Ten Wichita State faculty members were honored during the 2008 Faculty Awards. Jill Docking with the Kansas Board of Regents presented the awards. The honorees were chosen for setting the gold standard for teaching, research and creative activities at WSU.
|Community Research||Louis Medvene|
|Excellence in Creative Activity||Judy Babnich|
|Excellence in Research||Barbara Hodson|
|Academy for Effective Teaching||
|Young Faculty Scholar||Robert Manske|
|Leadership in the Advancement of Teaching||Gamal Weheba|
|Excellence in Teaching||
The Community Research Award recognizes a faculty member who has established an exemplary and demonstrable record of scholarship extended to external constituents resulting in significant outcome for individuals, organizations or communities in problem solving or development. Full-time faculty who have served at WSU for at least three years are eligible. The recipient is awarded $2,500.
Louis Medvene, associate professor, psychology, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Louis Medvene earned a bachelor’s degree, with honors in psychology, from Clark University in 1967. He then earned a master’s in developmental psychology from the University of Rochester in 1972 and a master’s in community organization and planning from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1976. Medvene went on to earn his Ph.D. in social and organizational psychology from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences in 1983.
Medvene has worked at Wichita State University since 1992, when he started as an assistant professor of psychology. In 1998, he moved up to associate professor, a position he holds today.
Medvene has held several other academic appointments, as well. He was assistant research psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles California Self-Help Center from 1985-1989. He was also adjunct assistant professor of psychology at the Claremont Graduate School from 1989-1992. And from 2003 to the present he has served as adjunct associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.
Classes Medvene teaches at WSU include social and developmental foundations of behavior, applied research methods and community practicum.
On the Wichita State Web site, Medvene explains how his interests influence his teaching and research:
“I am interested in relationships and how they are established and maintained,” he said. “My current research involves helping and care-giving in long-term geriatric care facilities. I am interested in how cognitive processes influence perceptions and interactions in helping and romantic relationships.”
Medvene has had many of his works published over the years, including in such high-quality refereed journals as the Journal of General Internal Medicine, The Gerontologist, the Journal of Applied Social Psychology and the Journal of Clinical and Social Psychology.
And in 2004, he was awarded the John R. Barrier Distinguished Teaching Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences by WSU’s Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Along with his role as associate professor at WSU, Medvene served as the first coordinator of the psychology program from 2003 to 2007.
In his time at Wichita State, Medvene’s work has made an impact on his peers.
Economics professor Martin Perline said Medvene is a perfect fit for the Community Research Award because of his involvement in the Wichita community. Medvene has published many articles and presented papers in the area of health and well-being, which have come from his partnering with various groups in Wichita.
“I’ve known Lou since his arrival at WSU, and we often discuss our various research activities,” Perline said. “I am somewhat envious of his research, which has immediate value to the community and society at large.”
Mary Anderson, former dean of health sciences at Wichita Area Technical College, agreed that Medvene’s work has done a lot for the local community.
“His work focuses on a critical community need, he has brought community resources together to work on the need, and his work is resulting in products that can contribute to meeting this need.”
Greg Meissen, professor of psychology at WSU and director of the Center for Community Support and Research (formerly known as the Self-Help Network: Center for Community Support and Research), said Medvene has the respect of numerous community partners for his work at WSU. Because of that, Meissen said, Medvene is an excellent candidate for the award.
“Dr. Medvene has developed a carefully structured, theoretically grounded research program that conducts experimentally valid studies in a variety of community settings oriented toward older adults,” Meissen said. “Lou’s leadership, research record and his ability to form productive community, academic and business partnerships nicely meets the criteria outlined for this award.”
The Excellence in Creative Activity Award, established in 1999, is given to a faculty member who has established an exemplary record of creative activity that has brought recognition to the university. Creative activity can include work in musical compositions, visual arts, choreography, writing and performance. Full-time faculty who have been at WSU for three years are eligible. The recipient is awarded $2,500.
Judith Babnich, professor, School of Performing Arts, College of Fine Arts
“Dr. Babnich has demonstrated her excellence in creative and scholarly activities, both nationally and internationally, through her work as a director and her research on gender and diversity issues,” said Betty Monroe, WSU professor of costume design. “I have seen some amazing creative work done by her. I have also seen her turn a new play, that I was not sure had merit, into a smashing hit. She brings her creative mind to a play and makes it shine, inspiring the students in the process.”
Steve Peters, chair of the School of Performing Arts, and Leroy Clark, former chair, both applaud Babnich’s work on diversity. Peters was especially impressed with the spring 2007 production of “Intimate Apparel,” which touched on ethnic, racial and religious boundaries in early 20th century New York. It was a compelling production, he said, that was very well-received.
“Intimate Apparel” and other such productions not only broaden her theater students’ cultural experience but give students of color a chance at the stage and draw in new audiences, Babnich said.
“For many of the actors this was the first time that they were in a play that actually depicted their lives, their history and their culture onstage,” she said. “I hope the production gave the audience an insight into what life was like for African Americans in New York in 1905.”
Babnich is frequently invited to conferences to present her research on diversity and performance issues. Her juried paper “Getting a Diverse Foot Through the Stage Door” was accepted for presentation at this summer’s 8th International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations in Montreal. She has also touched on issues of domestic violence, gender equity, AIDS and even the effects of crystal methamphetamine on performers’ voices.
“(She) has demonstrated an ability to risk, to do cutting-edge theater, to reach out to minorities and to work with the community,” said Clark, her former chair. “She has never played it safe and done easy shows.”
She has won awards from the Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival for six of her plays, three of which were original scripts being produced for the first time. She has also been honored by invitations to present whole productions of “The House Where Nobody Lives,” “But Dust and Ash” and “Winter Lies,” an original script.
Phil Speary taught and directed theater for 12 years at Butler Community College before becoming director of assessment. As artistic director for Wichita Community Theatre, where Babnich directed “Fences” in 1998, Speary has admired her work for many years.
“Dr. Babnich is one of the most respected and innovative theatrical directors in the region,” said Speary.
Beyond her theater work she has also become widely known as an enthusiastic and tireless volunteer in many community organizations.
“A hallmark of outstanding creativity is a willingness to take risks, and Dr. Babnich is certainly a risk taker with a formidable record of success,” Speary said.
The Excellence in Research Award, established in 1997, recognizes a faculty member who has established an exemplary record of research that has advanced the university’s research mission. Full-time faculty who have been at WSU for three years are eligible. The recipient is awarded $2,500.
Barbara Hodson, professor, communication sciences and disorders, College of Health Professions
Such words as “pioneer,” “role model” and “mentor” appear repeatedly in reviews of Hodson’s extensive record of research, teaching and clinical work. She has been published widely and awarded by her peers for contributions to a career that spans 40 years.
For Hodson, it all still comes down to one mission – helping children with speech problems become intelligible communicators.
Along that path, Hodson has set the standard for research, teaching and service, said her department chair, Kathy Coufal. Since joining the WSU faculty, Hodson has produced 41 research-based publications including authoring, editing or co-editing five texts. Her myriad presentations at state, national and international conferences have further extended her influence and, as Coufal noted, brought renown to WSU.
“Dr. Hodson’s integration of research into her teaching and clinical supervision reflects the scholar-teacher that she exemplifies,” Coufal said. “She enjoys an outstanding national and international reputation as the leader in research related to phonological disorders in children.”
“Her students have clearly benefitted from her expertise,” said Marlene Schommer-Aikens, WSU professor of education psychology. A dissertation director for doctoral students, Hodson has also chaired thesis committees for master’s students. In addition, she has been a wonderful mentor to tenure-seeking faculty, said Schommer-Aikens.
Lesley Magnus, associate professor at Minot State University, had become familiar as a graduate student with Hodson’s work. He would later ask for her mentorship during his doctoral work at WSU.
“Her name was associated with cutting-edge research for children with severe speech disorders,” said Magnus. Her research, he added, resulted in an approach that is now being used worldwide.
Magnus gladly attributes his success to Hodson and other WSU professors in his doctoral program. He assigns his students articles and chapters written by Hodson, and his university uses her textbook “Evaluating and Enhancing Children’s Phonological Systems: Research and Theory to Practice” in its advanced graduate class. The university’s clinic uses a test she created to assess children with severe speech disorders, “Hodson Assessment of Phonological Patterns,” now in its third edition.
Magnus said that Hodson is also a “wonderful humanitarian” who has never turned away a student.
In awarding Hodson the Frank R. Kleffner Lifetime Clinical Career Award in 2004, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation wrote:
“(She) is honored for her pioneering work in phonology, representing a major paradigm shift in how phonological disorders are assessed and treated . . . Her cycles intervention approach is recognized and used internationally . . . Due to her vision, hundreds of children have become effective communicators and better readers, and generations of professionals have accelerated their knowledge and skills.”
Although she has won much major professional recognition, including a WSU President’s Distinguished Service Award, Hodson said the Kleffner award affirmed the advocacy she brings to her profession.
Shortly after winning the award, so named for former Institute of Logopedics director Frank Kleffner, Hodson was observed at WSU’s Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic listening intently through headphones to a session between a graduate clinician and a young client taking place on the other side of the “glass,” a word being phonetically and successfully pronounced as “Guh-lass” on this day. Before coming to the clinic, he said “dat” for “glass.”
As Hodson said in a 2005 campus news article: “My focus is on the kiddos. I wouldn’t give up my clinic.”
Established in 1996, these awards are given by WSU’s Academy for Effective Teaching, a group of outstanding emeriti faculty nominated for membership by current faculty and staff at WSU. Recipients of the AET Teaching Award are chosen through a multistage process. After collecting nominations from current upper-division and graduate students, the 10-person AET Steering Committee creates a short list of excellent teachers, each of whom is invited to submit a teaching portfolio. On the basis of the portfolios, the AET Steering Committee recommends winners to the provost, who makes the final award. Awardees who are full-time faculty receive a $2,000 addition to their base salary beginning the following academic year; adjunct awardees receive a one-time $2,000 award. The honorees are Timothy Quigley, Diane Scott and Larry Spurgeon.
Timothy Quigley, associate professor, Department of Physician Assistant, College of Health Professions
The fact that Quigley still practices clinical medicine in the community not only reflects his own passion and caring for the medical arts. Bringing real-world case studies to the classroom is the main tenet of his teaching philosophy.
He is consistently rated highly by his students, who cheer his ability to incorporate examples and personal anecdotes into the classroom and his articulation of complex subjects into accessible information. He is also personable, they say, with a creative and sometimes humorous approach to topics.“
(He) is an excellent teacher and is always concerned for the student and the time that goes into class,” said one. “He is very approachable and willing to help outside of the classroom.”Quigley’s teaching objective, and that of the College of Health Professions, is to develop a competent and compassionate health care provider with strong communication skills in listening, patient education and teamwork, and excellent problem-solving abilities. Quigley’s colleagues see him doing that every day.
“Tim’s true calling is teaching,” said Rick Muma, PA department chair. “Over the years (10+) I’ve worked with him, I’ve had numerous positive comments from students about his ability to connect with them. He is absolutely gifted in this area and is a tremendous asset to the PA department.”
Inspiring the students is what it’s about for Quigley.
“The teacher must be a motivator of students,” said Quigley, “so they will develop the capacity to make wise, responsible, ethical decisions that can literally mean the difference between life and death of the patients they treat.”
He tries hard, he said, to create an upbeat and enthusiastic learning-centered environment, and said that the students have responded well to his clinical experience and the practical knowledge that comes along with it. He also likes to include a community-service component to one of his large courses, enabling students to interact outside their usual comfort zone, with some of the more impoverished or disadvantaged members of the community.
“He knows the material,” said one of his students in support of Quigley’s nomination. “He presents it in a fashion that is easy to understand and retain. He cares about his students, not just their academic performance but also their mental and social well-being.”
Quigley is a past winner of the Rodenberg Award for Excellence in Teaching (1999), and has been consistently nominated by his students for the Academy for Effective Teaching Award; he was a finalist for the AET Award in 2006-07. His personnel file includes hundreds of positive student comments in support of these nominations.
He knows that students consistently comment on his apparent love for the topics that are covered in physician assistant classes and clinics. Frankly, he said, he has always loved working in the medical field.
“I have been involved in medicine in some fashion since I started as a nursing home orderly at age 16,” said Quigley.
That’s no surprise to anyone who knows him.
Diane Scott, lecturer, management, W. Frank Barton School of Business
Scott has worked at WSU for 11 years as a Barton School of Business lecturer. During that time, she has been commended for her work as a teacher. She won the Mortarboard Educator Appreciation Award in 1999-2000 and was named Barton School of Business Undergraduate Teacher of the Year in 2005-2006.
Scott’s teaching philosophy was developed through a combination of experience as a student, professor mentoring and general management theory.
While taking a theater class from Phil Speary, Scott learned the value of clearly defining expectations for students. She took those lessons with her and said she strives to imitate Speary’s teaching methods. That includes being well organized and making sure her students always know what is expected of them.
“I may require that students know a massive amount of information, but there is never any question about what I consider to be important,” she said.
Scott also learned about teaching while she was a graduate assistant to WSU professor John Belt, a former recipient of the Academy for Effective Teaching Award. Belt taught her how to entertain and engage students. Now every major concept Scott teaches has a story to go with it. She believes that helps students retain information and do better in class.
“She cares about her students and tries very hard to make class fun and informative,” one student said in a Students Perception of Teaching Effectiveness survey. “She has helped me out a great deal with how I manage my employees, which is a testament to her ability to relate abstract theory with real-world application. I cannot say enough good things about Ms. Scott.”
Scott makes it a point to stay involved with her students outside the classroom. She’s a member of many Barton School and university committees, including WSU’s scholarship committee, the Barton School’s scholarship committee and the Barton School’s Business Week committee, among others.
Scott also advises a number of co-op students and, in a recent semester, had 15 co-op students in a variety of managerial positions. Her most extensive contact with students outside the classroom, though, is as a faculty adviser to the Barton School’s professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi.
Bart Hildreth, interim dean of the Barton School, said Scott has been a real asset to WSU.
“She is a truly outstanding teacher,” he said. “She cares about her students. She translates concepts and theories in very relevant ways. It is a real joy to have her on the faculty.”
While Scott said she has thoroughly enjoyed her time at Wichita State, she has plans to move on. She has accepted a position at the University of Missouri-Kansas City starting in June to create and administer a new professional development program for high-growth entrepreneurs.
Her goal is to use her experience and contacts from WSU to earn a Ph.D. and return to teaching in the future.
“Although I will clearly miss my colleagues and students and the home that WSU has become for me, I feel this is an important risk to take for my further development,” she said.
Larry Spurgeon, senior lecturer and Jones faculty fellow in business ethics, Finance, Real Estate and Decision Sciences, W. Frank Barton School of Business
Larry Spurgeon received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Washburn University in 1980. He went on to earn his juris doctor degree at the University of Idaho College of Law in 1982. Following graduation Spurgeon clerked for a state trial judge in Boise, Idaho, and in 1984 joined a law firm in Boise, where his practice included insurance coverage and defense, business litigation and business acquisitions.
In 1987, the Wichita native joined the law firm of Adams & Jones in Wichita, where his practice areas included business transactions, litigation and employment law. In 1997, he began teaching at Wichita State as an adjunct instructor in business law. In August 2004 he joined the faculty at WSU as a full-time instructor of business law. Spurgeon is now a senior lecturer inthe department of finance, real estate and decision sciences.
In total, Spurgeon spent 20 years practicing law full-time. He also taught in 2002 at the now-defunct President’s College School of Law in Wichita. But he got started on his path late, spending time as a nontraditional student at WSU before heading to Washburn.
While teaching at WSU, Spurgeon has been an integral part of the business law staff. His courses have included Legal Environment of Business; Law of Commercial Transactions; Law of Business Associations; Introduction to Insurance; and Legal Research and Writing.
Spurgeon believes that teachers have a responsibility greater than just teaching the assigned material. He strives to inspire students to have a love of discovery.
He does that through using the elements that make up what he calls the foundation of teaching: integrity, expertise and structure. That includes having respect for students, he said, and providing a consistent learning environment that students can count on.
“The teacher must have rules, but not too many,” Spurgeon said. “The reasons must be clearly articulated, and the rules fairly and consistently applied. Students respect a teacher who is firm, but fair, who has high but realistic expectations.”
Spurgeon said there are other elements that also make a good teacher, and for him those strengths include experience, storytelling, mentoring and passion.
As a nontraditional student who has worked for many years outside academia, Spurgeon feels he has a range of experiences to draw on when teaching. His experience, he said, helps him explain the relevance of the legal topics he covers in class.
Storytelling is especially important to Spurgeon, who said he’s not good at telling conventional jokes but still believes in using humor and anecdotes to keep students’ attention.
“That is the trade secret,” he said. “I work hard to find stories which help explain the concepts, but which also make an emotional connection.”
Along with teaching, Spurgeon enjoys the role of mentor. He hopes some of his students see his life as an example that it’s never too late to obtain education and find a career that makes you happy.
Part of that is being approachable, which Spurgeon said comes from the fact that he genuinely likes his students and has a passion for sharing what he knows.
“Neither of those can be faked,” he said. “Teaching is, for me, a calling. I feel very fortunate to be in a position to share my love for discovery.”
Judging by comments left on various Student Perception of Teaching Effectiveness surveys, Spurgeon’s students appreciate his teaching style.
“Mr. Spurgeon is an excellent instructor and teaches from his extensive hands-on knowledge,” one student wrote. “This makes class exciting. I would take any course that he taught.”
Another student wrote: “The instructor is definitely the best I’ve had so far during my MBA studies. He was great at sharing personal experience and allowing students to ask questions. This class was worth every penny.”
Wichita State University’s Board of Trustees established the Young Faculty Scholar Award in 1988 to recognize faculty members who are between their third and eighth year of service and have records of excellence in teaching performance and substantial achievement in research and/or creative activity. The recipient receives a $2,000 award.
Robert Manske, associate professor, physical therapy, College of Health Professions
A superb record of teaching, research and service has earned Manske more than just early promotion and tenure in his college. He has gained his colleagues’ genuine admiration and praise.
Dr. Manske is an extraordinary and exceptional member of our faculty,” said Camilla Wilson, chair of the department of physical therapy. “He continues to amaze me with his impressive research agenda and publication success.”
In the past year alone, Wilson noted, Manske has submitted six journal articles that are in review by the top journals in the physical therapy field; he has already been heavily published in all of them. In addition, he has edited and is editing four books, authored or co-authored 13 chapters and has 12 published abstracts, seven home-study courses for physical therapists and one Web-based manuscript.
Manske is also author and editor of one of the most definitive textbooks on shoulder and knee rehabilitation, and has been asked to edit the next editions of two of the most prestigious books in sport rehabilitation. He is frequently invited to speak or to present his research for national peer-reviewed presentations and scientific meetings.
His scholarly performance translates to teaching in ways that have earned him just as many accolades. Through mentoring and advising student-research group projects and participating in multidisciplinary faculty groups studying student success, he has earned his college’s Rodenberg Award for Excellence in Teaching two years running, been a finalist for the Academy for Effective Teaching award and received a Board of Trustees Excellence in Teaching Award early in his WSU career.
“(He) regularly brings his research to the classroom and enriches his teaching with his passion and understanding of the research process as well as its importance to sound physical therapy practice,” Wilson said.
Peter Cohen, dean of health professions, said the college has named him one of four leadership fellows in the college’s Leadership Academy for excelling in all of his activities.
“We are extremely fortunate to have him as a faculty member,” said Cohen.
It’s been a pleasure to know Manske academically, professionally, clinically and personally, said George Davies, a professor of physical therapy at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga., and co-director of the Credential Sports Physical Therapy Residency Program at Gundersen Lutheran Sports Medicine in La Crosse, Wisc. As Manske has furthered his own knowledge and credentials – earning such national clinical certifications as sports clinical specialist, athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist – he has earned the respect of his patients, professional colleagues, physicians and others that he has worked with over the years.
“Physical therapy is a caring ‘hands-on’ profession,” said Davies. Manske has more than demonstrated that empathy and concern for patients, Davies added, and models it consistently for his students and peers.
One of Manske’s campus colleagues, physical therapy professor Ken Pitetti, has collaborated with him on two book chapters and two home study courses. Pitetti is unabashed in his admiration of his colleague.
“The successful people I have had the privilege to meet in my life have one very important characteristic: They absolutely enjoy what they do – they live for it. They have passion for it,” said Pitetti. “For these special people, hard work and dedication come naturally, as night follows day. Dr. Manske has this special quality.”
Wichita State University’s Board of Trustees established the Leadership in the Advancement of Teaching Award in 1982 to recognize exemplary effort and leadership in improvement and learning at WSU. The recipient is awarded $1,000.
Gamal Weheba, associate professor, industrial and manufacturing engineering, College of Engineering
If student success is an indicator, Gamal Weheba is an extremely effective educator.
Consider that in 2005-2006 three graduates successfully completed the Six Sigma Black Belt Certification by the American Society of Quality; 19 students passed the Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Exam in 2006; eight passed the Quality Engineer Certification Exam from 2002-2006; 40 passed the Quality Improvement Associate Certification Exam from 2002-2005; and eight participated on the 2004-2005 board of examiners for the Kansas State Quality Award.
Since joining the faculty in the department of industrial and manufacturing engineering in December 1999, Weheba has taught a full slate of graduate and undergraduate courses each semester, developed four different laboratories, advised five doctoral students and 32 master’s students to the completion of their degrees, and conducted a heavy level of research.
Weheba has co-authored a paper that was published in the International Journal of Engineering Education that addresses how virtual reality can be used to improve teaching effectiveness and address the competency gap throughout the curriculum.
“Primary evidence of Dr. Weheba’s teaching effectiveness comes from his SPTE evaluations,” said S. Hossein Cheraghi, professor and chair of industrial and manufacturing engineering. “Dr. Weheba’s SPTE scores have been consistently very high, the highest score in the department. He should be commended for the relationship he has established with his students in different courses.”
One tool that Weheba established is a mid-semester student perception evaluation survey that provides feedback to instructors so they can initiate changes during the semester.
“A number of our faculty members are taking advantage of this service,” said Cheraghi.
Weheba also is well respected by faculty in other departments in the College of Engineering.
Aerospace engineering professor Walter Horn said, “His teaching excellence is well known within the College of Engineering.”
Weheba received the College of Engineering Polished Professor Award in 2002 and the Dwane and Velma Wallace Outstanding Educator Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003. He was named a Boeing Fellow in 2005.
Horn said: “Dr. Weheba is not single-dimensional in any regard. He and his students have published eight articles in referred journals, 13 articles have been presented at technical conferences and published in the conference proceedings, and he has made significant contributions to two books. He has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator for six successful research grants for more than $900,000.”
M. Edwin Sawan, professor in electrical and computer engineering, said that graduating students speak highly of Weheba.
“Among all engineering courses taken in other departments, Dr. Weheba’s course has consistently ranked first in terms of the students’ perception of its value for their education,” said Sawan. “The vast majority of those students attributed their opinion to Dr. Weheba’s effective teaching.”
In evaluating Weheba, one student wrote, “Amazing professor who understands students’ pulse, helps in and out of the class. Coordination and cooperation with the students is excellent.”
Another student wrote, “His teaching style is very informative and he always relates the course material with real life situations.”
Perhaps the ultimate compliment was expressed by the following student, who wrote: “His way of teaching is really encouraging. He is really amazing in his way of teaching. If I become a teacher someday, he is definitely my model.”
The University of Wichita Board of Regents, now known as the WSU Board of Trustees, established a corpus of $50,000 in 1964 to provide grants to recognize superior teaching through the Excellence in Teaching Award. The recipient is awarded $2,000. The honorees are Jen-Chi Cheng and Deborah Soles.
Jen-Chi Cheng, chairperson and associate professor, economics, W. Frank Barton School of Business
Cheng has had a varied work experience, starting as an instructor at Shepherd College from 1987-1988, then an instructor at Vanderbilt from 1988-1989. He continued his work at Vanderbilt as an assistant professor during the summer from 1990-1991 and again from 1994-1995.
Since 1989, Cheng has been at WSU, starting as assistant professor and then associate professor of economics, a position he holds today. He also has been chair of the department of economics since 1996.
Cheng is active with many economics organizations, including the American Economic Association, Southern Economic Association, Western Economic Association International and the Chinese Economic Association in North America.
He also has served on the executive boards of various national organizations.
Cheng specializes in many areas of economics, including exchange rate forecasting, analysis of business conditions, stock market efficiency, and the impact of interest rate adjustment.
He is the recipient of several Barton School teaching awards and has been published in academic journals such as Applied Economics, Applied Financial Economics, Pacific Economics Review and the Southern Economic Journal.
Cheng has been nominated for an Academy for Effective Teaching Award nine times. Many of his peers and former students believe he is truly deserving of the award.
“Dr. Cheng was very passionate about teaching the course,” one student said. “He made one want to pay attention. Every class period was interesting. He made it fun with his personal stories. He made your mind exercise.”
Another student described him as “a teacher that expresses an extraordinary empathy for his students and combines caring with professional knowledge to make each student perform at his/her best.”
When being nominated in 2007, one student wrote that Cheng worked hard to ensure a good education for each one of his students.
“He is very patient with our questions, and his lecture is always well organized. He deserves this nomination and award for his sincere dedication to doing an excellent job and to our success as students.”
Described by many people as personable and friendly, Cheng is often sought out by master’s students wanting him to be the faculty chair of their research project. That’s because of his reputation as a tough, but fair teacher.
“Professor Cheng has high reasonable expectations, but gives students the tools, resources and confidence to achieve and meet those expectations,” one student wrote.
Cheng has been instrumental in starting a tutorial program for students enrolled in Economics 201, 202 and 231. These are courses that students tend to find difficult.
Other activities Cheng is involved in outside the classroom include serving as faculty adviser for the WSU Asian Student Conference, the WSU Thai Students Association and the Taiwanese Students Association.
His credentials have been recognized through many awards. In 1998, Cheng received the Barton School Instructor of the Year Award and in 2008 the Barton School Graduate Teaching Award. He has also been nominated for the Barton School Teaching Award in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2002.
Bart Hildreth, interim dean of the Barton School, said Cheng is one of WSU’s finest teachers. His awards and nominations in the past reflect a high degree of success in teaching advanced economics courses, Hildreth said.
“Dr. Cheng cares about student success, both as a teacher and as chair of the economics department,” Hildreth said. “His accomplishments are consistent with the attributes of an excellent teacher.”
Deborah Soles, professor, philosophy, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Deborah Soles received her bachelor’s in philosophy from George Washington University in 1969. She then went to Johns Hopkins University, where she earned her master’s in 1973 and Ph.D. in 1975. Her specialization is the philosophy of language and related areas in epistemology and logic.
Soles has been an integral part of Wichita State University’s philosophy department for more than 30 years. She started as an instructor and gradually worked her way up to professor in 1999. Soles also chaired the philosophy department from 1984-1990.
Soles has received a lot of recognition for her work while at Wichita State.
Her awards include Core Course Instructor from the Kansas Regents Honor Society; the President’s Distinguished Service Award; and the J.R. Barrier Distinguished Teaching Award. She also was named a McNair Mentor in 2001 and an Emory Lindquist Honors Mentor in 1990, 1996, 1998 and 1999.
Soles has also had a book published and has written more than a dozen articles for various professional publications.
She is highly regarded at Wichita State by both faculty and students. Jeffrey Hershfield, associate professor of philosophy, said one of Soles’ strengths as a teacher is developing carefully planned and well-conceived classes. Hershfield said he has attended many of her courses and can attest to the fact that they are conducted at the level of a Ph.D. seminar and prepare the philosophy majors for success in prestigious graduate programs.
“It is with firsthand experience that I can say that she has an amazing ability to present very difficult, formal material in a manner that is accessible without distorting or overly simplifying it,” Hershfield said. “She also has an incredible ability to inspire students to engage with the material at a sophisticated level through classroom presentations, group projects and in-class discussions.”
Katherine Bradfield took her first course from Soles 19 years ago and took many more from her while earning her degree at WSU. Bradfield, who is a Ph.D. candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, calls Soles her intellectual and professional mentor. They also remain good friends.
“Debby’s teaching is nothing short of inspiring,” Bradfield said. “She doesn’t merely present material clearly and doesn’t merely guide us toward understanding complicated ideas, nor does she (just) motivate us with straightforward and genuine enthusiasm. She does all of these things, but with passion for philosophy and teaching, and with what she calls her ‘sheer force of will’ that we will do what it takes in order to learn what we need to learn.”
Bradfield said as she moved on from Wichita State, she realized how good her education was under Soles. While at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, the faculty excused her from taking the entire first-year sequence of logic classes because of the knowledge she gained on the subject at WSU.
Hershfield said Soles’ success at the university is “legendary.” Philosophy majors at WSU who have worked closely with Soles have been successful in obtaining admission to top graduate programs and law schools, such as Harvard, Cornell, MIT and Rutgers.
And even at the lower level, it’s common for students to postpone taking the introductory logic course for a semester so they can take it when Soles is teaching it.
Soles, Hershfield said, has instilled in her students an appreciation for learning for the sake of knowledge.
“Deb has dedicated her life and career to her students, and I can think of no one more deserving of this award,” he said.