UH faculty honored for excellence in undergraduate teaching

University of Hawaiʻi
Mia Noguchi, (808) 956-9095
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Jul 9, 2008

HONOLULU — The University of Hawaiʻi has selected five faculty members from campuses across the university system as the recipients of the 2008 Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In memory of the late Frances Davis who taught mathematics at Leeward CC and UH Mānoa for 19 years, the award recognizes UH faculty members who demonstrate outstanding dedication and excellence as teachers of undergraduate students.

TODD BELT is an associate professor of political science at UH Hilo. He is regarded as an inspiring, dedicated teacher and an exceptional instructor. "His innovative pedagogical methods, including group work and service learning, have consistently generated high evaluations from his students," noted a colleague. "He has involved students in research, listed them as co-author on conference papers and arranged for students to attend academic conferences." Belt also serves as advisor to the Political Science Club and coordinator of the Internship Program.

KIMO CHUN, an instructor in the Native Hawaiian Education Program at Kauaʻi Community College, sees his philosophy embodied in a simple 'olelo no'eau (wise saying): I ha'aheo no ka lawaiʻa i ka lako i ka 'upena - "The fisherman may well be proud when well supplied with nets." In other words, "good tools help the worker to succeed." His goal as an educator is to provide students with experiences that allow them to grow. These experiences reflect on the questions, "How do we find our place in this world?" and "What are the tools that I possess or have the potential of possessing?" Chun tries to empower students to believe in themselves and provide them with tools for a successful life. "I am committed," he says, "to developing respectable leaders in our community." He believes that "teaching is leading and leading is teaching, and the two are inextricably connected." His students laud his "dedication, pride and boundless Aloha spirit."

MICHAEL DEMATTOS is an educational specialist in the School of Social Work at UH Mānoa. He was hired exclusively to teach in the Bachelor of Social Work Program where the fundamental mission is to produce BSW‘s, who upon graduation are ready to join the work force. DeMattos has made an outstanding impact on the program by helping students to develop levels of personal awareness and insight that enable them to approach their learning in a more meaningful way. His vibrancy and creativity transfer to the classroom in ways that make his lessons exciting, informative, fun, and perhaps most importantly, memorable. A non-traditional and neighbor-island student wrote, "DeMattos quickly turned my insecurities around. Through his strength-based teaching style, he taught me how to focus on what was attainable."

MATTHEW SAVAGE, a graduate teaching assistant in speech at UH Mānoa, has a clear passion for teaching in the college classroom. His subject mastery and scholarship are superior. He has taught sections of Effective Public Speaking and served as TA for Research Method and a lecturer for Personal and Public Speech. He is the top student in the department‘s graduate program, being awarded this semester as the Outstanding Graduate Student in Speech. A student observed, "Students respect him for his knowledge of communication principles and his ability to present information in an understandable and interesting way." Savage is to graduate this spring and will join the Ph.D. program at Arizona State University, one of the top ranked communication programs in the country.

TERESA SHURILLA is an instructor in the culinary department at Maui Community College. Shurilla has demonstrated excellence in her field on numerous occasions, ranging from the artisan breads to the sugar showpieces. She provides a supportive, friendly lab environment through her warm personality, while maintaining a clean, highly professional classroom setting. Shurilla instructs her students using a variety of techniques, including innovative "hands on" learning experiences that expand student attainment of program competencies. Practical assignments involving sugar centerpieces, chocolate show pieces, holiday dessert items and wedding cakes portray evidence of Shurilla‘s unique teaching abilities that inspire students to achieve their fullest potential. "She is most definitely an asset to the Culinary Arts Program and to Maui Community College," a colleague noted.

These five individuals will be recognized for their achievements along with other UH award recipients at the annual Convocation ceremony to be held September 9, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. at Kennedy Theatre on the UH Mānoa campus. The ceremony is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are needed.