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K-State Today

April 30, 2013

Exceptional educators: Four faculty members receive Commerce Bank Teaching Award

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Four Kansas State University faculty members are being rewarded for years of exceptional teaching with the Commerce Bank Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.

The 2013 recipients of the award are Debra Andres, instructor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education; Laura Kanost, assistant professor of modern languages in the College of Arts and Sciences; David Nichols, professor of animal sciences and industry in the College of Agriculture; and Kevin Sauer, assistant professor of hospitality management and dietetics in the College of Human Ecology.

Sponsored by the William T. Kemper Foundation and the Commerce Bancshares Foundation and coordinated through the Kansas State University Foundation, the awards include a $2,500 honorarium.

"For nearly two decades, Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation have partnered with K-State to support undergraduate teaching excellence," said Tom Giller, community bank president of Commerce Bank, Manhattan. "We are pleased to join with the university to honor these four educators, who have had a tremendous influence on student success."

University President Kirk Schulz said that gifts like those from Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation are excellent examples of the community's support of K-State's 2025 goals.

"The contributions made by Commerce Bank to recognize these outstanding educators are invaluable assets to K-State becoming a Top 50 public research university by 2025," Schulz said. "I am thrilled to see the community continually support Kansas State University."

Andres, Alta Vista, received her bachelor's degree in vocational home economics education and her master's degree in family studies and human services, both from Kansas State University. She joined the university's faculty in 2005. Andres provides instruction and placement supervision for Core Teaching Skills, which has an annual enrollment of more than 150 students. She has received the Carl Perkins Outstanding Service Award from the Kansas Association of Career and Technical Educators and a Leader Award from the Kansas Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. Andres is formerly from Marysville.

"The secret to being a good teacher is building relationships with students," Andres said. "We are not here to catch them in their errors or shortcomings. We are here to help them recognize those errors and shortcomings and equip them with the knowledge to correct and strengthen their skills."

Kanost received her bachelor's degrees in Spanish and English from Kansas State University, and her master's and doctoral degrees in Spanish from the University of Kansas. She joined the faculty at Kansas State University as a visiting assistant professor in 2007 and was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in 2011. She has taught more than 12 courses at the university and serves on the state's Interpreter and Translator Task Force. She has received the Faculty Development Award from Kansas State University twice and an Arts and Sciences Faculty Enhancement Program award.

"As much as possible, I try to link my teaching and research," Kanost said. "That way they feed each other, rather than pulling me in too many directions. For example, because teaching through service learning requires extra time and energy, I also have channeled that interest into my research program."

Nichols received his bachelor's degree from Purdue University and his master's and doctoral degrees from Kansas State University. He joined the Kansas State University faculty in 1981 as an assistant professor and extension livestock specialist, and was promoted to associate professor in 1987 and professor in 1995. In addition to teaching Principles of Animal Science, he serves as the department's teaching coordinator and advises more than 100 students. He has advised the university's Little American Royal showmanship contest for more than 20 years. Nichols has received a K-State's Presidential Award for Undergraduate Advising and was named the College of Agriculture's Faculty of the Semester, as well as being named a Midwestern Region Teacher Fellow from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture organization.

"I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity to teach, especially incoming students," Nichols said. "I hope I can make a difference in their first year experience and help them succeed at K-State. I'm extremely lucky to do what I do and to be at K-State."

Sauer received his bachelor's degree in dietetics, master's degree in food service management-administrative and dietetics, and doctoral degree in human ecology from Kansas State University. He joined the Kansas State University faculty in 2004 as an instructor and was promoted to assistant professor in 2009. In addition to his teaching and research, he advises about 50 students every semester. He has received the Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award from the Kansas Dietetic Association and the Joan Coleman Faculty Excellence Award from the hospitality management and dietetics department.

"I more than enjoy teaching. I love it," Sauer said. "Honestly, I've found the hidden gem of opportunities in the dietetics profession -- teaching. To have the opportunity to impact a student's professional future is very special for me. I get excited about each and every lecture, and I hope it shows. I believe that teaching is reciprocal in the sense that the students and I 'own' our classes and class time, and we make class-related decisions together. This seems to encourage exploration and critical thinking the most."