Dennis Cooper

Dennis Cooper

Mark Bergland
Mark Bergland

Joe Rein

Joe Rein

Faculty Excellence Award Recipients Announced at UW-River Falls

September 3, 2015 -- Three University of Wisconsin-River Falls faculty members have received excellence awards following nominations from colleagues. Each recipient received $1,000.

Professor Mark Bergland of the Biology Department received the 2015 Paul B. and Robert Dykstra Faculty Excellence Award. Assistant Professor Joseph Rein of the English Department received the 2015 Keith Wurtz Award for Teaching Excellence for junior faculty and Professor Dennis Cooper of Animal and Food Science received the 2015 Senior Keith Wurtz Award for Teaching Excellence for senior faculty.

The Dykstra award is designed to support faculty research, creative and scholarly activity and is awarded to a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who is either currently involved in a project or has proposed a research, creative or scholarly project.

Bergland, who also serves as department chair, is actively involved in the National Science Foundation sponsored Case It! collaborative project to develop molecular biology simulations for case-based learning software in the life sciences for students all over the globe. He has been engaged in the project for more than 20 years and is working on adapting its simulation tools for use on mobile platforms.

"Dr. Bergland possesses the attributes of an excellent scholar, as he demonstrates determination, creativity, teamwork, and integration of his efforts into the classroom," a colleague wrote in a nomination letter.

The Wurtz award is designed to support innovators and those who demonstrate "trailblazing" characteristics that may include innovative approaches to teaching, demonstrated scholarship of teaching and learning (e.g. publishing a journal article or textbook), innovative use of technology, curriculum development, effective assessment approaches and results, outreach and partnerships with collaborators on- or off-campus. 

Rein is "an innovator in a very major way. In spring 2014 he put together a screenwriting course and worked with two other units to have five of the screenplays produced into films," a colleague wrote in a nomination letter.

Another colleague wrote "Dr. Rein's holistic and collaborative approach in pedagogy proved amazingly successful. Both in terms of the artistic products generated by students and in terms of the skills developed by all of the students involved. To my knowledge, I have heard of no other undergraduate program in Wisconsin or Minnesota that has successfully employed this approach to teaching the discipline."

Cooper "has played a significant role in either instituting substantial pedagogical changes in, or outright development of" the department's core animal nutrition curriculum," a colleague wrote in a nomination letter. Another wrote that Cooper has "been effective in nudging students out of their perceived comfort zone and, as a result, has helped alumni develop into educated, global citizens" as he is "a very strong proponent of international study and involvement."

Another colleague wrote "When Dr. Cooper educates dairy farmers in Serbia and in China, he is bringing innovation to those areas; as well as cementing international partnerships, he is teaching dairy producers in foreign lands to innovate within their local settings by virtue of his constantly developing, American, professional expertise."

For more information on the awards, email or call 715-425-0629.

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