Categorized | Education

UH faculty honored for excellence in undergraduate teaching


HONOLULU – The University of Hawai‘i has selected six faculty members from campuses across the university system as the recipients of the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In memory of the late Frances Davis who taught mathematics at Leeward Community College and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for 19 years, the award recognizes UH faculty members who demonstrate outstanding dedication and excellence as teachers of undergraduate students.

Lucía Aranda is an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages and Literatures of Europe and the Americas at UH Mānoa. She is one of the most versatile, creative and resourceful teachers in the Spanish division. She has taught at least 14 different courses, in both English and Spanish, encompassing language, literature, culture, history and translation, and spanning topics from U.S. Latinos to Spain. Aranda strives for academic excellence, critical thinking and respect. In addition to her curricular expertise, Aranda has been successful in creating and supporting extracurricular linguistic and cultural opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

Jonathan Awaya is an assistant biology professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He is praised for his commitment to helping students intent on being admitted to medical school. Awaya is recognized for his efforts to encourage students to pursue independent research projects that expose them to the rigorous academic standards required to succeed in graduate level programs. As advisor to the Aspiring Doctors of Hilo student club, he also maintains regular contact with faculty at the John A. Burns School of Medicine in an effort to create opportunities for UH Hilo students. Awaya’s enthusiasm motivates his students to explore ways to make the most of their educational experiences.

Diane Caulfield is a professor and cooperative education coordinator at Honolulu Community College. She has demonstrated the highest ethical standards and dedication to teaching as well as excellence in the design of lower division undergraduate courses. Caulfield has continued to modify and improve human development courses to facilitate student learning. She has been commended as a wonderful teacher who takes the time to talk with her students, answer their questions and discuss future goals. Her students appreciate her patience, understanding, encouragement and professional expertise. Caulfield is an inspiration to students and makes them feel that they can succeed.

Mary Kay Tanka is a nursing instructor at Kaua‘i Community College. She is an expert professional nurse, inspiring and caring instructor, and a trusted and respected colleague. Tanka encourages students to develop and take ownership of their nursing practice and to become lifelong learners as they grow in their profession and in their personal lives. Along with her positive attitude, she brings her knowledge, experience and insight into the classroom in a way that makes her students eager to learn more, inspiring them to do their best and work together. Tanka is an excellent instructor, mentor and friend, and her dedication to the education of professional nurses is exemplary.

Karyn Mo Wells is a graduate teaching assistant and doctoral candidate in American studies at UH Mānoa. Her teaching style complements the way her students learn. She has the ability to make the class material relevant to their lives and facilitates reciprocal dialogue that engages each student in a meaningful manner. She encourages them to defend their beliefs and theories with substantive discussion, which elicits creativity and excitement from her class and motivates students to come out of their comfort zones. Wells is noted as an excellent teacher that goes to great lengths to connect key themes in establishing a living, breathing history for her students.

Carleen Yokotake is an associate professor of speech at Leeward Community College. She has been described as a dynamic teacher who not only teaches speech and communication skills but also demonstrates them in her delivery of course material. Yokotake approaches every class with passion and enthusiasm and applies interactive teaching strategies to create an enjoyable environment for each student. She continues to improve her teaching through assessment of student learning and by keeping current on the latest research on communication. Colleagues say that it is her friendly and very approachable demeanor that makes her such an effective and exceptional educator.

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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