Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 24, 2005 - University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken today announced the 2005 winners of the university’s most prestigious awards for teaching and research. Two faculty will receive honors for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity; two are honored for Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity, and one academic department receives a Departmental Teaching Award for outstanding dedication to the education of students.
The awards and this year’s winners are:
Outstanding Research and Creative Activity (ORCA): Anthony F. Starace, George Holmes Professor of Physics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Parks M. Coble, professor of history at UNL
Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA): Kenya S. Taylor, professor and chair of communication disorders at the University of Nebraska at Kearney; C. William McLaughlin, senior lecturer in chemistry at UNL
University-wide Departmental Teaching Award: School of Social Work, University of Nebraska at Omaha
The ORCA recognizes individual faculty members for research and creative activity of international or national significance. The OTICA recognizes individual faculty members for sustained records of excellence in teaching. Each individual award is accompanied by a $3,500 award. The UDTA recognizes a department within the university that has made a unique and significant contribution to teaching, and carries with it a $25,000 award to the department. Award recipients, who will be honored publicly at an April 12 convocation, are selected by a committee of outstanding peers. The ORCA originated in 1978, the OTICA in 1992 and the UDTA in 1993.
"The foundation of any university is the faculty," Milliken said. "We are fortunate to have within our ranks individuals who exemplify excellence in teaching our students, who conduct pioneering research that is recognized nationally and internationally, and who are engaged in meaningful outreach with Nebraskans. These faculty are among the best in their fields, and they are making a difference for their students and their state."
Currently director of the UNL physics department’s program of excellence in Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Plasma Physics, Starace has earned significant attention for his career research in uncovering the mechanisms for energy transfers from electromagnetic radiation to matter.
Professor Starace, who holds an endowed professorship in physics, has received total external funding of more than $3.5 million, mostly in individual investigator grants, and has been continuously funded for nearly 25 years by both the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, which is rare in theoretical physics.
During a career that has spanned 28 years at the university, Coble has established himself as a pathbreaking scholar of East Asian history. He is an authority in the deeply nuanced and tempestuous relationship between China and Japan, and in particular, from the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 through the end of World War II in 1945. He’s the author of several books, including "The Shanghai Capitalists and the Nationalist Government, 1927-1937," (Harvard University Press, 1980).
Taylor is an expert in audiology and speech/language pathology who researches hearing loss and audiologic rehabilitation programs. Her award for teaching is based on dedication to preparing her students for their professional roles, providing mentorship and leadership, and being "proactive and innovative in meeting the needs of her students both in the classroom and in providing the technology and educational equipment necessary," according to her nominator. The first-time pass rate for accreditation of her students following graduation is 92 percent - well above the 79.8 percent national first-time pass rate.
Known as "Dr. Mac" to many of his students, McLaughlin is coordinator of general chemistry at UNL, supervising the instruction of more than 1,000 chemistry students each semester. A former award-winning high school chemistry teacher and science coordinator in St. Joseph, Mo., McLaughlin began teaching full-time at UNL in 1997. Former students cite the professor’s teaching style and ability to use all modalities of learning as a factor in their success.
Directed by Theresa Barron-McKeagney, the UNO School of Social Work is well known for its teaching, outreach, and service, and is also highly student-focused. With its student volunteer, service learning and practicum training programs, the school contributes more than 5,000 hours of service to the community each year. Projects under way in the school include the Family Mentoring Program of outreach to south Omaha’s Latino community, and the Aguante Project, a family-based, community-centered mentoring program for at-risk Latino youth. The school provides the only master of social work program within a 250-mile radius of Omaha, and now offers an off-campus MSW program at UNK.