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UW AWARDS 2008 HOMEPAGE

UWEEK.ORG HOMEPAGE

DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Ben Kerr, Biology
Gowri Shankar, Business Administration
Jaime Olavarria, Psychology
Jamie Walker, Ceramics
Julia Parrish, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences / Biology
Rebecca Aanerud, Women Studies
Richard Knuth, Education Administration

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD
Fernanda Oyarzun & Chris Himes , Biology
Rachel Goldberg, English

DISTINGUISHED LIBRARIAN AWARD
Theresa Mudrock, UW Libraries

DISTINGUISHED STAFF AWARD
Hendrik Simons, Nuclear Physics Laboratory
Mona Pitre-Collins, Undergraduate Scholarship Office
Philip Mote, Climate Impacts Group
Robin Bennett, Medical Genetics
Sue Park, Facilities Services

DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING AWARD
John Schaufelberger, Construction Management

OUTSTANDING PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Nancy Amidei, Social Work

JAMES D. CLOWES AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Lance Bennett, Political Science / Communication

S. STERLING MUNRO PUBLIC SERVICE TEACHING AWARD
Denise Wilson, Electrical Engineering

DAVID B. THORUD LEADERSHIP AWARD
Judy Mahoney, College of Engineering
Kathleen Woodward, Simpson Center for the Humanities

MARSHA L. LANDOLT DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE MENTOR AWARD
Tom Quinn, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

ALUMNUS SUMMA LAUDE DIGNATA
Beverly Cleary, Children's Author

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Robb Weller, Television Producer and Host

PRESIDENT'S MEDAL
June Shujun Peng and Royce Anderson

"All my students are teachers themselves. They can be very critical consumers. I knew I had to improve my teaching or perish."


Richard Knuth


Several years ago, former UW Tacoma student Allison Drago failed the first quiz in the second quarter of the Educational Administrator program.

Surprised by the poor performance of a promising student, Professor Richard Knuth -- known for taking his classes, and his students' work, very seriously -- called Drago into his office to talk about it. Drago's story spilled out: Her financial aid payment hadn't come through yet, so she had put off buying the expensive textbook.

Knuth listened to the explanation with little comment. But when Drago returned to class the next day, she found a new textbook waiting on her desk.

Drago, now the principal of University Place Primary School, was blown away.

"He took the time to find out what happened, and then he took it a step further and bought the book for me so I could succeed," she said. "I learned then that if you work hard, he will do anything for you."

As head of UW Tacoma's Educational Administrator program, Knuth is an important link on his students' journeys from teacher to principal. Known as tough but fair, inspiring and masterful, Knuth prides himself on helping good educators become excellent administrators with the skills and power to lead dozens of teachers and hundreds of young students to do their best work.

"Sometimes I feel like I want to leave higher education and go back to direct K-12 academic leadership, where I might have a more palpable impact," he said. "But I am constantly reminded that in seven years of this program, I have helped train more than 100 employed school administrators in 23 school districts, who are in turn each working with hundreds of students. That, to me, is a significant impact."

Knuth spent 18 years as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent in University Place and Kent school districts. Seven years ago, UW Tacoma established the Educational Administrator program, which offers working teachers a one-year certificate in educational leadership as a stepping-stone to positions as principals and superintendents. Knuth jumped at the chance to head the program.

"Principals are so important to the academic achievement of children, but it's not an easy job," he said. "Often, the people who perform the role don't have much training in educational leadership. This was an opportunity to help create a rigorous program that would train competent, well-grounded principals."

Once in the program, Knuth found that he faced a tough crowd.

"All my students are teachers themselves," he said. "They can be very critical consumers. I knew I had to improve my teaching or perish."

Knuth developed a varied pace and set of activities for his classes, which are over four hours long. He tries to keep students stimulated and engaged for the entire class through a mix of lecture and activities, and invites his students to practice their skills by teaching each other.

"They've worked all day at a really hard job, and it's difficult to come here and study all evening," he said. "I have to constantly monitor my teaching and adjust to meet their needs."

For the program, Knuth developed what he calls the Essential Leadership Model, a framework for developing students into effective principals and leaders. First and foremost, he says, principals need to develop a working understanding of their basic character, moral purpose and values. Then he teaches basic leadership tasks and relationship skills and specific "craft knowledge" in instructional leadership.

Character and values are the most important piece of the puzzle, he said.

"Principals need to have moral purpose and be able to clearly articulate their values," he said. "They need heart and passion. Content and pedagogy can be learned and refined over time."

Drago says Knuth has high expectations for his students, and follows through with genuine care.

"He's done our jobs, and he knows how hard we work," she said. "I think he has a real passion for public education, and he works hard to prepare students for one of the most important jobs out there."