Mar 282012
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Bum rushing CSU students into a pile of snow is a punishment Brett Kaysen reserves for the most heinous criminals –– those who wear other university’s gear.

“To me, there’s only one university that matters. And that’s this one,” said the animal sciences instructor.

Despite explaining his golden rule to his classroom, one day, a group of about 12 freshmen walked in sporting t-shirts that advertised different schools. And for a second, Kaysen played along. He laughed it off and encouraged the perpetrators to walk downstairs to the entryway of the building they were in, saying that he wanted to take their picture.

But as soon as the students were outside, he and their classmates locked the building’s doors from the inside, leaving the pranksters shivering in their non-CSU t-shirts in the freezing winter weather.

When Kaysen and the other students finally unlocked the doors, they rushed out to tackle them into piles of snow.

“They thought they got the best of me, but in the end, I won,” Kaysen said.

It’s this kind of lighthearted relationship with students that may have been a large part of why he and five other CSU faculty members won this year’s Best Teacher Awards. The university’s alumni association gives out the honor annually after sifting through 100 nominations that students, faculty and alumni submit that details a particular teacher’s excellence in teaching, care for their students and how she or he goes above and beyond to deliver subject matter and impact students.

These are those teachers.

Lumina Albert, Ph.D., Department of Management, College of Business

“I feel that there are many excellent teachers and I am pleasantly surprised that they (the nominators) thought that I made the most impact in their lives,” Albert said.

She has previously been awarded the American Association of University Women Post-Doctoral Fellow Award in 2006-2007 and has had her work published in the “Journal of Business Ethics.” As an assistant professor in the Department of Management, her research is centered on ethical business practices, work-family enrichment, stress management and interpersonal behavior in organizations.

But she’s found ways to talk about the heavy subjects without overwhelming her students, weaving humor in between lessons. Albert was born in India and spends time educating those in her class on how the nation’s culture is different from American customs.

In India, for example, British English is spoken. Albert puts it differently.

“While I speak English, they speak American,” she said, laughing.

Eric Aoki, Ph.D., Department of Communication Studies, College of Liberal Arts

“ … When I got the news, I immediately had a visual reel in my mind of many former students who gifted me so many valuable and insightful lessons about how to improve and enhance my role as a teacher,” Aoki said in an email to the Collegian.

The associate professor teaches interpersonal, co-cultural and intercultural communication and to a great degree of success. In addition to receiving a 2012 Best Teacher Award, he has also been given the 2009 Multi-Ethnic Faculty Distinguished Service Award.

Not only that, but he does oil paintings, too and boasts the ability to “stay outside all day by the pool and read a huge stack of magazines front to back” in the summertime.

“Sometimes I’ll even hang out at the park on the weekend and lay out on a blanket, bring a delicious giant sandwich, a backpack full of magazines, and just read, read, read!” Aoki said.

Molly Eckman, Ph.D., Department of Design and Merchandising, College of Applied Human Sciences

“ … When I left industry to attend graduate school with the goal of teaching at a university, my main focus was to contribute to the preparation of students who will take leadership positions in the industry I love and at the same time enjoy their careers as much as I have,” Eckman said in an email to the Collegian. “The thought that I may have succeeded in that goal even just a little bit is extremely rewarding.”

Eckman, who teaches courses on international retailing, retail math, textile and apparel economics and trade and social responsibility in global apparel supply chains, spent 10 years in corporate retailing before studying to be a professor.

Her work has taken her to places like Turkey, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Thailand and Uzbekistan, where she undoubtedly misses her favorite ice cream brand, Graeter’s.

“ … which is made in my hometown of Cincinnati Ohio,” she said. “The best ever! One of the many advantages of living in Fort Collins is that they sell Graeter’s ice cream in King Soopers!”

Sven Egenhoff, Ph.D., Department of Geosciences, Warner College of Natural Resources

“Sven has the ability to show encouragement, constructive criticism, and positive reinforcement all at the same time,” wrote Allison Mast, a CSU senior geology major, in nominating the associate professor for the award.

Egenhoff’s arrival at CSU was a long time coming. He was born in Germany and raised there, as well as Iran and Argentina. Later, he returned to Germany to attend Heidelberg University to receive his master’s degree and then studied at Technishe Universität in Berlin for his doctorate.

His areas of expertise include understanding the sedimentary processes in carbonates and shales, applying depositional models to characterize oil and gas reservoirs and to reconstruct fossil habitats of long extinct animal groups.

Egenhoff could not be reached by time of print.

Brett Kaysen, M.Agr., Department of Animal Science, College of Agricultural Sciences

“In terms of all the awards that I’ve received as I was a youth, this is the most humbling and coolest award that I have been given,” Kaysen said. “ … I’m not much of an awards guy. I try to stay out of that realm. But this is a big deal to me. Yeah, it’s cool. Way cool.”

The animal sciences instructor teaches mostly undergraduate students, as well as a 200 level livestock practicum course and a senior level capstone course on swine systems.

“Probably where I’m unique versus some is that my teaching is not just in the classroom,” he said. “A lot of the courses I teach are very applied courses.”

It’s a practice that draws similarities to his teaching philosophy.

“The way I view teaching is any way that you can help an undergraduate succeed. And I don’t think that ends with a 50-minute lecture. I think that that helped me become one of the best in 2012,” he said.

Jared Orsi, Ph.D., Department of History, College of Liberal Arts

Orsi’s reaction to being named one of the best CSU teachers of 2012 came in stages.

“First was surprise. Second was a really deep gratitude toward my students who nominated me. What I’m going through right now is, everyone’s making such a big deal out of it,” he said. “It’s really cool. It’s not just, ‘Oh I read the email and now it’s over.’”

The associate professor specializes in environmental and borderlands history. Orsi’s favorite course to teach takes place during the summer, during which he and students spend a week following Zebulon Pike’s 1806-1807 route across Colorado.

Some trips are more eventful than others.

“At the end of the course, the last day, we were in a museum, and the students when I wasn’t looking –– I don’t know how they did this –– went into the gift shop and bought me kind of a funny Zebulon Pike t-shirt,” he said, recalling a particularly joyful year course session. “ … It’s gone from something that I wear … occasionally to class when I’m lecturing on Zebulon Pike, to something that I only wear on the weekends to something I only wear when I’m doing yard work, so it’s been well-worn.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Who were CSU’s best teachers of 2012?

Lumina Albert, Ph.D., Department of Management, College of Business
Eric Aoki, Ph.D., Department of Communication Studies, College of Liberal Arts
Molly Eckman, Ph.D., Department of Design and Merchandising, College of Applied Human Sciences
Sven Egenhoff, Ph.D., Department of Geosciences, Warner College of Natural Resources
Brett Kaysen, M.Agr., Department of Animal Science, College of Agricultural Sciences
Jared Orsi, Ph.D., Department of History, College of Liberal Arts

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