University of Maryland University College has received three 2014 Awards of Excellence from the University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Mid-Atlantic Region. The honors for Outstanding Faculty member, Outstanding Continuing Education Student nominee, and Partnership were presented at UPCEA's recent Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Newark, Delaware.
UMUC Professor Inez Giles, Outstanding Faculty award winner, was singled out for her "tireless engagement" in the classroom and "vigorous pursuit of resources that support student success." She has taught courses in business, information systems management, and human resources and can still remember the very first class she taught in the fall of 1986.
"My experience of UMUC students is that they are dedicated scholars working hard to develop and hone their academic and professional skills. It is such a privilege to work with them," Giles said.
For Giles' students, the sentiment appears to be mutual: Dr. Giles has received many nominations for UMUC's Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award. That fact, as well as her dedication to the UMUC community, points to Giles as an exceptional faculty member, said UMUC Vice Provost and Undergraduate School Dean Matthew Prineas.
In addition to teaching, Giles serves as a peer mentor to new UMUC faculty, is a course chair, and assists in curriculum development. Her thoughts about being honored as Outstanding Faculty "run the gamut," she said.
"I was thankful to be nominated by my UMUC colleagues. I know I was selected to represent UMUC from amongst a talented pool of dedicated faculty. To have won the UPCEA Award is gratifying."
UPCEA also honored Gita Saleh, who was named an Outstanding Continuing Education Student nominee. Ms. Saleh, pursuing a Master of Science in Biotechnology with a focus on Bioinformatics, has been a graduate student at UMUC since 2011. Faculty describe her as smart, kind, and thoughtful.
"She is known to help out students in group projects, wherever possible, if they are unable to meet a deadline because of a personal situation," said Rana Khan, director of UMUC's Biotechnology program and chair of the graduate school's Information and Technology Systems department.
Aside from being a remarkable student, Khan added that Saleh "has successfully overcome great challenges in life and has become a role model to other students."
Finally, UMUC received a Partnership Award for the Gateways to Success project, supported by a grant funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The project, which addressed performance and retention issues in undergraduate STEM courses through innovative learning approaches, was implemented by faculty at colleges nationwide in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative staff. And results indicate improved engagement, persistence, and student satisfaction.