University at Albany

Excellence in Teaching (Part Time)

Each year, the University at Albany honors special members of its community with Excellence Awards denoting exceptional contributions to the life of the campus. Two faculty members received this tribute in 2012 for Excellence in Teaching (Part Time).

Laura Wittern-KellerLaura Wittern-KellerHistory

This award usually goes to folks who teach for us on a part-time basis. But today we have made an exception for a person of whom we see a LOT in the classroom and on campus. We don’t have a category of the excellence in teaching award for a
“dedicated — and — loyal — mentor — teacher — advisor — who —performs — excellently — as — an — indispensable — part — of — ou r— curriculum — but — is — neither — a — tenure — track — faculty — member — nor — a — part — time — faculty — member” .

But we did want to honor this gifted teacher.

Laura Wittern-Keller has taught in the History department as a full-time lecturer since 2007. She has offered 9 different courses, regularly teaches 100-level survey courses, 300-level majors courses and graduate classes. Observers of her classes comment that she uses a wide variety of strategies to reach her students: lectures; clicker technology used to get students to think more deeply; videos and historical documents to provide the ‘flavor’ of history and how it has been represented over time; and discussion groups where students pose and present answers to questions in order to master the material. She makes it look easy to teach large classes, effortlessly generating engaging discussions even in large lectures and communicating her infectious enthusiasm for her subject. Students and peers note her seriousness of purpose and sharp intellect which inspire them to reach higher than they would on their own: she inspires students to do extra readings, in addition to what is assigned because they want to learn more about the topics addressed in class! One of her peers—a Chancellors Excellence in Teaching Award winner no less—comments: “With her around, I feel obligated to step up my game to at least meet the standards she has established for teaching.” She challenges and prepares her graduate students well, resulting in many of them presenting work at academic conferences. She has a deep influence on students who go on to have their own teaching careers, serving as a model, a mentor, and a touchstone to future generations of teachers whom she has inspired with a love of history.

Excellence in Teaching (Part Time)

Laura Wittern-Keller Janice Pata
Laura Wittern-Keller
Janice Pata
Biomedical Science

Students participate in more than 200 student clubs and honor societies, and enjoy a busy calendar of campus events.