Distinguished Teacher

2017 - David Zlesak

David Zlesak, an associate professor of horticulture, has accomplished what he set out to do. He was recently named the 2017 Distinguished Teacher, the highest teaching award presented at UW-River Falls. David says he was surprised when Chancellor Dean Van Galen visited his office to inform him of his award, but he remains humble when asked what the honor means to him.

“It means I’m on the right track. I know that there is always room for improvement. I have to stay on the right track, it means keep caring about the students,” he explains. “Staying up-to-date with the discipline and the curriculum combined with caring about people, that’s what makes an effective teacher.”

Care and compassion isn’t the only quality that David imparts on his students. A renowned plant breeder, David’s work in the horticulture field is a boon for his students.

Andy Sherwood described David's teaching style as excellent.

“Dr. Zlesak has inspired me to follow my dreams with his passion for helping students and promulgating knowledge. His courses have always provided a healthy challenge that pushed me forward towards success."

In his nomination letter, Tanner Conway said, “He has gone above and beyond what I could ever ask for in a mentor.”

David has truly had a profound impact on this students and has a drive to continue inspiring college students.

According to Brent Arnoldussen, “David is one of the most prolific researchers and is always eager to invite new students into the scientific process through undergraduate research. David is always getting new students involved, and the opportunity to work with David in his breeding and tissue culture work has been some of the most important experience from my undergraduate has prepared me to do research in preparation for graduate school.” 

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