that they feel supported, invested, and challenged with Ruiz Frost, whom they find accessible and deeply knowledgeable. For instance, when Ruiz Frost took over the Advanced Legal Research course several years ago, she changed the focus from breadth to depth, and challenged students with new activities. She has initiated “writing under pressure” modules, a writing lockdown exercise, and student writing awards within the law school. She receives high marks in student evaluations.

Ruiz Frost was selected in her third year of teaching by the law school as recipient of the inaugural Galen Scholar in Legal Writing award. She has taught a new course every year and is described by the law school as excelling in each one. A common thread through all of her teaching is to provide productive opportunities for students. Students say the emphasis is on skills that practicing attorneys and scholars of law must have. They say they leave her classes prepared to succeed. One student, for example, commented, “"Professor Frost was undoubtedly one of the best professors I had in my three years at UO. She always made herself available outside of class, not only to discuss coursework but to help students with any issue. She clearly is very interested in the wellbeing and success of students, in and out of the classroom." Another praised her by writing, “Professor Frost has continued to be one of my favorite professors this year. She has been very open and willing to meet me outside of class and I found that extremely helpful. I was pushed to think for myself and in terms of what makes sense and not what the teacher wanted. I found the class periods engaging and beneficial to my learning. It was a real pleasure to be in the class environment Professor Frost created.”

In recognition of her achievement and expertise in the area of legal research and writing, Elizabeth Ruiz Frost is a recipient of a 2016 Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy.

Jon Runyeon - Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy

Jon RunyeonJon Runyeon is recognized for his significant contributions to undergraduate education through his teaching in the Department of Human Physiology. In only his fourth year as a career instructor the students already know him as a “rock star of anatomy education.” Runyeon engages his classes of 300 students through a rigorous study of human anatomy while making the big class feel small. He accomplishes this through the use of evidence-based active-learning class activities guided by the teaching team he mentors. As his peers attest, he is on the “pedagogical cutting edge.” Runyeon utilizes numerous approaches consistent with best teaching practices to help students uncover the wonders of the human body.

In addition to his large-class instruction in Human Anatomy I and II, Runyeon teaches an extremely popular small capstone course called Neurophysiology of Concussion. He also oversees the cadaver dissection program in which up to 80 UO students have the rare and magical opportunity to learn from the dissection of donor cadavers. Alumni regularly report back from their medical-school programs that they are way ahead of their peers and performing extraordinarily well in their coursework, thanks to the preparation they received in human anatomy. Runyeon’s student evaluations are filled with such words as “amazing, awesome, best ever, passionate, exceptional, respectful, and caring.”

Jon also serves as one of the department’s main undergraduate advisors, helping to shepherd the Human Physiology Department’s 1100 students through their course of study. He is incredibly supportive of students and writes an astronomical number of letters of recommendation for students applying to various health-profession graduate programs. He is tireless in his dedication to student growth and is a true mentor and guide to his students. An example of his ability to generate enthusiasm among his students is this comment, "Jon is great at getting the class not only involved in anatomy, but I always left class excited about what we had learned. He is always upbeat, excited, engaging, and ready to help any student. It's inspiring to have a professor that is just at excited about what they are teaching as excited as the students are about learning it." Another student asserted, "Jon is the best lecturer I have ever had! I thought I would enjoy anatomy before I took the course, but I LOVE anatomy now. Lecture was so much fun, and his humor made me want to keep listening and focusing.”

In recognition of his achievement and expertise in the area of human anatomy, Jon Runyeon is a recipient of a 2016 Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy.   

Leslie Steeves - Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy

Leslie Steeves and Mike Schill in classroomIn her career as professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Journalism and Communication, Leslie Steeves has demonstrated a consistent pedagogical leadership in the school, university, and local and international communities.

Steeves’s most significant contribution is her innovative and dedicated work for the past 14 years to establish and lead “Media in Ghana,” a faculty-led summer immersive internship program for School of Journalism and Communication majors that matches students with media internships in Accra, Ghana. The program includes a required weekly class during the spring term, an optional introduction to Twi – the local language, several days of onsite orientation about culture and media, and five weeks of fulltime internship/practicum placements in the city of Accra, Ghana. This program represents an amazing opportunity for a rigorous and inspiring professionalization in an intercultural context.

Students and colleagues praise Steeves for being the creator and pillar of this program that truly impacts the lives of all the people involved, both at the University of Oregon and abroad at the University of Ghana, through the many media locations where the University of Oregon students serve as interns. Her pedagogical contributions, based on what she calls a “labor of love,” have been personal, transformative, and life changing for students and faculty; highly influential on the School of Journalism and Communication and University of Oregon curricula and research; and substantive nationally and internationally through her publications.

As one of the former students in the “Media in Ghana” program states, Steeves is “a shining example of how lives can change when you educate students by inspiring them to accomplish things they never could have dreamed possible.”

In recognition of her achievement and expertise in the teaching of media and globalization, Leslie Steeves is a recipient of a 2016 Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy.

Doug Wilson - Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy

Doug Wilson looking at myrtlewood appleSenior Instructor of Marketing Doug Wilson is central to the educational mission of the Lundquist College of Business. His colleagues attest to his passion for teaching, his gift with working with students, and his dedication to improving the educational environment for students. He teaches a broad range of courses, from 250+ student introductory classes, to smaller MBA classes. The two capstone courses (one undergraduate, one MBA) he teaches require a wide breadth of knowledge and experience. 

All of Wilson’s courses are academically rigorous and demanding. He is diligent in pushing students to think critically and creatively, to judiciously evaluate alternatives, and then to be able to back up their reasoning. Drawing on his own experience in consulting he is able to offer relevant, real-world lessons. 

Wilson’s students appreciate his passion and enthusiasm and his teaching evaluations are consistently high. One student wrote “It is obvious that he loves teaching this material, it comes through in everything he does. I wish I had more opportunities to learn from him.” As a testament to his impact on his students, many continue to seek Wilson’s advice and expertise, sometimes for years after they graduate.

Wilson is the inspirational leader of a team of four instructors who teach BA 101, Introduction to Business. He has been instrumental in developing and growing the course, which now reaches about 2,500 students every year. As many as 25% of Oregon undergraduates will take this course. Somehow Wilson still has time to offer advice and discuss classroom dilemmas and issues, to offer ideas on a path forward, and to share best teaching practices.

In recognition of his achievements and expertise in the teaching of business, Doug Wilson is a recipient of a 2016 Thomas F. Herman Award for Excellence in Pedagogy.