Each year, faculty members who are held in the highest esteem by colleagues and students are honored with Teaching Excellence Awards. Dr. Mark Cotteleer, associate professor of management; Dr. Sarah Bonewits Feldner, associate professor of communication studies; and Dr. John Moyer, professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science, received the John P. Raynor, S.J., Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence this year. Dr. Rebecca Nowacek, associate professor of English, received the Robert and Mary Gettel Award for Teaching Excellence.
Although the honorees are all accomplished scholars specializing in different disciplines, one thread is consistent throughout – above all, they consider themselves teachers.
Cotteleer, who specializes in supply chain management, says his favorite thing about teaching at Marquette is the students. “Students today work harder at more things and generally face greater pressures than I did as a student at Marquette 25 years ago. It’s incredibly satisfying for me to watch these students leave Marquette and go on to successful careers, as well as to see the kinds of people that they become.”
Cotteleer’s enthusiasm and commitment to teaching have contributed to a nearly 100 percent increase in the number of undergraduate majors in the supply chain management program during the past five years, and have led to a top 20 national program ranking by U.S. News & World Report.
Despite teaching difficult subject matter, Cotteleer is consistently rated by both undergraduate and graduate students as one of the best instructors in the College of Business Administration.
“When I look at the list of my colleagues who have won this award in past years, I’m amazed that I would be considered in the same league as them,” Cotteleer said.
Since arriving on campus in 2002, Feldner has taught 16 different courses in the Diederich College of Communication, including six she developed herself. But Feldner is not just an outstanding professor – she’s also “quintessentially Marquette,” wrote a nominator, who said that Feldner “embraces, extols and lives the mission of this institution more than any faculty member I know.”
“When I look around and see the caliber of teachers at Marquette, it sets the bar high for me and pushes me to always think about ways to better connect with students,” Feldner said. Her success engaging with students on a personal level, even when teaching a 250-person lecture for incoming freshman, was remarked about frequently in her recommendations.
“Knowing students’ stories helps me to develop classes that speak to who they are and who they are becoming, and challenges me to think about how they see their world,” Feldner said. “Marquette students push me to be current and relevant, and because of this my classes are always evolving.”
Since 1974, Moyer has published 45 scholarly pieces focused on teaching and learning, received funding for 76 grants and delivered more than 200 presentations, but says what he finds most enjoyable is “helping students conquer intellectual challenges and influencing their career paths.”
Moyer believes students only learn if they actively construct knowledge for themselves, which is why he has worked to develop a learning environment that emphasizes active and engaged learning strategies, even in a subject area that is not always popular among students – mathematics.
One nominator wrote that he cannot seem to go anywhere without encountering people who point to Moyer as an influential teacher in their lives, many of whom went on to be teachers themselves. “These kind of connections are no mere fluke. They are a testament to the enormous impact that Jack’s career has had on the practice of teaching mathematics throughout southeastern Wisconsin and beyond.”
Throughout the many recommendations written about her by colleagues and former students, one word was consistently used to describe Nowacek – “tireless.” Her enthusiasm and commitment to teaching extend beyond the classroom to her position as director of the Norman H. Ott Memorial Writing Center, and to her involvement with Manresa for Faculty.
Whether she is reading aloud her feedback to students’ personal narratives for her advanced composition class or organizing and attending weekly film screenings for a drama or musical course, Nowacek consistently goes above and beyond to engage every student she teaches, mentors and advises.
“At the center of Dr. Nowacek’s work as a teacher is the notion of guiding students to make connections themselves, to become learners who, in turn, teach and lead others,” a nominator wrote. “She motivates her students to dive deeply into the materials they study, and as a result, they work hard and produce excellent, genuinely original work.”