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Salute to Silver Circle winners

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David Wirtshafter

David Wirtshafter works with Ben Ilyaguyev, a senior in neuroscience. in today's electronic age, “there is something to be said for actual people talking to students,” he says.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

What do winning teachers have in common? Through the years — and many generations of students — some things remain the same.

“I want my students to think,” said political science professor Twiley Barker, who won the award the first year it was given 45 years ago.

"My goal always is to make them think and reason as much as possible," says math lecturer Evangelos Kobotis, one of this year's winners.

Silver Circle winners often pride themselves on being friendly and approachable to their students.

"Even in a college classroom, it's possible to learn in a fun atmosphere," says psychology professor David Wirtshafter, a 2011 winner.

But the most important common thread for winners through the decades: a passion for teaching.

“You’ve got to love the subject, and if you really love it, it shows," said chemistry professor Ronald Baumgarten, who received nine Silver Circles during his long career at UIC.

"I am truly blessed to do what I love, and I think the students know that," says managerial studies professor David Koehler, who wins his fourth award this year.

Here are this year's winners:

Health sciences
Karrie Hamstra-Wright, kinesiology and nutrition, and Krista Jones, Nursing

Social sciences
Philip Ashton, urban planning and policy; Kathryn Engel, psychology; David Wirtshafter, psychology

Marsha Cassidy, English; Sharon Goepfert, performing arts; Jennifer Tobin, classics and Mediterranean studies

Evangelos Kobotis, mathematics; Terry Layton, engineering; Alan Molumby, biological sciences

Business and education
David Koehler, managerial studies; Daniel Miltner, curriculum and instruction.

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