University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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UW-Eau Claire Professor Recognized
For Leadership and Excellence in Teaching

 MAILED:  Dec. 18, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — J. Kenneth Davidson Sr., coordinator of family studies and professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, was recently named co-recipient of the 2003 Ernest G. Osborne Award for Excellence in Teaching of Family Studies. The award was presented at the 65th annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations held Nov. 19-22 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in the teaching of family studies over their career. Davidson, who has been teaching and conducting research for more than 40 years, received the award along with his long-time research collaborator and co-author Nelwyn B. Moore of Texas State University-San Marcos. Davidson and Moore co-wrote the textbook “Marriage and Family,” which has been updated and revised as “Marriage and Family: Change and Continuity” to reflect the contemporary concerns of today’s diverse and non-traditional student population. They also co-edited “Speaking of Sexuality: Interdisciplinary Readings.” Both books are used in college-level courses across the country.

Davidson also is author or co-author of numerous refereed and invited publications and has acted as critical reviewer for many publications in the areas of marriage and the family and human sexuality. His research on sexuality has attracted particular attention over the years, as in 1988, when he was interviewed on the CBS News show “This Morning.”

Among his many other contributions, Davidson was chair of the NCFR committee which developed standards and criteria for the certification of family life educators in the early 1980s. This document served as the foundation of the current Certification of Family Life Educators Program. The program offers certification to both individuals and college-level programs that meet NCFR criteria in ten content areas. It is widely recognized in the United States and Canada and increasingly, according to Davidson, in other parts of the world. The government of Taiwan, for example, has in recent years begun promoting education in the area of family life and relations through its universities.

Davidson said that although courses on family relations have sometimes tended to focus on problems and dysfunctions, he has always taken a more positive approach, focusing on the skills and elements necessary for healthy and successful relationships. In his applied courses, such as “Courtship and Marital Relations,” his objectives include helping students to understand the similarities and differences between the sexes, the importance of effective communication skills, the developmental stages in the family life cycle, ways of coping with change and the factors that lead to relationship and marital satisfaction.

“My upper division classes, on the other hand, are theoretical in nature and intended to prepare students for graduate school in family studies and/or careers in family-related types of positions,” said Davidson. “But in the process, they may also gain some additional practical information.”

The Ernest G. Osborne award, given by NCFR in alternate years, is named to honor a three-term past president of NCFR, who established the first program in family life education at Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1938. Nominations come from the recipients’ peers and the award includes $1,000 and a travel stipend to attend the annual meeting and receive the award. This year the award was split between Davidson and Moore, recognizing their many individual and collaborative accomplishments. Davidson said he and Moore first met through their participation in the development of the standards and criteria for family life educators through the NCFR.

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
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Updated: December 18, 2003