Professors at Three Colorado State University System Schools Win Teaching-Excellence Awards

The State Board of Agriculture today presented the 1997 Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awards to professors at Colorado State University, the University of Southern Colorado and Fort Lewis College.

The professors received awards for outstanding teaching at a meeting of the State Board, which sponsors the award and governs the three-school Colorado State University System.

Winners were Frank Vattano from the department of psychology at Colorado State, Maya Aviña from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo, and Jim Mills, professor of chemistry at Fort Lewis College in Durango. Frank Vattano is a pioneer in applying multimedia technology to improve classroom instruction and is one of Colorado State’s most ardent proponents of multimedia, which includes videotapes, film clips, videodiscs, compact discs and related visual presentations. Colleagues describe Vattano as "a consummate scholar-teacher who always carries a heavy instructional load," which means he teaches introductory psychology to more than 400 undergraduates each academic year. Other colleagues said: "Above all else, he is a genuine and caring human being." Students enrolled in Vattano’s courses commented on his skilled use of technology in the classroom and his engaging and dynamic teaching style. They also commended him for lectures that are organized and enriched because he incorporates the most current teaching technologies. Vattano, a 1958 alumnus of Colorado State, has devoted almost 29 years to teaching and administration at the university. He first joined Colorado State in 1964 as an assistant professor. After one year, he moved to the University of Denver where he served three years as associate dean of arts and sciences and one year as vice chancellor for student affairs. In 1969, he returned to Colorado State as associate director of the Human Factors Research Laboratory and associate professor of psychology. A year later, he was promoted to assistant academic vice president for instructional development. From 1976- 1986, Vattano served as dean of what now is the College of Liberal Arts. He then rejoined the psychology department to pursue his interest in teaching and multimedia.

Maya Aviña, who joined the University of Southern Colorado in 1995, is cited for developing exciting and innovative ways to involve her students in learning. "Her passion for teaching and compassion make her the best kind of teacher – both mentor and role model," said Les Wong, the university’s provost and interim president. "She encourages, inspires and empowers students to reach for their dreams." Aviña’s advanced graphic-design workshop provides students the opportunity to produce professionally printed work. Among results from her most recent workshop were a full-color poster for the USC Music Fest; the cover and interior illustration of the university’s Continuing Education schedule and bulletin; and a logo, business card, newsletter header and type design for the Greenway and Nature Center of Pueblo. The Colorado Council on the Arts in 1996 awarded Aviña an Artists and Organizations Award for VOCES ARTISTICAS, a project to teach minority high-school students about the college experience and how to use art as a means to express their opinions. The project also has brought internationally known artists to campus for lectures and workshops.

Chemistry professor Jim Mills, recognized for his commitment to students, is credited with inspiring hundreds of students at Fort Lewis College to pursue careers in science. Students credit him with being an entertaining, effective and knowledgeable teacher. "Dr. Mills has a unique teaching style. Chemistry is not always a fun subject, but Dr. Mills has a way of making it interesting and lively," said one student. In addition to teaching, Mills has served in a number of campus leadership positions, including chairman of the chemistry department and member of the Faculty Executive Council. In 1994, he served on a United Nations-sponsored international panel to address barriers facing women pursuing science degrees in developing countries. Mills, who received his doctorate in physical chemistry in 1967 from Brown University, has taught at Fort Lewis College since 1973. He recently was a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona and has been a visiting scientist at the University of Indiana.