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University of Iowa News Release

March 31, 2004

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Three UI Professors Win New Award For Teaching Excellence

Three University of Iowa faculty members have won a new award in recognition of their years of outstanding teaching. The recipients of the first-annual President and Provost Award For Teaching Excellence are Peter Densen, professor and interim head of the department of internal medicine in the UI Carver College of Medicine; Michael Finkelstein, professor of oral pathology, radiology and medicine in the UI College of Dentistry; and Teresa Mangum, associate professor of English in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and interim Associate Dean for International Programs.

The award, which is administered by the Council on Teaching, was created this year as a university-wide recognition for faculty members who have demonstrated a sustained high level of teaching. Each college was asked to nominate one faculty member for the award, which carries a $3,000 prize. Nominees prepared a statement of their teaching philosophy to submit along with a CV highlighting teaching activities and letters of endorsement from current and former students and colleagues.

The Council on Teaching selected the three winners from the pool of nominees.

Densen has taught in the UI College of Medicine since 1983 and served as associate dean for student affairs and curriculum from 1992 to 2001. He received the university's Collegiate Teaching Award in 1991 and has won 10 Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Carver College of Medicine. Beginning in the late 1980s and continuing through 1994, he led the first thorough review of the medical curriculum to be completed in 25 years. A major feature of the new curriculum was enhanced contact between faculty and students in the form of case-based learning as well as integration of material between courses throughout the curriculum. While working with the team designing the new Medical Education and Biomedical Research Facility, Densen introduced the concept of "Learning Communities," which group together students who are at different points in their medical education to encourage peer-to-peer learning and to emphasize connection, excellence, learning, leadership and service. Colleagues and current and former students cite Densen's intellectual rigor and enthusiastic approach to teaching, his leadership by example, and his ability to stimulate students to want to learn and grow.

Finkelstein has taught in the UI College of Dentistry since 1982 and holds the only endowed professorship for teaching in the college. He received the university's Collegiate Teaching Award in 1989 and 1993, and dental students have chosen him as their Teacher of the Year more than 30 times, the most awards accumulated by a single professor in the college. Finkelstein has been the driving force behind updating the dental curriculum to include problem-based learning and case-based learning, part of his commitment to helping students develop skills useful in solving real-life problems and analyzing new information. Colleagues and current and former students cite Finkelstein's "willingness to try new approaches" that he believes will benefit students, his "exemplary dedication to students," and his "uncanny ability to relate a very difficult subject to students on a level that is informative, understandable and often times funny." One faculty colleague summed up the views of many when he wrote, "Dr. Finkelstein is the educator we all wish we had seen as students and the educator we all wish we could become."

Mangum has taught in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 1990 and won the university's Collegiate Teaching Award in 1994. She had previously won a teaching award at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while still a graduate student. Her efforts have led to substantial changes and improvements in both undergraduate and graduate programs in English. She led the revision of the English major and improvements in the department's advising system for undergraduates, and she designed an Introduction to Graduate Studies course and a comprehensive graduate placement program. Colleagues and current and former students cite Mangum's "great skill in the practicalities of classroom conduct," her "innovative course design," and her "pragmatic professionalism," which allows her to communicate to both student and colleagues the "real world" applications and implications of the topic at hand. One former student articulated the views of several when she said, "her classroom was one of the most stimulating and productive academic experiences I have ever had."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, Program: Gene Parkin, chairman of the Council on Teaching, 319-335-5655,