Faculty and staff earn top teaching and mentoring awards
Students nominated professor Rongal Watson to receive the James R. Underkofler Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Beloit’s highest teaching honor.
The associate professor of health and society and political science engages students in real-world problems and provides a safe learning forum to discuss sensitive topics, such as racial, gender, and ethnic disparities. Watson’s research interests include the politics of race and ethnicity, domestic and global health inequities, national healthcare systems, and public health policy. “Not only is he a wonderful professor,” one of his students wrote, “he also is a genuinely amazing person. He cares so much about his students’ success and makes them feel valued.”
The award, sponsored by Alliant Energy, is named for the organization’s longtime CEO.
Phee Boon Kang Prize
Greg Buchanan, professor of psychology, and Daryl Saladar, assistant director of Beloit’s Student Excellence and Leadership (SEL) Program, were the first to receive a refocused Phee Boon Kang Prize.
The prize formerly recognized faculty or staff using technology to advance innovations in teaching, but the criteria switched in 2022 to recognize excellence in advising and mentoring. The Kang Prize is based on student nominations and the recommendation of a faculty and staff committee, which then goes to a student vote.
Buchanan, who joined Beloit in 1999, is a respected professor and trusted mentor known for his engaging lectures and the ability to enliven topics. He received the Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2004.
His scholarship spans a variety of areas, including explanatory styles, mindfulness, and male body image. He remains an active practitioner of clinical psychology in the community and brings that training and experience to the classroom. He is a formal academic advisor, mentor, and trusted confidant and ally to many students. One student said, “… Over the last three years he has been influential in my growth and development not only as a student but also as a person. He is always there when I need him.”
Saladar, who joined Beloit’s staff in 2018, is known as a strong mentor and tireless backer of students. He supports SEL program participants by working with them on multiple special projects to improve their reading and writing skills. Students say he is always there for them and models humility. “He does not talk about what he does for others; rather, he does it in private for the love of his mentees,” one student wrote.
Saladar’s work on the SEL Summer Institute’s Personal Narrative course has been critical in helping new first-year students adapt to and prepare for college, while setting the groundwork for future success. This has been especially important during the pandemic and a period of remote learning.
The Kang Prize is supported by Phee Boon Kang, a 1973 graduate and college Trustee, who joined the award ceremony by Skype.