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Greetings, It is a pleasure and an honor to announce the winners of the 2007 Teaching Excellence Awards. Our most important responsibility to our students at the University of South Alabama is the quality of the education we provide them; therefore, the highest congratulations are due this year’s winners. On behalf of the University family, I want to express our deep appreciation to each of this year’s honorees for making a meaningful difference in the lives of their students. These winners of the 2007 Teaching Excellence Awards are the latest exemplifications of the strong tradition of teaching excellence at the University of South Alabama. They will serve as an inspiration not only to our students but also to current and future faculty. Sincerely,

Pat Covey Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Contents • Introduction and Award History............................................................................. p. 4 • Dr. Barry Dale (College of Allied Health Professions).......................................... p. 5 • Mr. James Connors (College of Arts & Sciences)................................................... p. 6 • Dr. Nicole Carr (College of Arts & Sciences)......................................................... p. 7 • Mr. Lyle Miller (College of Arts & Sciences)......................................................... p. 8 • Dr. Kevin Meeker (College of Arts & Sciences)..................................................... p. 9 • Dr. Peter Wood (College of Arts & Sciences).......................................................... p. 10 • Frank Urbancic (Mitchell College of Business).......................................................p. 11 • Mr. Michael Black (School of Computer and Information Sciences)...................... p. 12 • Dr. Robert Heitman (College of Education).............................................................p. 13 • Mary Ann Robinson (College of Education)............................................................p. 14 • Ms. Judith Azok (College of Nursing).................................................................... p. 15 • Ms. Aaron Gilligan (College of Nursing)................................................................ p. 16

USA Teaching Excellence Awards As part of The University of South Alabama’s long-standing commitment to the recognition of teaching excellence, the Division of Academic Affairs implemented a Teaching Excellence Awards program in 2005 to acknowledge faculty members who provide exemplary teaching and demonstrate extraordinary commitment and effort in the accomplishment of the educational mission of the University. All members of the faculty, regardless of rank and tenure status, are eligible for consideration for the award. Selection procedures are determined at the college/school level, but input from students and a faculty peerreview committee are included in all cases. Criteria for the awards include: • Excellence in student learning outcomes • Quality of teaching • Quantity of teaching • Innovation in teaching approaches • Contributions to curriculum development • Educational scholarship • Extraordinary commitment and effort in the accomplishment of the program teaching mission In addition to this awards program sponsored by Academic Affairs, the USA National Alumni Association recognizes teaching excellence through its annual Andy and Carol Denny National Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award. In another effort to encourage teaching excellence at USA, the Division of Academic Affairs supports the Program for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (PETAL). The program offers a variety of instructional events aimed at improving teaching, as well as individual assistance to faculty. PETAL sponsors the following activities throughout the academic year: • • • • • • •

Faculty development seminars promote the employment of sound instructional and learning principles across disciplines. Seminars, roundtables, and brown bag lunches provide an open forum for discussion of challenging educational issues as well as sharing of teaching expertise. The New Faculty Orientation Program provides first-year faculty with the basic principles of solid teaching. Computer workshops and multimedia resources facilitate integration of modern technology into the curriculum. Newsletters publicize the best teaching practices on campus. Custom designed evaluation and consultation services provide individualized assistance to faculty seeking to improve their teaching. The PETAL web site ( provides University faculty and administrators access to online teaching resources and reviews of new and effective teaching practices.


Name: R. Barry Dale, assistant professor Department: College of Nursing Year Joined: 1995 Educational Background: Dr. Dale received his bachelor’s in physical therapy from the University of South Alabama in 1994. He earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1997 and a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2002. Academic Pursuits: Dr. Dale pursues research related to physical therapy and sports medicine. Two of his recent research projects include shoulder fatigue in baseball players and a meta-analysis of clinical exam procedures for the shoulder. He has published 46 works including peer-reviewed abstracts, referred manuscripts, editorials, and text-book chapters and has given numerous presentations to scholarly groups. Teaching Philosophy: “Information is vital to life and seeking information is a lifelong process. Learning how to gather facts and incorporate them into the decision-making process is imperative for a successful career and enjoyable life. As an educator, getting our students to think independently and to proactively seek information is both challenging and rewarding. It is important for students to understand that their education is not a competition between them and their instructors. Since students cannot become a physical therapist if they do not pass the licensure examination, it is important for students to realize that it is our professional duty to prepare them for this ultimate test. Attitudes change once students realize that we are “helping” them prepare for licensure. Feedback and encouragement from the instructor is an integral part of a student’s education. Our pupils respond to challenges and my goal is to teach with real-world applications whenever possible. As a practicing clinician, I incorporate clinical scenarios into my teaching and try to model a positive work ethic. Finally, I am a firm believer and perhaps an example that one does not have to be intellectually gifted to be a productive citizen. Although ability is a necessary prerequisite, success is also achieved with determination. My hope is that students realize their potential through their natural abilities and by employing a healthy work ethic.” What I learned from my students: “Students excel and sometimes fail based on how they approach challenges. By observing our students, I receive affirmation of the rewards from diligence and persistence. I also become acutely aware of just how little we actually know and understand and that there will always be questions to answer. Our students are an inspiration to continue a quest for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.” Favorite quote on teaching: “If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit - you’ll be a winner. the price of victory is high but so are the rewards.” -- Paul “Bear” Bryant 

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES

Name: James J. Connors, Jr., instructor Department: Earth Sciences Year joined USA: 2005 Educational Background: Mr. Connors received his bachelor of science in geology from the University of South Alabama in 1982, his master of science in geology at the University of Alabama in 1990, and is currently pursuing his doctorate in marine science at the University of South Alabama. Academic Pursuits: Submarine groundwater discharge, surface water and groundwater interactions, groundwater supply issues, stormwater contamination of groundwater aquifers, low-impact development/smart growth. Courses: Earth Materials, Earth History, Geophysics, and Hydrology. Teaching philosophy: “When I deal with geology majors, I always keep in mind that we are not just in the business of educating technicians; we’re creating tomorrow’s geological professionals. Therefore, I try to relay theory in the context of it’s practical application. After 22 years as a practicing geologist, I have come to see geology as a way to understand and even solve many of the environmental and natural resource problems that face humanity today. This is something I strive to impart on my students. “ I also try to impress upon my general education students that geology ties into almost everything else they know and learn about. It drives our culture, economy, history, and even our biology. Will Durant once wrote: ‘Civilization exists with geological consent, subject to change without notice.’ An even broader interpretation of the importance of geology is at the core of everything I teach. “It’s not lost on me that our students pay a lot of money to attend USA. Consequently, I work very hard to give them their monies worth every day. I give them Power Point slides, and utilize computer models and physical demonstrations where appropriate. I’d rather have them listening to me than feverishly writing notes. I try to entertain them a bit, as well.” What I learned from my students: Patience. Favorite quote on education: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Name: Nicole T. Carr, assistant professor Department: Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Year joined USA: 1998 Educational background: Dr. Carr received her bachelor of arts degree with a double major in government and philosophy in 1991 and her master’s of arts in sociology in 1993 from the College of William and Mary, and her doctorate in sociology in 1998 from Louisiana State University. Academic pursuits: “Most recently, I am enjoying the opportunity to combine my teaching and research interests in inequality, gender, and crime as I continue to study the life histories of incarcerated women. Together with my colleague Dr. Roma Hanks, I have spent the past six years doing research in the justice system, and the past two years involved collecting life histories from women in our local jail. Our findings inform research in the areas of criminology, gender, and aging. Courses: Introduction to Sociology, Criminology, Applied Sociology, Social Stratification, and Gender and Sociology. Teaching philosophy: “I regularly challenge myself to expand my skills as an instructor and to develop new ways to engage students in developing this approach to learning in general and in our joint activity of exploring sociology. Critical thinking and an appreciation for discovery underscore all of the courses I teach. Active research is important for developing both. By bringing my research into the classroom and by developing ways to engage students in research beyond the classroom, I ensure that we all actively participate in the process of generating, assessing and sharing knowledge. Through active involvement in research, students learn critical thinking skills and the importance of effective communication. As we gather evidence and build our understanding of current conditions and new possibilities, we increase our appreciation of the complexity of the world around us as well as the simplicity of human individuals. Understanding the commonalities among people and the differences across systems requires critical thinking and yields tolerance. Sharing knowledge should be done throughout our lives and intentionally in concert with those around us.” What I learned from my students “Patience. I also learned the extent of ignorance and the great potential for excellence. Even though sociologists study life in groups, I am often reminded of the power of collaborative learning and potential of shared experiences for bringing all students into the group.” Favorite quote on learning: “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” — Gloria Steinem 

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Name: Lyle B. Miller, professor Department: Dramatic Arts Year joined USA: 1985 Educational background: Mr. Miller earned a bachelor of fine art degree in design and technical theatre from the University of Oklahoma in 1974 and a master of fine art in scenic and lighting design from the University of Oklahoma in 1984. Academic pursuits: “My passion is helping push the design envelop by keeping abreast of new developments in scenic and lighting design, including new technologies that expand the available tools for designers. I am exploring how we can utilize video and web design in the development of portfolios for our actors, technicians and designers. I am also pursuing how we can best develop and adapt our teaching with online tools and programs.” Courses: Introduction to Drama, Stagecraft, Fundamentals of Stage Lighting, Computer Graphics for the Stage, Scene Design, Lighting Design, Special Topic Courses in State Properties, Scenic Painting, and Automated Stage Lighting. Teaching philosophy: “Learning is as much about failure as it is about success. In the performing arts, one never achieves true growth if one does not accept the risk of failure and pushes oneself. By accepting the possibility of failure and taking ourselves out of our comfort zones to experiment, we not only grow as individuals and as artists, but also push our art, our society, and the world forward. “In teaching theatre design, we must do two things: first we must inspire our students to think creatively and practically about their designs; second we must create a positive learning environment where students feel free to experiment creatively, to take substantial risks, to push themselves, and, at times, to fail. By understanding why the failure happened, we can become better designers. Creating this type of environment requires us, as professors, to believe in our students and their abilities. We must require from them their very best work, which sometimes includes pushing them to do more than they believe they can do. We must encourage them to try, and keep on trying, until our students achieve their individual best.” What I learned from my students: “My students have taught me that there is no end to their creativity. Given the opportunity, students will surprise us with innovative dreams and designs for the future.” Favorite quote on learning: “You will never know until you try. — Unknown

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Name: Kevin Meeker, associate professor Department: Philosophy Year joined USA: 1999 Educational background: Dr. Meeker earned a bachelor degree in philosophy in 1991 from Wheaton College and a master’s in philosophy in 1994 and a doctorate in philosophy in 1998 from the University of Notre Dame. Academic pursuits: Dr. Meeker is currently writing a book on the Scottish philosopher David Hume. In the past few years, he has published articles on topics in Philosophy of Religion, Epistemology, and Early Modern Philosophy. Courses: Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Ethics, Renaissance and Enlightenment, Philosophy of Religion, Epistemology (Theory of Knowledge), Environmental Ethics, Natural Law, Problem of Evil, Recent Religious Epistemology, Religious Diversity, and Skepticism in Film and Literature. Teaching philosophy: “I often tell my students, somewhat facetiously, that my job is to make myself irrelevant. That is, I try to teach them how to critically evaluate different arguments and assumptions in every kind of context. If they can learn to think for themselves, then, in a sense, they no longer need me. One of the most effective ways to teach them critical thinking is to have them participate in discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments and issues that we explore.” What I have learned from my students: “My students have taught me that if I cannot adequately explain an idea, then I do not fully understand it myself.” Favorite quote on teaching: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Name: Peter Wood, assistant professor Department: Music Year joined USA: 2005 Educational background: Dr. Wood earned a bachelor of science degree in music education from the University of Illinois in 1989; a master degree of music in trumpet performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991 and a doctor degree of music in trumpet performance and literature from Indiana University in 2000. Academic pursuits: I am interested in all types of musical performance on the trumpet. I play in the Mobile Symphony and the Gulf Coast Symphony and enjoy collaborating with composers in my continuous search for new solo and chamber music repertoire to perform. I have played many concerts all over the United States and will perform a new work for solo trumpet and electronics at the Korean National University of Arts in Seoul in September 2007. I will also do several regional premiers of new works in fall 2007. My compact disc recording, Commanding Statements: Chamber Music for Trumpet, was released on the MSR Classics record label in May 2007. Courses: Basic Music Theory and Ear Training, Applied Trumpet, Brass Ensemble, Introduction to Music, Brass Pedagogy, Brass Methods, and Brass Literature Teaching philosophy: A good teacher should be a role model to his or her students, able either to demonstrate competently the material taught or at least to work toward that end. He or she must demonstrate clearly what it means to be a lifelong learner, a hard worker, and a good citizen and human being. A good teacher should demand excellence from all students and should challenge them to achieve their individual greatest potential—often even greater than they themselves had previously expected. While students may or may not enjoy the hard work of striving for excellence, I believe that they later appreciate the beneficial results that follow. Students learn that hard work often does result in positive outcomes, and this realization enables students to accomplish much in life. What I learned from my students: I have come to realize that students learn in many different ways. In my constant search for a wider variety of teaching methods that might help each individual student achieve understanding, I have learned to break down challenging tasks into their smallest component parts. This has helped me in my own trumpet playing to be able to solve various weaknesses in my own skills. In teaching my students, I have learned much about myself. Favorite Quote on Teaching: “We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” - Ben Sweetland 10

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award MITCHELL COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

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Name: Frank UrbancicDepartment: Accounting Year joined USA: 1990 Educational background: Dr. Urbancic received a bachelor of business administration in accounting with honors from Cleveland State University and his doctorate in accounting from Kent State University. In 2004, he was honored with appointment by the USA Board of Trustees and the USA Foundation as the Ernest G. Cleverdon Professor of Business. Academic pursuits: “My research interests are varied and include both regulatory practice standards for accountants, as well as, financial reporting standards. In addition, I have recently completed studies in the readability of tax instructions, the publication productivity of faculty, comparative ranking of academic programs, and the editorial gatekeeper function in refereed research. I am also exploring applications of bibliometric research within the primary disciplines of business.”

Courses: Principles of Accounting I, Financial Accounting II, Financial Accounting Theory, and Advanced Managerial Accounting. Teaching philosophy: “I look beyond the present semester, out into the future for my students. And this greatly impacts the way in which I teach. For example, I periodically remind my students to focus on understanding in accounting rather than relying on memorization. I tell them that what you memorize you will soon forget, but what you understand will be remembered for a lifetime. Also, as I guide their transformation from accounting students into accountants, I strive to instill the development of traits that will serve them throughout their careers, such as the importance of being prepared, professional, responsible, and diligent.” What I have learned from my students: “I’ve learned how to laugh at myself. In the early years of my career as an academician, I tended to take things too seriously. Perhaps my seriousness was attributable to the accountant in me, with the ever attendant need for accuracy. But years spent in the classroom eventually taught me it is alright to make blunders and laugh at yourself, as well as, call attention to your own gaffes even when no one else in the classroom has spotted them. Turn the moment into a lesson for learning. And for this I am very grateful to my students.” “Learning is never done without errors and defeats.” - V.I. Lenin


2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award SCHOOL OF COMPUTER AND INFORMATION SCIENCES Name: Mr. Michael Black, instructor Department: School of Computer and Information Sciences Year joined USA: 2001 Educational background: Mr. Black earned a bachelor of science degree in computer and information sciences and a masters degree in information systems from the University of South Alabama. Academic pursuits: The design of secure networks and the forensic analysis of computer systems that have been attacked or breached. I am particularly interested in designing systems that are resistant to attacks and in obtaining a historical accounting and regeneration of the deleted data. Courses: Data Communications and Networking, Network Administration, Network Infrastructure Systems, Advanced Network Management, Network Security Management, and Computer Forensics Teaching philosophy: “Since some topics that I teach are very abstract, students sometimes have a difficult time understanding how these topics might be applied in organizations. My solution is to teach case studies of realworld situations, usually abstracted from my own industry experiences. Students are required to apply concepts from lectures to develop and defend possible solutions to the case study. As my colleagues have stated, bringing my “war stories” into the classroom not only helps the student understand the specific topic, but more importantly, helps reinforce their lifelong learning.” What I learned from my students: “Although we all have expertise in our teaching areas, personally I feel that I have learned more by teaching than I have by any other means. Having students “challenge” me reinforces my own knowledge and forces me to reevaluate my understanding almost on a daily basis.” Favorite quote on teaching: “He is wise who knows the sources of knowledge - who knows who has written and where it is to be found.” - A. A. Hodge


2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Name: Mary Ann Robinson Department: Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Studies Year joined USA: 1988-1995 Educational Resource Specialist and Instructor; rejoined in 1999 as Assistant Professor Educational background: Dr. Robinson earned her bachelor of science in Elementary Education from the University of South Alabama in 1983, her masters in Education from the University of South Alabama in 1987 and her doctorate in Instructional Design and Development from the University of South Alabama in 1997. Academic pursuits: “Dr. Robinson’s research addresses social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development through children’s and young adult literature, as well as impacting student achievement through school library media program services. Courses: Curriculum Media for Children, Curriculum Media for Young Adults, Library Media Programs, Microcomputing Systems in Education Teaching philosophy: “I believe there is a strong interrelationship between motivation and learning, and when properly motivated and exposed to a variety of instructional and learning strategies, most students can master most of the material most of the time. Effective teachers are skilled in stimulating learners’ curiosity to learn. They exhibit enthusiasm for their discipline, as well as for teaching and learning. Students must be given opportunities to ask questions, make observations, form and test hypotheses, and construct their own knowledge or meaning from the content. Learning is best facilitated when high expectations and objectives are clearly communicated, criteria for success are provided, students are actively engaged in meaningful learning activities, and accomplishments are recognized and rewarded. What I have learned from my students: “My attitudes, dispositions, and actions in the learning environment directly influence students’ views of the teaching profession, as well as their eagerness to learn new and exciting ways to shape the future of teaching and learning. Establishing relevancy in the learning process is critical. Students want to know why it is important to learn the material, and to be able to see the interconnectedness of ideas. Being positive, consistently approachable, open to new ideas, fun, innovative, and fair fosters a collaborative learning community in which students strive to advance to the next level of achievement.” Favorite quote on teaching: “: “…we have spent decades worrying about equal access to schools, the challenge of the future is being sure that we provide equal access to knowledge.” – John I. Goodlad 13

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF EDUCATION Name: Robert Heitman, professor Department: Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Studies Year joined USA: September, 1978 Educational background: Dr. Heitman earned his bachelor degree in 1970, his master in education degree in 1973 and his doctorate in education in 1981 from the University of Missouri -Columbia. Academic pursuits: Research involving motor learning in individuals with disabilities. My colleagues and I have conducted and published studies looking at best practice methods for teaching psychomotor skills to individuals with intellectual deficits. Courses: Motor Learning, Adapted Physical Education, Assessment in Physical Education, Research in Physical Activity, Concepts of Fitness. Teaching philosophy: “As a teacher, it is my philosophy that the best thing a mentor can do for the student is to create an environment that is conducive to learning. That is, one that motivates the student to want to learn. In order to inculcate knowledge, students must be given the opportunity to learn in a non-threatening environment that is most appropriate to their needs. I believe this positive environment must be engendered both in the classroom and outside the classroom. Students must observe an enthusiasm for learning and teaching not just in the classroom, but also in the research laboratory as well as in the community. This process of conceptual-experiential learning is more meaningful to students. It is thus creating an individual who is more motivated to become a life-long learner capable of problem solving and providing service to diverse communities. What I learned from my students: “The first step to being a good teacher is to show the students that you genuinely care about them. Get to know the students personally and this will help you guide their learning. Challenge the students on a level that is meaningful to them. Most students want to be successful and will rise to the challenge if they perceive that the instructor is treating them fairly and cares about their well being. Multiple ways of assessment can be useful in determining learning styles and enhancing students’ learning experience. Favorite quote on education: “You have education in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the one who’ll decide where to go.” - Dr. Seuss


2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING Name: Francis M. Donovan, Jr. Department: Mechanical Engineering Year joined USA: 1983 Educational background: Dr. Donovan earned a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from Mississippi State University in 1959, a master of science in mechanical engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1963, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Purdue University in 1966. Academic pursuits: Experimental measurement of the thermodynamic properties of carbon gas in equilibrium with graphite at high temperatures, the design, construction, testing, and surgical implantation of artificial hearts, the prediction and verification of energy losses associated with oscillatory flow of liquids, and the enhancement of cardiac thermal dilution analysis to include cardiac output, volumes, regurgitation, valve opening, ventricular power and efficiency. Courses: Statics, Dynamics, Mechanics of Materials, Vibrations, Automatic Controls, , Electric Circuits, Thermodynamics, Turbomachinery, Instrumentation, Digital Simulation in Design, Microprocessors for Mechanical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Engineering Statistics, Lubrication, Direct Energy Conversion, Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics, Combustion, Conduction Heat Transfer, Computational Fluid Mechanics, Convection Heat Transfer, Compressible Fluid Flow, Boundary Elements. Teaching philosophy: “Students are people, not just receptacles of facts, so my goal is to participate in a dialog with them where they develop the insight, skill, and confidence to become competent engineers. I first lead students to an understanding of the fundamental laws of nature that support engineering calculations and then assist the students to develop an understanding of the methods of mathematics required to apply these basic laws to the analysis of real systems, insisting that they do not merely memorize and apply equations without understanding the reasons behind them. “I teach students that there are three basic steps to solving engineering problems. The first step, problem definition, requires the identification of what it is known and what is necessary to know. The next step, problem solution, requires knowledge of the fundamental laws, but also an understanding that it is normal to make mistakes but that those mistakes must be recognized and corrected. In the final step, solution communication, I try to impress on the students that the answer is only part of the solution and that the method of solution and the results must be clearly communicated to the reader.” What I learned from my students: Patience Favorite quote: “Always seek the truth rather than evidence to support your position” — 15

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF NURSING Name: Judith Azok, clinical assistant professor Department: Adult Health Nursing Year joined USA: 1990 Educational background: Ms. Azok earned her bachelor of science and master of science degrees in nursing from Ohio State University. She later pursued post-graduate study as a gerontological nurse practitioner at the University of South Alabama. Academic pursuits: As coordinator of the Accelerated MSN nursing program, most recently implementing the initial portion of the Clinical Nurse Leader grant, Ms. Azok has been responsible for designing courses tailored to meet the needs of second-degree students in a fast-paced curriculum culminating in an advanced degree in nursing. As a practitioner, her research interest involves the obesity/diabetes epidemic so prevalent in the US and the southeast in particular. Her diabetes clinic provides an opportunity for students to experience prevention activities in a rural setting with positive outcomes. Courses: Graduate Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, and Health Assessment; Adult Health Nursing I and II; Nursing Decision Making and Delegation. Teaching philosophy: “I believe that teaching, like nursing, is both an art and a science, and that learning occurs most effectively in an active, dynamic environment. Over the years, students have repeatedly indicated that my passion for both teaching and nursing has not only stimulated their intellectual curiosity but also helped to further develop their desire to care for members of their communities. The Accelerated nursing students enter the program with varying academic degrees, as well as work and real-life experiences and as such, my teaching methods must focus on the unique background and learning needs of each student. Independent study and classroom activities must not only facilitate learning the evidence upon which to base their practice but, and possibly more importantly, learning to find that evidence in an ever-changing healthcare environment. Overall, my goal is to develop both an active learner and compassionate nurse by example.” What I’ have learned from my students: “In my 36+ years of educating nurses, I am even more reminded of a quote by Richard Dann since I began teaching the Accelerated students: ‘He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.’ Approaching the management of a patient with cardiovascular disease takes on a whole new meaning when your background and experience is that of an attorney, a civil engineer, an exercise physiologist, or if your degree is in German, business, psychology, or biochemistry. These students bring so much to the classroom and clinical setting, and their questions regarding why certain things are done in healthcare make every course new and different. Attempting to explain utilizing empirical knowledge often leads to excellent research questions and searches of the literature. They are simultaneously a challenge and delight to teach!”


Favorite quote: “It is not what is poured into a student that counts, but what is planted.” - Linda Conway

2007 USA Teaching Excellence Award COLLEGE OF NURSING Name: Aaron Meacham Gilligan, clinical assistant professor Department: Nursing Year joined USA: 1995 Educational background: Ms. Gilligan received her associates degree in nursing from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Junior College in 1985, her bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of South Alabama and her master of science in nursing from the University of South Alabama. Academic pursuits: Ms. Gilligan’s research concerns the utilization and enhancement of patient simulation in health-care education. Courses: Adult Health One and Two (Theory and Clinical); Delegation of Nursing Practice, Theory and Clinical, Foundations of Professional Nursing, Theory and Clinical, Health Assessment, Nursing Practicum Teaching Philosophy: “The core of my philosophy of teaching is that students must be embraced as individual adult seekers of knowledge. All are there to learn, yet each has a unique learning style, as well as distinctive personal challenges and sources of motivation. It is also important to develop the student’s ability to express feelings and emotions professionally since the ‘intelligent way to handle something’ may not always be the most humane or compassionate. It is important to impart the need to keep the “care” in ‘nursing care’ to students. “Rather than being a “vessel having knowledge poured in,” a student is on a journey with the desired outcome being the acquisition of knowledge. The educator delineates a path, with tasks to complete and obstacles to overcome, and if the student has perseverance and with assistance from the instructor/guide/coach, the goal will be achieved. Students will retain more of what they learn when they have some ownership over their learning. “I must keep the door open for new suggestions and constructive criticism in order to continue to refine the ability to assess, create, and communicate ideas in a fluid and dynamic manner. I believe my skills as an instructor are constantly evolving—I dismantle and reconstruct each week.” What I have learned from my students: “Courage under fire is never an easy lesson. As an adult I enjoy a certain amount of selfassuredness . . . at least I did until my initial student evaluation as a beginning instructor. Although negative feedback is not pleasant, it has brought about much personal growth and improvement in my abilities as an educator. “Compassion for struggles has been a part of my life since before I became a nurse. However, observing the courage of students encountering horrendous circumstances yet still attending classes so they can achieve their educational goals and make a better life for themselves and their families has brought a new dimension to my respect for the resilience of students.” Favorite quote on teaching: “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”



2007 Teaching Excellence Awards  
2007 Teaching Excellence Awards  

This is the awards publication of the University of South Alabama Teaching Excellence Awards 2007.