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Regents honor UW-Green Bay’s Gurung as top teacher

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The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents announced today it would honor UW-Green Bay Prof. Regan A.R. Gurung for his outstanding career achievements in teaching with presentation of the 2011 Regents Teaching Excellence Award.

Prof. Regan A.R. Gurung

Prof. Regan A.R. Gurung

Gurung will be in good company as one of two professors along with one academic program to be recognized June 10 at the Board of Regents meeting in Milwaukee. Also receiving statewide honors from UW-Green Bay will be the Professional Program in Education, selected the year’s top academic department. (See related news release.) The other individual honoree is Prof. Craig Berg, a specialist in curriculum and instruction at UW-Milwaukee.

“These outstanding educators demonstrate extraordinary dedication and innovation in their teaching, and serve as exemplary role models for their colleagues and students,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “Our students are fortunate to have faculty and staff of this caliber.”

Gurung is UW-Green Bay’s distinguished Ben J. and Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Human Development and Psychology.

He arrived in Green Bay in 1999 and gained prominence almost immediately as one of the University’s most-honored and widely published faculty members. He has earned a series of prestigious awards at the campus, state and national levels.

He is a past recipient of the UW-Green Bay Founders Association Award for Excellence in Teaching (2004) as well as the Award for Excellence in Scholarship (2007). In Gurung’s nomination materials for the Regents award, a colleague notes, “Students gush about how much they learn in his classes and how that learning changes their lives.”

In 2009 Gurung was selected Wisconsin Professor of the Year by the national Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The program recognizes top undergraduate teachers in each of the 50 states who excel as educators and influence their students.

The following year, UW-Green Bay awarded him a five-year term as Rosenberg Professor in recognition of his track record as a researcher, instructor and nationally prominent leader in modeling best practices in college teaching. Additionally, he was elected by his national peers to serve as 2011 president of the National Society for the Teaching of Psychology.

Gurung is appreciated by students for knowing each of them by name, even in classes held in large lecture halls. He also is highly involved in independent projects with students and provides a number of opportunities for student research. Some of these efforts have led to undergraduate student presentations at regional and national conferences.

Author of the textbook Health Psychology: A Cultural Approach, Gurung has received numerous grants for his research on cultural differences in stress, social support, and smoking cessation, body image and impression formation.

His latest inquiry involves social media and learning. Although networking sites have been shown to increase brain activity, and boost self-esteem and interest in reading among students, he says, educators must adapt the technology to advance course topics and complement classroom learning, without aggravating sensory overload.

It is Gurung’s belief that class Facebook pages can be an effective tool for keeping students engaged in relatively large introductory courses. “Meeting students where they live, at all hours of the day and night, should allow them to apply what they are learning in real time,” he says.

Gurung is at the forefront of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) research on campus, and he co-directs the University’s Teaching Scholars program, which works with newer and tenured faculty in a coordinated effort to improve teaching. He has also served on the UW System Office of Professional and Instructional Development Executive Committee, working to improve teaching across the UW System.

Gurung (his full name is pronounced REE-gan Guh-RUNG) is a native of Bombay, India. He earned a bachelor’s in psychology at Carleton College (Minn.) and went on to receive a master’s and Ph.D. in social and personality psychology at the University of Washington before spending three years at UCLA as a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research fellow.

In addition to his extensive professional experience, Gurung is an active community volunteer in the Green Bay area. He is past president of the Bay Area Community Council, a member of the Howe Family Resource Center Board of Directors, LIFE Study advisory board and the Brown County Kids Count Initiative. In the past, has has served on the American Cancer Society Brown County Leadership Council, the Tobacco-Free Coalition and the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Wellness Committee.

Criteria for the Regents teaching awards included strong commitment to teaching and learning; use of effective teaching strategies to enhance student learning; and significant impact on students’ intellectual development.

Regent Betty Womack, chair of the selection committee, commented, “My fellow committee members and I were deeply inspired by the creative energy and passion for their craft that these gifted teachers share with their students, their colleagues, the campus community, and beyond. We are thrilled with the depth and breadth of talent found at our campuses, as reflected in this year’s winners.”

Each recipient will receive a $5,000 stipend to be used for professional development.

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