Alumni Faculty Excellence Awards honor achievements in teaching and research

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For more than 50 years, the University of Connecticut Alumni Faculty Excellence Awards have served as an opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions and achievements of the university’s faculty members to the institution, its current and former students, and their respective areas of the academic discipline.

The UConn Foundation and Office of the Provost are pleased to announce the recipients of these awards for 2022 and 2021. They will each receive $500 and will be recognized together at a celebration in Fall 2022.

“The Alumni Faculty Excellence Awards are a strong tradition at UConn, honoring dozens of our most exceptional faculty for their research and teaching over multiple decades. I am pleased to congratulate the recent recipients of this enduring award,” said Montique “Mo” Cotton Kelly, UConn Foundation senior vice president for stakeholder engagement and chief operating officer.

Bachelor’s Apprenticeship

  • Jason Courtmanche (2022)
  • Kevin McEvoy (2021)

Jason Courtmanche is Assistant Professor in Residence and Assistant Coordinator of Early College Education in the Department of English, and Director of the Connecticut Writing Project. In his role as Assistant Coordinator, he works closely with current teachers who offer first-year writing classes to motivate future huskies. He typically visits at least 15 schools for classroom observation and teaches workshops at one or two Early College Experience (English) conferences per year. In addition, as an associate faculty member at the Neag School of Education, he advises prospective English teachers and interviews students seeking admission to the IB/M and TCPCG degrees. Courtmanche accompanies students every step of the way as they enter, through and through college. His passion for student success is evident in his commitment to nurturing strong learners and future leaders.

Kevin McEvoy is an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Department of Marketing at the School of Business. Before joining UConn full-time in 2004, McEvoy was a marketing executive whose experience he draws on to educate his students about the professional realities of the field. Colleagues noted his passion for teaching, often using a variety of tools to enhance the teaching experience. This includes interactive and persuasive audio, visual and online materials; Creation of a learning tool called The Personal Toolbox, a method for self-directed learning and retention; and regular in-class presentations by industry experts as guest speakers. He has received several awards for his teaching and regularly receives SET values ​​that are well above average in his department, the Faculty of Economics and the University.

Graduate Teaching

  • Ann-Marie Garran (2022)
  • Hans Damm (2021)

Ann Marie Garran is a lecturer in the Department of Social Work. She became director of the Masters in Social Work (MSW) program in 2016, where she has been instrumental in promoting new policies, programs and initiatives for MSW students. Her research on the intersectionality of power, privilege, and oppression as it relates to social work education is highlighted in the courses she teaches. One such class that students praise for its eloquent and thoughtful delivery is their Human Oppression class, which can be tough at times but is important nonetheless. dr Garran carefully crafts engaging and effective learning experiences for students in her classroom, even as she speaks about some of the most harrowing subjects. Her students see her as someone who is responsive, patient, and thorough in her commitment to her teaching and the community she builds.

Hans Damm is a professor of marine sciences. He has helped shape the next generation of oceanographers through formal courses, research mentors and professional development at the regional, national and international levels. Dam has served as principal advisor to 21 graduate students at UConn and has published 58 peer-reviewed articles with his students, averaging more than two a year since his first advisor at UConn. He has taught a number of key graduate courses in the marine sciences, including over 20 years of team teaching Biological Oceanography, a core compulsory graduate course. One of his most enduring contributions to graduate marine science education is the establishment of the biannual Feng Research Colloquium, established more than 25 years ago as part of an NSF CAREER Award. The colloquium honors Sung Yen Feng, the founding head of marine sciences, and encourages all graduate students of the department to participate to submit an abstract and present an oral or a poster to give them important experiences in presenting in professional settings. Dam has also directed the department’s undergraduate professional development program.

Research & Creativity (Natural Sciences)

  • Thomas Blum (2022)
  • David Wagner (2021)

Thomas Blüm joined UConn in 2004 and is Professor and Associate Head of Undergraduate Education in the Department of Physics. A theoretical physicist, Blum specializes in performing difficult, detailed mathematical calculations on how fundamental theories of physics such as quantum mechanics determine the properties and behavior of matter, in his case the smallest known particles. In particular, Blum is able to perform calculations that others have thought impossible. He has held guest professorships at the KEK in Japan, at CERN in Switzerland and at the Helmholtz Institute in Germany. He has also won research awards, including an Outstanding Junior Investigator Award from the US Department of Energy, the Ken Wilson Award (the highest honor in his field), is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and has been named a Fermilab Distinguished Scholar. At the same time, he is also a dedicated mentor who supports the development of junior colleagues, undergraduate and postgraduate students.

David Wagner is a professor at the Institute for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He is an internationally recognized leader in the study of biodiversity, evolution and conservation of insects, particularly Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). Since joining UConn in 1988, he and his extensive group of students and international colleagues have had a tremendous impact on books. His book Caterpillars of Eastern North America (Princeton University Press, 2005) won a national book award and is in its 10th edition. Wagner has also engaged in several activities to expand the reach of his research and that of his colleagues beyond the university. This includes frequent appearances in radio and television interviews, including national and local NPR appearances. He has also expanded commitment to biodiversity and the environment, organized camps for middle school children in East Hartford and Hartford, and as a university senator, led a multi-year effort to add environmental literacy to UConn’s overall educational requirements. That spring, Wagner was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.

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