Twelve UH faculty receive Regents' Medal for Excellence in Teaching

University of Hawaiʻi
Lowell Angell, (808) 956-4890
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Aug 26, 2008

HONOLULU — Twelve University of Hawai‘i faculty members have been selected as recipients of the Regents‘ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. This award recognizes faculty who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values beneficial to students.

Sean Calder is an assistant professor of biology at Maui Community College. Calder possesses excellence in connecting textbook facts with practical, everyday examples and applications, and he instructs his students in ways they can grasp complicated concepts in microbiology with ease. He genuinely cares about the progress of each of his students, depicted through his accommodating personality and willingness to give students extra help. Encouraging and passionate about his field, Calder is viewed by many as an inspiration.

Monique Chyba, an associate professor of mathematics at UH Mānoa, believes that mathematics, like all sciences, is best absorbed through practice. In teaching Math 100, no one has ever received such positive teacher evaluations as Chyba. A colleague observed, "To see so many students overcome the aversion to mathematics and develop a positive attitude is absolutely impressive." Chyba has developed interdisciplinary research between the math department and other departments on campus, and she strongly believes that multidisciplinary skills are the future of science.

Kamil Ud Deen is an associate professor of linguistics at UH Mānoa. Deen is a gifted classroom teacher who is at the cutting edge of research in first language acquisition, which he communicates effectively to both graduate and undergraduate students. His students are told that nothing he says is beyond reproach, and it is their right and duty to challenge him. Thisprinciple of teaching has paid tangible dividends in the form of a substantial increase in the number of his graduate students presenting papers at prestigious national and international conferences. A colleague observed, "He is, in short, the consummate ʻall-rounder.‘"

Karen Fujishima-Lee was a professor of mathematics at Leeward Community College. She was a dedicated teacher who inspired, motivated and enriched the lives of thousands of students. Fujishima-Lee was also a staff member of the Hawaii National Great Teachers Seminar and ran workshops for students. The sudden loss of Fujishima-Lee in February was grieved by many, but her work will endure through her students‘ success. A student commented, "She helped build confidence and self-esteem in me by her encouragement and positive attitude. I will always remember that she made a difference in my life and my future."

Malia Lau Kong is an instructor in history at Windward Community College. A UH Mānoa graduate, she has taught at Windward since 2006. She believes all students can learn and succeed and that "it is my job as a teacher to inspire them to want to learn and to help them succeed not only in my class, but in life in general." Lau Kong creates a learner-centered environment in which her students are responsible for their learning and success, and she attempts to make history "come alive," relating it to the present and showing historical connections to modern day living.

Frank Leake is a professor of culinary arts at Kapiʻolani Community College. His philosophy as a teacher, mentor and coach is focused upon the needs of his students, placing priority on identifying and providing an effective foundation and support network to accommodate their needs. Leake engages his students to take responsibility and to take charge of their destiny. He is recognized by colleagues for embracing innovative teaching and learning strategies, and particularly for his success in incorporating technology into his culinary courses.

Cherie Mooy is an instructor of nursing at Kauaʻi Community College. She uses outside resources including current events, professional journals and pertinent research studies to supplement course topics, expand student awareness of the issues and increase the value of evidence-based practice. Mooy creates a sense of community in the classroom, respects her students, encourages them, shares her thoughts, and has fun. A colleague confirms that she "demonstrates her genuine love for nursing, and shows genuine affection and caring for her students. She is patient, professional and allows her students to explore nursing in a safe, caring environment."

John Norris, an associate professor of second language studies at UH Mānoa, is a distinguished researcher as well as a pro-active scholar in the field of applied linguistics. Norris works exclusively with graduate students and his classes are always provocative, challenging, stimulating, and engaging. In taking responsibility for their own work, Norris believes that students transition from receptive modes of learning to ethical and pro-active efforts at learning to do. As one student wrote, "Dr. Norris‘ encouragement pushed me to achieve things I never thought possible: to be an independent evaluation consultant for professional and educational organizations."

Mark Panek, an assistant professor of English at UH Hilo, is regarded by many around him as a great asset to the University. In his teaching, he strives to have his students take ownership of the learning process. Panek actively encourages his students to publish their writing so that they can achieve the satisfaction of seeing their work in print. "Our students‘ writing skills have been greatly enhanced by his efforts," noted one colleague.

Jill Ramsfield is a professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa and the director of the legal writing program. She merged the writing and research curricula into a seamless curriculum to serve as a platform for teaching not only writing and research, but other essential lawyering skills as well. Perhaps the most important modification she made was to bring together the two skills of legal research and legal writing into the same class, which created an entirely new learning environment at the law school. Ramsfield takes responsibility for the success of all her students and is constantly rethinking and revising her approach to meet different student needs.

Kerry Laiana Wong is an assistant professor in the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language at UH Mānoa. Having completed the first doctoral dissertation in the Hawaiian language, Wong stands alone in his field. His teaching philosophy is based on advancing the wellbeing of the Hawaiian people through the revitalization of the Hawaiian language. Wong‘s contributions to the development of a Hawaiian immersion curriculum have been considerable, particularly in the development of teaching materials. Colleagues note that as a Hawaiian educator, he is a needed role model who sets a fine example for others.

Sheila Yoder, an associate professor of mathematics at Honolulu Community College, has been a UH faculty member for more than 30 years. She makes a discipline that is very challenging for most students "fun and interesting." In addition to bringing in models to help visualize complex mathematical concepts, she provides the "big picture" on the relationship of mathematics to daily life. Her students praise her tremendous patience and skill in simplifying often hard to understand topics. Students also praise her as "thoughtful and sensitive" on personal matters and appreciate the interest she takes in each of them as individuals.

These individuals will be recognized for their achievements along with other UH award recipients at the annual Convocation ceremony to be held September 9, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. at Kennedy Theatre on the UH Mānoa campus. The ceremony is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are needed.