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University of Iowa News Release

March 23, 2006

Photo (from left): Er-Wei Bai, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering; Karen Heimer, associate professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Leslie Marshall, an associate professor in the College of Nursing.

Three UI Faculty Win Top Teaching Award

Three University of Iowa faculty members have been awarded the 2006 President and Provost Award For Teaching Excellence in recognition of their years of outstanding teaching. The recipients are: Er-Wei Bai, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering; Karen Heimer, associate professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Leslie Marshall, an associate professor in the College of Nursing.

The award, which is administered by the Council on Teaching, was created in 2004 as a university-wide recognition for faculty members who have demonstrated a sustained high level of teaching excellence. The Council on Teaching selected the three winners from a pool of nominees submitted by colleges across the university. Nominees submit a statement of their teaching philosophy along with a CV highlighting teaching activities and letters of endorsement from current and former students and colleagues. The award recipients will be honored at the Faculty Staff Awards Banquet in the fall and will also receive a prize of $3,000.

Bai has taught in the College of Engineering since 1987. A highly respected and productive scholar who has published 43 journal articles and received five major grants during the last five years, Bai also consistently receives very high student evaluation scores and is recognized by his peers for his commitment to excellence in the classroom. Over the last three years, Bai single-handedly designed and implemented all new labs for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering's sequence of "control courses" -- control systems, control theory and computer-based control -- with the result that they are now some of the most popular courses in the department. He actively involves undergraduate students in his research program, and encourages undergraduate students to take leadership roles on his team. He has chaired the College Teaching Committee and Departmental Laboratory Committee, and contributed to the College's undergraduate and graduate curriculum committees at the departmental level. Students praise his ability to relate mathematical concepts to real-world examples; his "constant upbeat enthusiasm, friendly nature and easy accessibility"; his commitment to mentoring; and his "passion for educating," which many have found "contagious."

Heimer has taught in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 1991. In 1997 she won a Collegiate Teaching Award, and in 2000-01 the Dean's Scholar Award for contributions to teaching and research. She has developed and taught a range of courses, from large undergraduate lectures to graduate seminars, as well as Saturday and evening courses, a pioneering online course and a popular and proven teaching seminar that prepares graduate students to excel as instructors. She has been an undergraduate advisor, honors program director and Director of Graduate Studies within the Department of Sociology, in addition to serving on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Educational Policy Committee, General Education Curriculum Committee, Collegiate Teaching Award Committee and Classroom Advisory Committee. Colleagues and students alike admire Heimer's ability to bring "energy and enthusiasm to the classroom," her meticulous preparation and effective teaching methods, and especially her commitment to mentoring the next generation of teachers and scholars. Says one current student: "I will consider both myself and my students to be very lucky if I am able to become even half of the teacher that she is."

Marshall has taught in the College of Nursing since 1978. She received a Collegiate Teaching Award in 1995, the College of Nursing undergraduate students "most influential teacher" award in 2002, and the International Programs Outstanding International Educator award in 2003. After earning a Ph.D. in physiology and psychology and establishing her academic career over a period of several years, Marshall returned to school to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing -- which she earned in 1990 -- so that she would better understand how to organize the content of her physiology and pathology courses to meet the demands of nursing practice. Her commitment to empowering learners extends beyond the UI campus; she has taught college students in Papua New Guinea, for example, as well as hospital staff in Micronesia. Students and faculty alike recognize her courses as among the most challenging but well taught courses in the College curriculum. She is known as a caring, supportive instructor and generous mentor who challenges students -- and her fellow teachers -- to reach beyond what they perceived their capabilities to be. In the words of one faculty colleague, Dr. Marshall "is a model of teaching excellence for her colleagues and an inspiration for lifelong learning for her students."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu; Writer: Kris Yows.