Dr. Dennis Brylow
Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Sciences
Dr. Dennis Brylow's love of teaching stems from a love of teachers. In fact, the 2016 Teaching Excellence Award Winner's work is centered largely on teaching teachers—more than 400 elementary school teachers over the past two years have attended his workshops on teaching computer science in grades K-5.
Brylow joined the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science in the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences in 2005. Since then, he has taught courses across the undergraduate curriculum, with an emphasis on team projects that connect the principles of computer science with the practice of software engineering.
Through a three-year National Science Foundation grant, Brylow recently has been working to double the number of teachers who teach computer science and coding in Wisconsin high schools.
Former Teaching Excellence Award winner Dr. John Moyer wrote of Brylow: "Dennis Brylow [demonstrates] a strong desire and uncanny ability to seamlessly blend his teaching, research and service into an integrated pursuit of instructional excellence. He is an inspiring and visionary teacher/researcher who works tirelessly to improve student outcomes, and to make our department, our university, and our state leaders in computer science and computer science education more effective."
"I owe so much to the great teachers who helped to set me on this path, from grade school through grad school, and including faculty mentors here at Marquette," Brylow says. "I've tried to emulate the best qualities of those teachers I've encountered, and to be singled out for this award by my students and colleagues is a truly exceptional honor."
Dr. Amy Van Hecke
Department of Psychology (Gettel Award)
Dr. Amy Vaughan Van Hecke may be the recipient of a 2016 Teaching Excellence Award, but she says she learns just as much from her undergraduate and graduate students—something for which she is quite thankful.
A developmental psychologist, Van Hecke is an associate professor of psychology in the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences and the director of the Marquette Autism Clinic and PEERS Project. She teaches child development at the graduate and undergraduate levels, statistics at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and a cross-disciplinary, team-taught course on autism at the undergraduate level.
In his nomination letter, Dr. Ed de St. Aubin, associate professor and assistant chair of psychology wrote: "Amy represents all that we hope for in a scholar/practitioner/teacher working within a Jesuit context, with its emphasis on Ignatian pedagogy, cura personalis and reaching out to those who struggle at the margins of our society. She is the epitome of what Marquette hopes for in a faculty member.
Former students cited Van Hecke's "knowledge, compassion, dedication and passion" as winning and inspirational attributes.
"It is my goal to teach and mentor students in the same way I was mentored as a student," Van Hecke says. "I feel I have succeeded when the students I teach go out into their communities and serve as men and women for others.
"I am so honored to receive this award, and I am grateful to my family, and to the students and colleagues that have taught me and grown with me over the years," she adds.
Mrs. Cindy Gruber
Department of Accounting
Building relationships with students based on mutual respect, trust and genuine concern is the cornerstone of Cindy Gruber's teaching philosophy—a philosophy that has earned her a 2016 Teaching Excellence Award.
Gruber, who spent several years working in both public and private accounting, joined Marquette University in 2000 after earning her MBA. She teaches financial and managerial accounting, as well as income tax courses, in the College of Business Administration. A CPA since 1991, she also teaches courses for Pricewaterhouse Coopers, which she has been doing since 2010.
Professor and Bell Chair in Real Estate Dr. Mark Eppli shares a shining of example of why Gruber deserves this award: "Each year at graduation, the College of Business Administration has a reception for graduating students, and as interim Keyes Dean I would welcome students and their families, asking the students, 'Who was your favorite faculty member during your time at Marquette?' And in each of the three years that I served as interim dean, the faculty member who received the greatest number of responses was Cindy Gruber."
"During my 38 years at Marquette, I can't remember a single faculty member from our college who has received as much praise from our students as Cindy Gruber," wrote colleague Dr. Don Giacomino, professor and Flynn Chair in Accounting.
"Being recognized by my colleagues for something that I love to do is a privilege and an honor," Gruber says. "I'm blessed to be part of the Marquette community and to make a small difference in the lives of our students."
Dr. Paul Gasser
Department of Biomedical Sciences
For Dr. Paul Gasser, associate professor of biomedical sciences, curiosity was the impetus for his early interest in science. The 2016 Teaching Excellence Award winner says his goal is awaken this curiosity and excitement in his students, particularly those in his bread-and-butter undergraduate biochemistry courses.
Gasser, who joined Marquette in 2007 after completing post-doctoral training at the Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience & Endocrinology at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, has already been recognized for his teaching excellence by his peers—he was a 2011 recipient of the Edward Carroll Teaching Award from the College of Health Sciences.
In a nomination letter for the award, Dr. John Mantsch, chair and professor of biomedical sciences, wrote: "I have seen firsthand Paul's life-long commitment to education and his outstanding contributions to Marquette University in the areas of teaching and student mentorship. He is considered to be one of our best teachers."
A former student agrees. "In the same way that Dr. Gasser warmed up the frigid topic of biochemistry in the classroom, he has enlightened my approach to science as a passion and a career," he wrote.
Gasser says he's thankful for and humbled by the recognition.
"Anyone who teaches puts in a huge amount of time and effort, and hopes that these efforts are effective and appreciated," he says. "So receiving an award like this is a big validation that all the effort did not go unnoticed.