Excellence in Teaching Award Winners 2011-2012

​--> Learn more about the CMU Excellence​ in Teaching Award process

Dr. William Wandless has been an assistant professor in English Language and Literatures at CMU since 2006.  He has published in the top journals in his field and serves as a consulting editor for Eighteenth Century Studies.  He continues to build on his own accomplishments as a writer.

Dr. Wandless is an especially imaginative teacher, always trying new things in the classroom to keep students engaged.  He uses debates, mock trials, poster presentations, film clips, and other tools to keep students on their toes.

In his teaching philosophy, Dr. Wandless states: “I urge students to take ownership of their learning experience, offering them open-topic writing assignments that let them pursue subjects that stir their passion.”

One of his peers wrote: “He takes the time to clarify concepts and define terms as he goes and he has a knack for making material memorable” and “When students see his love of literature in action, and when they see how their own efforts in the classroom energize him, it’s hard for them not to catch the same fever.”  Also, “Most importantly, he lets all of his students witness the joy and satisfaction that comes with being a teacher, scholar, writer, and even an administrator.”  “…His sense of humor gives them a glimpse of how robust and rewarding his profession can be.  I can’t think of a better kind of role model.”

Dr. Jeffrey Angera is a professor in the Human Environmental Studies Department, where his focus is Human Development and Family Studies.   In addition to his exceptional teaching, Dr. Angera devotes significant time and effort advising his students and immersing them in service learning experiences including a yearly trip to Mexico where he leads a team of students who work with orphaned children.

Dr. Angera’s ability to develop students’ critical thinking skills using “think-pair-share’ activities reflect the creativity, passion, enthusiasm and vision that students, alumnus and peers have experienced.  One student stated:  “This candidate is a personal role model for me through his passion, work ethic, personal values and professional demeanor.”   Another noted: “He has the ability to focus on whoever he is talking to which allows him to really mentor students because he really listens.”

Colleagues echoed the impact he has on his students: “In many cases he uses real world events as stimulus for discussion.   Students are able to have a greater sense of buy-in with the activities because they are relevant to their lives.” One peer spoke of what makes him an excellent educator: “I find his enthusiasm to be infectious. I believe this is one of the reasons he is able to generate so much dialogue in his courses as students feed off his enthusiasm.”

It is evident that Dr. Angera has made a dramatic long lasting impression on his students and colleagues.

Dr. Krzysztof Kulawik’s students praise his ability to create a positive learning environment that they describe as relaxed, yet mutually respectful. One student states: “The quality and excellence distinguish his teaching and he motivates students to take on the same characteristics in their academic and personal lives.”  They continue: “He smiles, laughs, there is a great melody to his voice. He was totally engaging in the classroom and provided us with a wealth of knowledge!”  Students also addressed Dr. Kulawik’s high level of commitment: “His passion for teaching is evident through his relentless efforts to provide students with the maximum quality of education possible.”

Dr. Kulawik himself states, “I am passionate about teaching; about exchanging knowledge and different perspectives with students, sharing my life experiences and motivating others to explore the world and the wisdom of its many cultures.”

His peers also recognize this dedication: “He loves teaching, seeing how students become more open-minded to other cultures and global in their perspective. He also loves learning – and that combination comes to life in his classroom. His teaching is pedagogically conducive blend of a relaxed, friendly class atmosphere combined with his energetic, information-filled presentation of new material, and his efforts to get all students involved.”

Dr. Kulawik speaks five languages and is an exceptional inspiration to both students and peers alike.

One of Dr. Lana Ivanitskaya’s former students described the impact this professor had on her life, “Since my graduation nearly five years ago… I still routinely seek her out for guidance. I firmly believe that her support and guidance led directly to my decision to pursue a doctorate and sparked my passion for health-related research.”

Another student writes, “This candidate excels in her ability to stimulate the student’s mind. She challenges the student to think, to reach beyond themselves for answers, and demystifies hard concepts by drawing from everyday examples the student can understand.” Additional comments center on Dr. Ivanitskaya’s skill engaging students: “She is an amazing educator whose sense of humor and ability to make any subject matter interesting deserves recognition!”

In reference to online teaching, a peer writes, “this instructor has a knack for online education. Since all coursework needs to be delivered and conducted online, she does an excellent job of making the materials easy to find and use.  Dr. Ivanitskaya is very hands-on and approachable from afar; I know she goes beyond the call of duty…” Another colleague stated, “Dr. Ivanitskaya is one of the most articulate and engaging professors with whom I have worked. She is able to ​reach individuals by her love of the material. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and I always try to find a way to teach with her because of it.”

Dr. Mark Cwiek has been a professor in the School of Health Sciences at CMU since 1998.  He brings to his teaching a wealth of operational knowledge and experience in the subject matter having worked in an array of positions in the career field from the entry level to CEO of a large organization prior to coming to CMU.

He excels at demonstrating the practical application of knowledge to actionable items and decision-making.  He regularly brings in guest speakers and connects students with individuals in the field who can provide guidance and mentorship in a specific area.  A peer states: “Mark demonstrates a genuine and sincere enthusiasm for the subject matter and the career field by sharing the professional and personal enjoyment and sense of fulfillment experienced when serving as a practitioner before becoming an educator.”

A student adds: “This form of teaching is effective as students in the classroom can relate and learn the ‘rights and wrongs’ of the field as well as begin to decide which path within the field they would like to take.”  Dr. Cwiek has recently developed an international course that gives students a chance to learn about global health and visit several European countries.  He continues his research in his area of expertise and continues to maintain close, professional connections in his field.​​