VIDEO: UK Alumni Association Honors Great Teachers

By Amy Jones-Timoney, Kelli Elam, Kodi Kiser, Whitney Harder

(Feb. 23, 2014) — Basketball players weren't the only ones in the spotlight at Rupp Arena this weekend.  

On Saturday, the University of Kentucky Alumni Association presented its 2015 Great Teacher Awards to six recipients at a recognition dinner.  The award-winners were then recognized on the court of Rupp Arena during the Kentucky vs. Auburn men’s basketball game.

The recipients are:

•  Sameer Desai, College of Medicine, Emergency Medicine

•  Pearl James, College of Arts and Sciences, English

•  W. Brent Seales, College of Engineering, Computer Science

•  Timothy R.B. Taylor, College of Engineering, Civil Engineering

•  Tim L. Uhl, College of Health Sciences, Athletic Training

•  Irina Voro, College of Fine Arts, Piano

The Great Teacher Award, started in 1961, is UK's longest-running award recognizing teaching. Educators must first be nominated by a student in order to be considered for the award. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, makes the final selections.  The winners receive an engraved plaque and cash prize in addition to the special recognition.

Here is a compilation of what the student nominators had to say about this year's Great Teachers:

The fact that Sameer Desai goes out of his way for his students really impacted students in the College of Medicine.  

"Dr. Desai has been one of the most influential clinical instructors in the College of Medicine," said Christopher Belcher, a UK graduate student.  "He is always willing to help both students and residents and does so with a smile on this face."

Michelle Justus Talbott, a UK Ph.D. candidate, spoke of Pearl James' connection with her students.  

"Dr. James' investment in my academic success is one of the primary reasons I've been able to complete the Ph.D. requirements in a timely manner," said Talbott.  "She is a patient counselor...and a trusted confidant."

An undergraduate student in the College of Engineering's computer science program recognized Brent Seales' vision for the future.  

"Dr. Seales is highly invested in the future success of the computer science program at UK and how that success should start and end with the students," said UK sophomore Stephen Parsons.

A graduate assistant in the College of Engineering noticed Tim Taylor's dedication to fellow civil engineering students.

"Dr. Taylor invests a great deal in his students," said Ying Li, a graduate assistant.  "He leaves his door open and is always happy to help students with whatever questions we have."

The theme of investing in students continues in the comments about Tim Uhl.  

“Dr. Uhl's investment in UK students is unquestionable," said Sharon Frank, a UK graduate student.  "His passion for educating the next generation of scholars is hard to miss and should be properly recognized."

A compilation of students in the College of Fine Arts admire Irina Voro's ability to connect music to emotion.  

"Dr. Voro is not simply competent, she is truly a Master Teacher who truly advances the art of teaching and who can speak the language of intellect, emotions and body,” the students said.  

Watch the video above to discover what this award means to this year's award-winners and why they're so happy great teaching is recognized and celebrated at UK.