Four University of Iowa faculty members have won the 2016 President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of their years of outstanding teaching. The recipients are: Anton Kruger, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering; Dan Matheson, lecturer and Sport and Recreation degree program director in the Department of Health and Human Physiology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS); Daniel Weeks, professor of biochemistry in the Carver College of Medicine (CCOM); and Rachel Williams, associate professor of art and art history and departmental executive officer for the Department of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies in CLAS.
The award, which is administered by the UI 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.
Kruger teaches at all levels, from core engineering courses to popular technical electives for advanced students. He is also an active sponsor for multiple senior design projects, hires undergraduates to participate in his research, mentors underrepresented students, and advises the UI student chapter of IEEE, the preeminent professional society for electrical and computer engineers. He has developed several new courses to meet the needs of students and employers. Chair of the Undergraduate Laboratory Committee since 2008, he has helped modernize the ECE teaching laboratories. In all of these activities, his focus is on inspiring students to maximize their learning, discover new interests, and challenge themselves to make a significant impact in the world. He has been selected by the electrical and computer engineering graduating class for its Excellence in Teaching Award six years in a row, and he received the Collegiate Teaching Award in 2010.
Matheson’s focus on active learning and relationship-building, both in and out of the classroom, has helped the Sport and Recreation Management program vault from a small degree program started in 2014 to one that enrolls hundreds of students each year. An innovator in the area of sport and recreation management curricula, he has developed and taught several popular new courses. His teaching also reaches beyond the traditional classroom; he leads students on field trips and practicum experiences with some of the sports industry’s top organizations. These experiences have led to multiple internship opportunities and job offers for his students. He mentors students from all over campus who have an interest in sport industry careers. The Office of the Provost recognized him in 2013 and 2014 as among the top 20 faculty and staff on campus cited by graduating seniors as having had a positive influence on them at Iowa.
Weeks trains the next generation of scientists and physicians not only to develop the understanding they need of biochemistry and developmental biology, but also to cultivate the inquisitive perspective they will need to wrestle with as-yet unanswered questions. His teaching has influenced thousands of undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. As director of graduate studies since 2001, he mentors about 30 graduate students each year; he has also served on the graduate thesis committees of 86 students from nine different departments and programs. He has played a major role in the design and development of undergraduate and graduate courses and, most recently, has been a leader in the implementation of the new CCOM medical school curriculum, for which he co-directs the new Keystone course that links pre-clinical and clinical instruction. Weeks received the Carver College of Medicine Collegiate Teaching Award in 2013 and the Graduate College Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award in 2015–16.
Williams is a socially engaged teacher, artist, and scholar who uses art instruction as a means for connecting the academic world with people who may have few opportunities to experience art and the benefits of creativity. An example of her innovations in this area is the Women’s Collective, a curriculum for women in prison that now serves almost 100 women each fall through a 10-week program, with each class facilitated by university students. The program is a powerful learning opportunity for the women who are incarcerated and for the students, who invariably report it as one of the most powerful experiences of their academic careers. Williams’ interdisciplinary research, in combination with her outreach efforts, recently lead her to spearhead the creation of a new major in social justice. In 2012, she received the Michael J. Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service.