Categorized | Education

Twelve UH faculty honored with Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching


HONOLULU – Twelve University of Hawaiʻi faculty members have been selected as recipients of the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. This award recognizes faculty who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values beneficial to students.

Jess Aki is a professor of cosmetology at Honolulu Community College. Students admire her ability to motivate and create enthusiasm about her subject, and that she encourages them to go beyond the facts to think critically about what it means to be a cosmetologist. They compliment her clear communication of course expectations, flexibility to adapt to different learning styles, sensitivity to their test anxiety, and prompt, fair grading of their work. Former students proudly introduce her to their families and still look up to her with respect and affection. Aki is a dedicated and caring instructor who makes students’ mastery of subject matter her highest priority.

Ned Bertz is an assistant professor of history at UH Mānoa. For Bertz, teaching is the art of helping students understand the world and all the possibilities it offers. He teaches a wide range of student-centered courses focusing on South Asian and African history, and others that train students in the disciplinary practices of history. He possesses a passion and knowledge for South Asian history that is contagious and enticing. A colleague observed that his students express an overwhelming appreciation for his enthusiasm and dedication to teaching, and a universal recognition of his knowledge of the subjects he teaches.

Sandra Claveria is an instructor and coordinator for the human services program at Hawai‘i Community College. A mentor and coach, she has more than 25 years of experience in Hawaiian culture, diversity and values education. She is praised for her compassion, understanding and patience when it comes to working with a wide diversity of students from different cultures. A colleague shared that many first time students enter her class feeling uncertain about themselves, their academic path and their life choices, but by the end of the semester they are feeling inspired, motivated and confident. Claveria exemplifies the true meaning of excellence in teaching.

Kahele Dukelow is an instructor in Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College. She accesses a full range of creativity, passion and knowledge to instill within her students a sense of accomplishment, purpose and enthusiasm for learning. Dukelow teaches in a manner that allows her students to feel empowered. She inspires her students to learn and think freely and encourages them to research and apply their knowledge to improve the community, culture and the world in their own ways. Dukelow’s dedication to her students is obvious as many commend her for being an excellent teacher and role model who is always willing to go the extra mile to help.

Magdy Iskander is a professor of electrical engineering and director of the Hawai‘i Center for Advanced Communications at UH Mānoa. Iskander cares about his students and spends a lot of time to motivate and excite them about electromagnetics. His thorough understanding of this difficult and esoteric subject and his talent in explaining difficult concepts make his classroom lectures enlightening, full of fun, and leaves his students wanting to learn more. Iskander is also an activist for promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for middle schools in Hawai‘i and promoting science awareness to the general public.

Frederick Lau is a professor of music at UH Mānoa. His work at the university is based on his experience as an ethnomusicologist, teacher, flutist and conductor. Lau has an energetic and incisive personality and projects these qualities in his teaching. He is a strong advocate of multiculturalism in both theory and practice in his classroom. Lau always emphasizes how important it is to view music not just as mere sonic phenomena but to understand it in relation to larger social issues. He believes that through the study of music, students can gain insight into understanding the complexity of culture and the role music plays in shaping our existence.

Eric Matsuoka is a mathematics professor at Leeward Community College. Colleagues observe that he is passionate about his work and helps his students apply what they learn to real life scenarios to help them further understand various concepts. His students concur that he is extremely knowledgeable, funny, organized, caring and very creative in teaching mathematics. He is also a great mentor and is very generous with his time and efforts in assisting his colleagues. Matsuoka is a dedicated professor of exceptional quality who has earned the respect of his colleagues, students and administrators at the college and system level.

Karla McDermid is a professor in the marine science department at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. She specializes in taxonomy and the community dynamics of Hawaiian seaweeds and seagrasses. She has presented invited papers at international seaweed conferences and workshops, and published articles on ecology, taxonomy, biogeography and nutritional composition of seaweed. In addition to sharing her knowledge, McDermid also creates and serves a limu luncheon to her marine science students. Students and peers alike praise her for being highly effective both inside and outside of the classroom, often employing innovative and unusual teaching methods.

Bennett Moffat is a professor and humanities department chair at Windward Community College. He is a good listener and allows students to voice their opinions and questions in full, a technique that allows for optimum class participation. Moffat makes sure to communicate exactly what is expected during class and manages his time well to give his students ample opportunity for class discussions. He explains concepts, ideas and techniques in drama in great detail, elaborating on what he knows best and sharing his personal experiences. Moffat is recognized as a valuable asset to the college and has a great sense of humor that encourages harmony, unity and creativity in the classroom.

Randall Roth is a professor in the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa. The courses that Roth teaches are regarded as subjects that are the hardest to teach in the law school curriculum. However, his wit and enthusiasm make his courses the most memorable. He is a model for students and mentors them in what it takes to be nothing less than good and industrious lawyers. His courses allow students to see themselves as problem solvers in sorting out complex legal issues. Roth is commended for extending the reach of the law and teaching beyond the halls of academia in ways that are important to our state and its people.

Chhany Sak-Humphry is an associate professor in the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures at UH Mānoa. Sak-Humphry believes that the benefit of learning any foreign language is immeasurable. She began teaching Khmer at UH Mānoa in 1983 and has single-handedly developed the Khmer Language Program into the excellent and internationally recognized program that it is today. She also developed and directed the Advanced Study of Khmer Abroad Program, which serves students in the United States and abroad. Sak-Humphry’s approach to teaching has been to integrate outstanding instruction with innovative research on Khmer language, linguistics and literature.

Gregory Shepherd is an associate professor of music at Kaua‘i Community College. He began his teaching career at Kaua‘i in 1988 and is known for his way of connecting with students. Shepherd is extremely patient and believes in each student’s potential and unique voice. He encourages his students to continue practicing and always praises their accomplishments. At the same time, he works with them to improve their performance and assists with areas for improvement. Shepherd is dedicated to teaching and has an unyielding drive to share his passion for the musical arts with his students and others.

These individuals will be recognized for their achievements along with other UH award recipients at the annual Convocation ceremony to be held September 14, 2010 at 10 a.m. at Kennedy Theatre on the UH Mānoa campus. The ceremony is open to the public at no charge, and no reservations are needed. For more information on the awards ceremony, visit

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