Thirteen faculty members will be honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching during the annual Faculty Awards Convocation, Tuesday, March 9 at 3 p.m. in the Alys Stephens Center Sirote Theatre.

Other featured awards to be presented include the Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching and the Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award.

The 2009 honorees for the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching represent each school and the Joint Health Sciences departments.

Alison Chapman
Arts & Humanities

Chapman, Ph.D., an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the English department, specializes in early modern literature and culture. A native of Birmingham, Chapman graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College and earned her Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the cultural effects of the English Reformation, and she has published in the top academic journals in her field. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Renaissance poetry and prose, Shakespeare, Milton, British literature to 1800 and composition. She is known for her vibrant and accessible teaching. One co-worker says, “Alison is able to inspire students with love for Milton and Renaissance poetry through her own expertise and infectious enthusiasm. She works with literature that even to me, a scholar in contemporary literature, hardly seems innately exciting or even accessible, but she really manages to bring it alive for students. Students commonly talk about how much they learned in her class, and they come out of her classes with a genuine passion and enthusiasm for texts as initially daunting as Milton’s Paradise Lost.”

Allen Johnston

Johnston, Ph.D., an assistant professor, has received excellent evaluations and accolades from students and administrators regarding his effectiveness in the classroom since his arrival at UAB. His teaching evaluations consistently rank among the highest at UAB and within his discipline. Johnston is responsible for planning, developing and implementing two new courses, Digital Forensics and Programming Logic, which previously were not offered at UAB. He’s developing the new course Social Media and Virtual Communities in Business for spring. Johnston also is known for integrating technologies into the classroom that have been underutilized, including “clicker” technology in the Introduction to Business course to better engage first-year students. He also uses numerous social media technologies, including Sharepoint, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress. One former student praised Johnston for assisting him and another student in finding a job. “He met with us during office hours, outside office hours and still has extended an invitation to help us in any way possible to ensure that we have the opportunity to launch a successful career. I have never met an individual that was more dedicated, passionate and loyal in the investment of others than Dr. Johnston.”

Madelyn Coar

Coar, D.M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Endodontics, is the director of pre-doctoral endodontics, director of diversity and an affirmative action officer. Coar’s teaching responsibilities include pre-clinical, clinical and didactic courses in endodontics for second-, third- and fourth-year dental students. She also co-directs courses in cultural competence to enhance patient-centered care, engaging campus experts in health-care delivery as presenters. Coar, a past recipient of the UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, is the faculty advisor to the Student National Dental Association chapter and co-advisor to the Women’s Dental Association student chapter in the School of Dentistry. The junior dental school class nominated Coar for the award. They say Coar “exemplifies what this class believes to be qualities essential to educating dental students. She has the base of knowledge and practice experience to teach. Just as important, she has the presentation skills to keep the lecture entertaining. Both inside and outside of the classroom, Dr. Coar is always willing to assist students in need.”

Lynn Kirkland

Kirkland, Ed.D., is the director of the Children’s Creative Learning Center. She develops the appropriate curriculum, supervises practicum students and oversees all budget and personnel matters. The program has expanded in the number of sites and children served under her direction and has added a substantial English Language Learners component. Kirkland has earned the reputation as an enthusiastic, caring, demanding and dedicated instructor in her 13 years in the School of Education. She teaches courses across several disciplines and at all levels — undergraduate through doctoral. Her expertise in literacy is evidenced by her work teaching undergraduate/alternative master’s courses such as Language Arts in P6, Children’s Literature and Developmental Reading. Graduate/doctoral-level literacy courses include Language Development and Literacy Before Schooling. Kirkland also has taught undergraduate through doctoral-level courses that focus on various aspects of child development. One student says she was “immediately struck by Dr. Kirkland’s depth of knowledge and intense focus on promoting best practices in all teachers’ classrooms. Every course session addressed the pressing and authentic issues that teachers were facing and pushed each individual to explore possible ways of overcoming the overwhelming challenges faced daily by teachers in the public school setting.”

Robin Foley

Foley, Ph.D., an associate professor in Materials Science and Engineering, is a recognized expert in the materials characterization area and has received numerous awards for her publications. Colleagues say Foley brings the knowledge and experience associated with the analysis and characterization of materials failures into the classroom to motivate students and aid in their education. She also has been responsible for dramatic improvement in undergraduate laboratory facilities during the past two years. The improvements include the purchase and installation of new equipment, the procurement of new cabinets, installation of a new fume hood and replacing the flooring. The changes have resulted in a clean, modern laboratory that is outfitted with some of the most up-to-date equipment available. Students say Foley is an outstanding teacher who is willing to help whenever needed. “I was struggling with stereographic projects and understanding the placement of the different crystallographic planes, but was afraid to ask for help,” one student says. “Dr. Foley saw me struggling, sat with me and worked out each problem until I understood the material. Needless to say, I received a perfect score on that question, but what impacted me more was what happened after the test. Dr. Foley came to me to personally congratulate me on passing the test, giving me hugs and encouragement. That moment meant more to me than passing the test.”

Mary Warren
Health Professions

Warren is an internationally recognized expert in the field of low-vision rehabilitation and is an in-demand speaker. She has presented and taught courses extensively in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia and has given expert testimony to Congressional leaders on traumatic brain injury-related vision issues. While her expert status is unquestionable, Warren’s significant record of teaching and presentation engagements would not exist if not for her teaching skill. Colleagues say her presentation manner is “remarkable” for her low-key manner and her sense of humor keeps students engaged and interested in course material. They say she has the unique ability to present complex material in carefully detailed lectures, which enable students to follow and comprehend the information. “In Mary’s classes, I was encouraged to think deeply and analytically about the material being presented,” one student says. “One thing I particularly liked about Mary was her ability to acknowledge the contributions made by the students, whether large or small. This always made me want to think my best and do my best, and I believe that my fellow students felt the same way.”

Robin Lester
Joint Health Sciences

Lester, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology, joined UAB in 1995. He is a nationally known leader in addiction research, and he is currently researching the chronic effects of nicotine withdrawal. He has served on NIH study sections and is on the editorial board on the journal Neuropharmacology. Lester has been continuously funded by the NIH since his arrival at UAB. He’s also demonstrated a sustained and outstanding commitment to teaching. Lester has been involved actively in both graduate and medical school teaching and consistently receives outstanding reviews from the students in his classes. Colleagues say Lester consistently provides insightful scientific comments and constructively challenges and encourages students to reach their full potential in his laboratory or in the labs of his colleagues. “Because of his reputation as an excellent lecturer, Robin’s teaching load is much more extensive than his colleagues within his department and throughout the UAB neuroscience community,” says a colleague. Lester has been recognized for his exceptional teaching ability by receiving the UAB School of Medicine Argus Award for Best Lecturer in Neuroscience in 2008 and 2009. “He has a talent for conveying some of the most difficult concepts in membrane biophysics,” a colleague says.

Alice Goepfert

Goepfert, M.D., is considered an exemplary and innovative educator, and in her 15 years in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology she has consistently excelled in teaching, which is substantiated by her many distinguished awards and honors. Goepfert has repeatedly demonstrated extensive knowledge of both the medical and teaching aspects of Ob/Gyn through many scholarly activities and developments. She has taught, organized and facilitated conferences and programs and seminars on maternal-fetal medicine and undergraduate and graduate medical education at the local and national levels. Goepfert is as a mentor and resource to students, residents, fellows and colleagues. “Dr. Goepfert is one of the most outstanding clinical educators I encountered during my third and fourth years of medical school,” says one student. “She clearly is passionate about teaching medical students, which extends beyond simply imparting information. She challenges students to think critically and independently and to become more adept at solving clinical problems. Her teaching style truly motivates students to expand their critical thinking and ultimately become better physicians.”

Douglas Watson
Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Watson, Ph.D., professor of biology, has the appropriate background to teach courses at the introductory and graduate levels. Students in these classes have commented on his extensive knowledge of the subject matter, passion for teaching and his ability to use a variety of teaching techniques to engage the students. In an evaluation, one student said he wanted to take a course Watson was teaching because “I knew I was going to get my money’s worth in my professor.” Colleagues say Watson has the ability to interest and captivate students and the rare quality of being able to say the right thing at the right time to get his point across. “It makes him one of those instructors that you will remember fondly for the rest of your life,” states a colleague. “Doug is committed to offering biology students the best teaching experience possible and because of this commitment has excelled at all aspect of teaching.” Students say Watson’s teaching style is “well-organized” and that he breaks down the subjects into understandable parts. “He always started with the basic concepts and then built upon your basic understanding with new material to enable the students to expand their knowledge,” one student says. “Even for me, an international student, there was no difficulty at all following and understanding the material.”

David Vance

Vance, Ph.D., is as an associate professor in the Family/Child Health and Caregiving Department. He teaches in the DNP and Ph.D. research-design statistics courses and the Honors in Nursing Program for graduate and undergraduate students. He has achieved high teaching-effectiveness ratings from his students in these programs and has demonstrated exceptional standards for learning, scholarship, professionalism, mentoring and service, say colleagues. Students speak to his ability to mentor them through the necessary statistics and the publication process. They also laud his contagious enthusiasm for scholarship at all levels. One student said Vance was hands-on in his independent study research practicum course, in which Vance allowed the student to use his data for a secondary analysis on empowerment in HIV-positive women. “When he provided me with the data, he didn’t hand me a bulk of papers and say, ‘There you go; good luck,’” the student says. “He went through the data with me on a weekly basis, page after page, until together we were able to conceptualize a general outline for the manuscript. My learning experience in the statistical analyses of the data was invaluable. He enabled me to think critically as an independent researcher, while fostering my thought processes with his input and expertise. This collaboration led to my first publication as a first author in a peer-reviewed journal.”

Marsha Snow

Snow, O.D., an associate professor and chief of Low Vision Patient Services, has been teaching in optometry since 2001 and also holds a secondary appointment in the School of Education. Her didactic teaching includes her role as course master for Clinical Low Vision Rehabilitation. Snow was awarded the Excellence in Clinical Science Instruction by the UAB AOSA in 2003 and has consistently received above-average scores on student evaluations. “It is difficult to put into words the impact Dr. Snow has made on me during my years in Optometry school,” says one student. “She has been a great teacher in and out of the classroom. Her expertise and love of low vision has inspired me personally to pursue a residency position with a focus on low vision. She never is negative and always used constructive criticism to help me become more skilled.” Snow also receives praise from the students she teaches in the clinic setting. “She is very engaged in observing her students in real patient encounters, which I believe is a critical part of training practitioners,” one student says. “At the same time she creates an environment in which learning can occur without discouraging the novice practitioner.”

Inmaculada Aban
Public Health

Aban’s passion for teaching began in her high-school years when summer vacation meant teaching math to her neighborhoods friends. Aban, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics, says her friends may have thought they were playing, but it was something she took seriously, and it laid the foundation for her career as a teacher. Colleagues and student say Aban always is well organized and presents well-prepared lectures. Aban has taught Statistical Theory II, Advanced Inference and Statistical Theory I during the past year. All students in the Biostatistics program are required to take the Statistical Theory courses. “Dr. Aban is a great instructor,” one student says. “Her enthusiasm for teaching is very apparent to her students. She always is very well prepared, open to questions, easy to approach, makes herself available to students outside of class and also finds a way to challenge her students to make them go beyond what they think they can accomplish. Her method of teaching is fun, easy to follow and causes the students to stay on their toes.”

Andrew Keitt
Social & Behavioral Sciences

Keitt, Ph.D., associate professor of history, has taught a variety of courses, from introductory surveys including Western Civilization and skills courses such as The Historian’s Craft to specialized upper-division courses and graduate seminars in his specialization — the religious and intellectual history of early modern Europe. Keitt employs his “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy in classes where it is appropriate. The method, which consists of complex games set in the past, in which students are assigned roles with victory objectives, is a popular one with students. “Professor Keitt has taught me in both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” One student says. “I always have been impressed with his work ethic, teaching methods and his willingness to help.” Colleagues say his work with the Freshmen Learning Communities and his Reacting to the Past seminars are providing new and exciting learning opportunities for students. “Andrew has spent countless hours researching and testing various techniques and methods,” one colleague says. “His career exemplifies dedication to teaching.”