UMGC Faculty Members Receive Top Honors for Teaching Excellence

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We officially changed our name from University of Maryland University College (UMUC) to University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) on July 1, 2019. News stories posted on the Global Media Center are now using the new UMGC name. However, because the transition to the university’s new name will take several months to complete, you may still see the UMUC name, logo and look on our website and other materials through early 2020.

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has conferred the Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award, the university’s highest faculty teaching honor, on eight of its most outstanding faculty members in Asia, Europe and the United States for their noteworthy contributions to the scholarship and art of teaching.

UMGC issues awards annually to members of the faculty who are nominated by their students, and who show exceptional skill promoting student learning. In commenting on the award, UMGC President Javier Miyares has said that the efforts faculty members make on behalf of students have always been critical to the university’s success.

“Students first leads our list of core values. Your commitment to excellence, your care and concern for our students’ individual and academic well-being and your focus on their personal and professional success, represent the fullest expression of that core value,” Miyares said in congratulatory remarks.

The coveted Drazek award is named in honor of the former chancellor of the university, which in his day was called the University College Division of the University of Maryland. Throughout Drazek’s 30-year association with UMGC, which began in 1948, he was a passionate champion of teaching excellence and a recognized leader in adult higher education at a time when such students were considered nontraditional.

His work is largely credited with expanding opportunities for adult learners, and the award in his name recognizes effective and innovative teaching methods that support and enhance learning and meet students’ needs at every level.

Meet the 2019 Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award Recipients

  UMGC Asia Division

Akira Furugen, professor of mathematics: Furugen began working for UMGC in 1985 and has regularly taught mathematics courses from introductory algebra to calculus at most UMGC locations across Okinawa. “I enjoy watching students learn and improve their math skills. After all, since almost every career requires some form of math, math is the key to their future career, and I am proud to be a part of their success,” he said.

Furugen holds a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s in mathematics from West Texas State University.

  

Dr. Thomas Pettit, assistant professor of biology: Pettit has taught science and biology courses since 2005 and has taught in Asia since 2015. “I love providing support to members of the military community living overseas, and helping them achieve their goals,” he said.

Pettit grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and received his bachelor’s in conservation biology from Arizona State University in 2004, and his doctorate in biology from Baylor University in 2011.

 

UMGC Europe Division

Denise DiStefano, collegiate professor of business: DiStefano has been at the forefront of innovation as changes in technology have provided unique opportunities in the classroom. “At the end of my time with my students, I want them to have gained knowledge, proficiency, and interest in the course subject matter; developed or increased their curiosity for learning in general; and have practiced and honed their analytical reasoning skills,” she said.

Since 1998, DiStefano has taught students in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy using face-to-face, online, hybrid, and live-streaming formats. “If students are sitting in my class, it means they’ve made an effort—and sometimes a substantial one—to be there. Despite any personal, professional, or academic challenges, they get themselves to class. And in that way, class session by class session, course by course, and year by year, they get closer to completing their degrees. What an honor it is to watch them walk across the stage at commencement!”

DiStefano earned both a bachelor’s in communication and a Juris Doctor from American University; a bachelor’s in computer studies from UMGC; and a Master of Laws from the University of Heidelberg.

  

Theresa Martin, D.M., professor of environmental science: Martin’s enthusiasm, breadth of knowledge, and passion for her subject inspires her students, and her encouragement is a key to their success. She intimately knows the challenges that UMGC students face, having walked in their shoes.

“I know that my success as a student was because of my family, my goals, and the caring faculty that I met along my journey,” she stated. “Knowing that my students face the same challenges I did—working, deployments, functioning as a single parent, managing a household, and working on an education—I know that I can help them.”

Martin holds a bachelor’s in environmental studies–life science and a master’s in biology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Additionally, she recently joined the alumni family having earned a Doctor of Management from UMGC.

  

UMGC Stateside

 Marcia Bouchard, D.M., a professor in the UMGC Doctor of Management program: In addition to having a 15-year career in banking, Bouchard enjoyed many opportunities as a trailing spouse (Army wife), which included teaching and numerous positions as a volunteer community leader. Along with teaching at UMGC, she is currently a planning commissioner in the Town of Herndon, Virginia, where she resides with her husband, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general.

“I thrive [in] being in an academic environment and teaching. I also enjoy family, traveling, community, and my home. It is about balance. I have the ability [to work] at my passion, which is teaching, and the flexibility that teaching as an adjunct professor provides,” she said.

Bouchard received a master’s in liberal studies from Georgetown University and not only teaches at UMGC but is a member of the alumni family having received both a bachelor’s in business management and a Doctor of Management from UMGC.

 

Kevin Brothers, J.D., professor of intelligence management in the Graduate School: Before joining the UMGC faculty in 2014, Brothers spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer. Over the past five years, he said he has found inspiration in his students.

“Watching how hard UMGC students work in class despite everything else they have going on in their lives motivates me to create engaging content to help them succeed academically and professionally.”

In addition to teaching, he currently works part-time as an attorney at a legal services organization, assisting low-income clients with immigration matters ranging from family visas to human trafficking. Brothers is passionate about his subject areas of intelligence, law, and security. “I use current developments in these areas to inspire students to go beyond just thinking about classroom assignments as requirements, working closely with them to help develop skills that will allow them to explore how they can contribute their own voice,” he said.

Brothers holds a bachelor’s in language arts from Georgetown University, a master’s in strategic intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College (now National Intelligence University), and a Juris Doctor from the American University School of Law.

 

Nicholas Duchon, Ph.D., a collegiate professor of computer science: Duchon has been a faculty member for more than 25 years and, in addition to the Drazek Award, has received teaching recognition awards in 2004 and 2010. He is a strong advocate for bringing mathematical concepts into courses whenever possible and integrating written work when creating and documenting computer programs.

“Mathematics is the window into the future; the more math you know, the clearer will be your vision,” said Duchon, adding that he finds teaching UMGC students to be fulfilling.

“UMGC students are more committed, focused, demanding, clearer about their goals, have busier lives and perhaps are even happier than most other students when they graduate. I find it amazing just how quickly what they have learned in class applies to their work and life.”

Duchon has a bachelor’s in physics and mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Maryland.

 

 Hossein Zare, Ph.D., an assistant adjunct professor of healthcare management: Zare has been working in the healthcare industry for more than 17 years and has been teaching almost as long. “I have come to understand that not all students are alike; they learn at different paces, and what they value in their training and education varies,” he said.

“One of my greatest passions is motivating students to believe in themselves—believe they can do it, even if it means walking with them step-by-step.”

In addition to teaching at UMGC, Zare works as an assistant scientist at Johns Hopkins University and has more than fifteen publications on healthcare systems around the world, health insurance, and medical service tariffs.

“I love teaching because I like to support, nurture, and motivate future scientists, researchers and experts. My primary goal as an instructor is to create a classroom environment in which students from all backgrounds can achieve their potential and learn to think [like] scientists.”

Zare holds a master’s in cybersecurity fro UMGC and a doctorate in health policy and management from Research & Science Islamic Azad University.

 

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