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Outstanding teachers of the year recognized by CAS

October 19, 2007

UW-River Falls faculty members Brad Caskey, Morgan Clifford and Karen Klyczek have left such a positive impression on their former students that they are being recognized for it by the University.

All three were named the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teachers of the Year for 2007. Each professor represents a division within the College: Professor of Psychology Caskey is the behavioral/social science recipient, Professor of Art Clifford is the humanities and fine arts recipient and Professor of Biology Klyczek is the sciences and mathematics recipient. The award includes a travel stipend of $250 from the UWRF Foundation and a certificate of appreciation. Ballots were sent to UWRF alumni from the classes of 2003 and 2005.

CAS Dean Terry Brown commended the three honorees.

“The faculty who have been named Outstanding Teachers in the College of Arts and Sciences are inspirations to their students and their colleagues,” she said.

“Each of these teachers has demonstrated through the years that he or she
is dedicated to helping students learn.”

For Caskey and Klyczek, that dedication has resulted in repeated recognition. Both are receiving Outstanding Teacher of the Year honors for the second time in their UWRF careers.

Caskey, who received his first award in 1996, said that he was “rather shocked” to hear that he had been acknowledged. Having assumed CAS associate dean duties in 2004, the psychology professor said he felt that his reduced teaching load would affect his odds.

“I just thought that my chances might be diminished,” he said. “I never thought it would come back a second time.”

Klyczek, who was also honored in 1995, said receiving the award is particularly meaningful to her because former students did the choosing.

“That really makes it special that alumni remember that you had an impact,” the biology department chair said. “It’s hard to tell in class sometimes if you’re making an impact.”

For first-time recipient Clifford, the surprise was of a different sort.

“I kept telling the dean [of CAS] that I was amazed,” Clifford said.  “I’m sometimes unpopular because I’m a demanding professor.  I do have many students that do beautifuly and are woderful to have in the classroom.”

Despite the surprise, Caskey said he feels that his “passion, knowledge and humor” are what make him memorable to students.

“I am excited every day I’m in class,” he said. “I’ve never not looked forward to going to class every day, and I think students know that.”

Klyczek said she feels that her strong interest in the virology and immunology subject matter she teaches is evident to her students.

“I really love the topics that I teach,” she said. “I enjoy what I’m doing.”

Bee Vang, a psychology and international studies senior, has taken classes with Caskey and Klyczek and had words of praise for both teachers.

She said she liked Caskey’s approach in the classroom.

“I’m sure he deserved [the honor],” she said. “He is a good teacher, and he likes to engage his students.”

Vang took Klyczek for her senior science capstone course and said she was impressed by the biology professor’s teaching style.

“I think she’s very organized, and she allows students to pursue their interests,” she said.

For Caskey, receiving Outstanding Teacher of the Year accolades shows him that he’s doing something right in his educational approach.

“I see myself as a pretty good teacher,” Caskey said. “It’s always humbling to be honored for something you love.”