MAILED: July 10, 2000
Scott Hartsel, professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, is representing the university this year as a nominee for the 2000 U.S. Professor of the Year award.
Each year the Council for Advancement and Support of Education names a U.S. National Professor of the Year, an award that recognizes instructors for their commitment and dedication to undergraduate teaching and to acknowledge the role of faculty in encouraging students to remain connected with their alma maters after graduation.
Academic institutions make the nominations. UW-Eau Claire Provost Ronald Satz nominated Hartsel this year.
"If the role of a teacher is to awaken, to incite students to learn and to reflect deeply, then I think Dr. Hartsel is very deserving of the Professor of the Year award," Satz said of Hartsel.
Hartsel has been a member of UW-Eau Claire's chemistry faculty since 1988, and had an immediate impact on the department, chemistry professor David Lewis said.
"From day one he set a high benchmark for all to follow," Lewis said.
Throughout his 12 years at the university, Hartsel has taught chemistry courses at all levels, including introductory classes and those at the senior level.
Hartsel also has been very active in faculty/student research. He has worked with more than 30 undergraduate research collaborators and has published several papers co-authored by students. He also was one of the first UW-Eau Claire faculty members to be awarded a National Science Foundation travel grant, which provided funding for him and an undergraduate student to conduct research in Paris.
Hartsel uses research as a teaching tool because he says it is important for students to face the day-to-day problems and uncertainties that are a part of research.
"Science is not static," he said. "I don't think we do a very good job of getting this across in the classroom."
"I want students to see the beauty and wonder of science the way that I do and realize that they can play a part in this endeavor too," Hartsel said of his role as professor.
One of his former students, Tracy Ruckwardt, said in a letter of nomination, "The two-and-a-half years that I spent working with him were the biggest academic influence on my life. I wasn't at all sure that science was what I really wanted to be doing until I started working with Dr. Hartsel. His enthusiasm about science is contagious, and his ability as a mentor helped me realize my full scientific potential."
Bradley Baas, another of Hartsel's former students, said Hartsel has had a huge impact on his life. "He has managed to turn an unmotivated and mediocre student into an aspiring young scientist," Baas said. His mentoring has helped me in gaining entrance into the University of Illinois biochemistry graduate program, he said.
"Most importantly," Baas added, "he has proven to be a great friend. He has shown a very concerted interest in both the academic and personal lives of his students." In addition to the U.S. Professor of the Year award, CASE also names a Professor of the Year from each state. As a nominee for the national award, Hartsel has automatically been nominated for the Wisconsin award.
UW-Eau Claire chemistry professor Jack Pladziewicz was named Wisconsin's Professor of the Year in 1993 and psychology professor William Frankenberger received the honor in 1995.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 11, 2000