Thirteen UH faculty receive Regents' Medal for Excellence in Teaching

University of Hawaiʻi
Kymber-Lee S Char, (808) 956-9437
Public Information Officer, External Affairs and University Relations
Posted: Aug 31, 2009

HONOLULU – Thirteen University of Hawaiʻi faculty members have been selected as recipients of the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching.  This award recognizes faculty who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values beneficial to students.
David L. Callies is a professor in the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa.  A preeminent scholar, teacher and leader in the legal academy, he is the author or co-author of 17 books, 75 articles and numerous legal education publications, papers and presentations. Callies is a demanding and uncompromisingly energetic teacher.  He often talks about the fantastic potential UH law students have and how to make the most of their experiences at the school.  Despite his busy schedule, he is available to answer questions regarding class materials and offer advice.  A colleague observed that while Callies may act curmudgeon at times, he is in fact caring, committed, and often very humorous.
Diane Caulfield is a professor at Honolulu Community College.  For many years, she has demonstrated her commitment to the college and its students in a variety of roles–counselor, instructor and division chairperson.  She was commended for her ability to help students achieve their career goals, while heightening their confidence and self-esteem. In human service classes, her carefully planned lessons allow students to not only comprehend the material, but to also relate it to their personal experiences.  Caulfield is noted for her willingness to “always be there” to offer guidance and is a thoughtful individual with a kind heart who shows genuine compassion for her students.
Sang Yee Cheon is an assistant professor in East Asian Languages and Literatures at UH Mānoa.  Cheon developed course materials for advanced level Korean language, enlarging the student enrollment.  She advises undergraduate students, participates in academic conferences, serves as a committee member on academic associations, publishes regularly and introduces Korean culture to the broader public.  She single-handedly envisioned, formulated and structured the BA Flagship Program in Korean, developed its curricula and recruited its students.  Cheon creates a friendly atmosphere in her classes and is one of the most popular and respected teachers in the department.
John Constantino is an assistant professor and counselor in student services at Kauaʻi Community College.  He is a true asset to the college and enthusiastically advocates on behalf of students.  He listens attentively to each student, provides comprehensive service and designs a clear educational plan to help students achieve their goals.  Many of the students he has mentored have become confident and successful members of the community.  Constantino is a compassionate counselor who goes above and beyond his role as an academic advisor and continuously finds ways to fulfill student needs.
Michele Ebersole is an associate professor of education at UH Hilo.  She is an outstanding role model who inspires students to do their best, while displaying the professional demeanor and personal warmth that characterize the most effective and engaging teachers.  Students identify with Ebersole because she is youthful, personable and articulate, but they also admire her dedication, competence and dignity.  She takes time to ensure students’ needs are met and their questions answered, provides extensive feedback and lets them know she genuinely cares.  Her students describe her as sensitive, warm and an exemplary scholar.  Ebersole embodies for them the qualities of the teacher they would like to be someday.
James Henry in an associate professor in the department of English at UH Mānoa.  His contributions as a key leader of the English department’s composition and rhetoric program are manifold.  He developed an English 100 mentoring program that raised the success rates of freshmen and provided valuable instructional experience and financial support for the mentors.  Henry’s teaching is characterized by five features: ongoing self-reflection on students’ work, making each class a learning community, comprehensive and effective use of digital resources, frequent use of conferences to individualize instruction and extensive use of place-based learning.  His patience, encouragement and enthusiasm enable every willing student to achieve success.
Krista Hiser is an assistant professor of English at Kapiʻolani Community College.  Hiser works primarily with students in developmental English classes and her dedication and encouragement is particularly important to their success.  She herself says that she teaches, “so that students can live the richest, deepest, most reflective version of whatever life’s path unfolds for them.”  Teaching students to make wise choices, supporting this development with unconditional love, and building on a sound theory of learning, Hiser uses multiple strategies to promote and assess student learning.  Her students praise her for being a knowledgeable, devoted and excellent teacher that always has something positive to say.
Franklin Kudo is an assistant professor of accounting at UH West Oʻahu.  He demonstrates a genuine enthusiasm for teaching and a dedication to his students that make him an outstanding instructor and excellent role model.  Kudo draws from his years of experience working in the private sector using real-world examples to inspire and educate his students.  Kudo understands the students’ needs and daily struggles, and he is always available to provide assistance.  He is passionate about helping students achieve their potential.  Kudo is also the co-advisor to the UH West Oʻahu Accounting Club and is an active faculty member outside of the classroom.
Ross Langston is an instructor in anatomy and physiology at Windward Community College.  His students say he is “an amazing instructor” who is knowledgeable on a wide range of areas and displays a humble, easy-going and student-centered style of teaching.  Langston constantly makes extra effort so students have a clear and thorough understanding of the material.  He has set up mini-experiments, found web sources of animations on physiology to watch and planned quiz show-like set ups for exam practice.  He communicates well with all the students and offers them as much additional help as they need.  Langston is constantly an impressive, approachable and engaging instructor who does it all with such natural ability.
Laura Lees is an instructor in English at Maui Community College.  She is deeply passionate about teaching and gives confidence to all of her students by empowering them and creating an atmosphere of enjoyable learning.  Lees excels with students with developmental needs and finds both innovative and effective strategies to help them be successful in her class and in their overall college experience.  She believes that all students have strengths and talents and her role is to provide the guidance in facilitating and accentuating those traits to achieve success, both personally and professionally.  Lees truly exemplifies the qualities of an educator that lives and breathes excitement, intelligence and integrity.
Shelley Ota is a professor of accounting at Leeward Community College.  She looks for ways to engage students in the learning process, including hands-on activities.  Ota once used Lego kits to demonstrate the accounting concept of costing the manufacturing process, and she also makes the material relevant by providing connections to real-world events.  She is an effective teacher who helps students reach their academic goals and is a role model for other faculty to become better teachers.  Ota has been and continues to be an exceptional teacher, strong mentor, encouraging leader and an advocate for business students at Leeward Community College.
V. Amarjit Singh is a professor in civil and environmental engineering at UH Mānoa.  Singh believes that learning has to be pleasant and pleasurable.  He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the civil engineering department and cross-listed courses with the law school.  Singh instills the valuable lesson of how an innovative idea can become a reality in the engineering profession and what can cause ideas to fail.  He facilitates “out-of-the-box” thinking and inspires his students to become the quality engineers we will need to remake Hawaiʻi’s future.  One of his students said that Singh is “a fine example of a compassionate, genuine and caring man.”
Taupouri Tangaro is the assistant professor and department chair of Hawaiian life styles and humanities at Hawaiʻi Community College. He is a powerful mentor to students of all ages.  Tangaro inspires them through creativity, sensitivity, gentle humor, innovation and a deep, profound sense of purpose.  He is a master dancer, chanter, songwriter and teacher.  The educational philosophy and method that he developed to challenge and stimulate students is quite distinctive.  Tangaro fosters engagement through education of the Hawaiian cultural perspective on place, on the environmental elements and finally on the role of human beings in that environment.
These individuals will be recognized for their achievements along with other UH award recipients at the annual Convocation ceremony to be held September 15, 2009 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.  For more information on the awards ceremony, visit