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University of Maryland University College conferred its highest faculty teaching honor, the Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award, on seven of its most outstanding faculty members and recognized more than a dozen others for their noteworthy contributions to the scholarship and art of teaching at UMUC's annual Academic Achievement Celebration on May 14.

The awards highlight "our commitment to teaching people how to turn knowledge into action and empowering people to achieve personal growth and professional success, which is at the core of our mission. This is what we specialize in at UMUC," said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Marie Cini in the ceremony's opening remarks.

There is, perhaps, no calling more important to humanity than teaching, Cini added. "Instilling in students an insatiable appetite for discovery and a love for learning can forever change their lives and position them to make a difference in our world."

The faculty's efforts on behalf of students have always been critical to UMUC's success, said UMUC President Javier Miyares in congratulating the winners. The award, named after UMUC's second president, Stanley J. Drazek, recognizes these efforts.

The award is also a fitting testament to Drazek, who was a champion of teaching excellence and a recognized leader in adult higher education at a time when such students were considered nontraditional. Drazek's work is largely credited with expanding opportunities for adult learners. His namesake award for teaching excellence recognizes effective and innovative teaching methods that support and enhance learning and meet students' needs at every level.

2015 Drazek Teaching Excellence Award Winners

Recipients representing UMUC's Graduate School were longtime Adjunct Professor Jim Chen (cybersecurity) and Adjunct Professor M. Hosein Fallah (business and management). The Undergraduate School winners were Adjunct Assistant Professor Karen Friedman (mathematics) and Adjunct Professor Thomas Gluick (natural sciences).

Three overseas faculty also received awards for teaching excellence. They were Collegiate Associate Professor Doug Dallier (criminology and sociology, UMUC Asia), Collegiate Associate Professor David Jenkins (English and speech communication, UMUC Asia), and Adjunct Instructor Helen Driver (English, UMUC Europe).

In addition to the Drazek Awards for teaching excellence, five other outstanding faculty with noteworthy academic achievements received the UMUC Teaching Recognition Award. They were Collegiate Assistant Professor Celeste McCarty (psychology) and Adjunct Assistant Professor Keith Graff (business management), both UMUC Asia; Adjunct Associate Professor Rochelle Parks-Yancy and Adjunct Assistant Professor David Milobsky, both of whom teach in The Graduate School's business and management program; and Adjunct Associate Professor Nancy Grzesik, who teaches accounting in The Undergraduate School.

Distinction of Professor Emeritus

Also at this year's awards ceremony, 10 UMUC faculty members were conferred the distinction of professor emeritus, an honorary title that may be bestowed on faculty upon their retirement in recognition of their significant contributions to teaching, research, and service.

The awarding of emeritus status recognizes faculty who throughout their careers have adhered to UMUC's stated core values, including students first and excellence.

The distinction of professor emeritus was awarded to Michael Apichella, Alan Ertl, Warren Johnson, Tobe Levin, Richard Powers, Mary Liana Stover, Ronald Taubitz, Deborah Tevis-Noelting, Alena Vanderborght, and Therese Weiss.

Addressing the pressing need for education in the 21st century, Miyares said, "The global demand continues to grow for skilled and principled leaders and managers who know how to think and not just what to think."

The feedback generated through the Drazek Award selection process paints a picture of bright, engaged, and engaging educators who effectively meet that demand and "who can truly serve as coach, collaborator, mentor, and guide . . . all qualities vital to UMUC's success," he added.

Said Miyares, "We honor you for putting students first by making their success your top priority."