UH faculty honored for excellence in undergraduate teaching

University of Hawaiʻi
Arlene Abiang, (808) 956-5637
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Jun 29, 2007

HONOLULU — The University of Hawaiʻi has selected six faculty members from campuses across the university system as the recipients of the 2007 Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In memory of the late Frances Davis who taught mathematics at Leeward CC and UH Mānoa for 19 years, the award recognizes UH faculty members who demonstrate outstanding dedication and excellence as teachers of undergraduate students.

Susan Dixon is a doctoral candidate in Geography at UH Mānoa. Dixon has the ability to teach in a non-offensive yet thought provoking manner when talking to her students about ambiguous contemporary issues such as war; national security; foreign policy; society and environment; and nonviolence/peace/human rights. She educates without forcing her point of view on students, which helps them discover and form their own opinions. A student described her experience in Dixon‘s class as, "It was during this time that my major and ideals profoundly changed due to Susan‘s passion, enthusiasm and zest for life."

Davin Kubota is an instructor of Language, Linguistics and Literature at Kapiʻolani Community College. Kuboto is acknowledged for his dedication to the development of his students as a whole human being, both in and out of the classroom. He consistently makes time to meet with students outside normal office hours to provide them with the additional support. Kubota is also admired by colleagues who took note of his ability to teach the basics of English writing in way that students find enjoyable.

Donna Matsumoto is an assistant professor of English at Leeward Community College. Matsumoto teaches each student according to their specific needs and has been successful at making writing relevant to their lives. She co-founded the Mid-Semester Classroom Assessment Program and the Teaching Squares Program that provide students and colleagues in other disciplines useful feedback in order to increase their performance levels. In 2005, her writing expository course was recognized as one of six WebCT Exemplary Course Project awards given to higher education institutions across the nation. A colleague wrote, "Students learn more than how to write in Donna‘s classes; they learn how to take responsibility for their own actions."

Jason Turner is an assistant professor of marine science at UH Hilo. He challenges his students to attain high levels of knowledge and strives to present information in interesting and memorable ways. Turner‘s lessons on topics like marine mammal biology and connectivity of aquatic food webs can be confusing to students, but they note that he doesn‘t cause anxiety over complex material. Students appreciate his approachability and his "high, but not unreasonable standards."

Yida Wang is an assistant professor of art and art history at UH Mānoa. The primary goal of Wang‘s scholarly interaction with students is to create a culture of excellence through extensive group interaction, which stimulates individual critical thinking, artistic self-awareness and creativity. With a rich background in traditional western and Chinese drawing techniques, Wang has taught at all levels within the Drawing and Painting Program. She developed an omnibus curriculum that integrates Eastern and Western classical and academic disciplines along with contemporary approaches in order to accommodate the diversity of students‘ needs and interests. Her colleague described her as "a trekker across the universe of art, and a woman with a mission."

Patrick Woo is an instructor of Japanese in UH Mānoa‘s Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. As a multi-lingual person and a non-native speaker of Japanese, Woo understands the difficulties of learning a foreign language and often becomes a role model that students look up to. He encourages his students to appreciate the uniqueness of other cultures by cultivating tolerance of and sensitivity to peoples with different values and perspectives. His latest project focuses on developing authentic instructional materials using drama, films, news, documentaries, TV interviews and commercials. Woo served twice as Resident Director for the Study Abroad Program at Konan University in Kobe, Japan.

The recipients will be recognized along with other award winners at a systemwide awards ceremony in September.