Biology Professor Wins Faculty Teaching Award

Students in Garry Duncan’s biology classes are expected to come to class with their reading assignments and questions already completed.

They are expected to participate in small group discussions, where they each share their interpretations of their readings and clarify any learning gaps.

“With these discussion-based classes, students hold their peers accountable for completing assignments, engage in daily discussions, and begin to own the information being taught,” said senior biochemistry major Lindsey Jones.

Duncan’s teaching style coupled with his interest in his students’ lives beyond the classroom landed him the 2012-2013 Prouty Teaching Award.

The honor is bestowed each year to a professor who:

  • Communicates high expectations;
  • Encourages intellectual curiosity within and across disciplines;
  • Inspires students to do their best work;
  • Holds students accountable;
  • Engages students in class;
  • Encourages cooperation among students;
  • Respects diverse talents and ways of learning;
  • Encourages faculty-student contact;
  • Uses variety in instruction.

In nominating Duncan for the award, several biology majors praised Duncan’s classroom discussion teaching style and his work in helping students conduct real research.

“In Molecular Biology, Dr. Duncan has students complete an in-depth, multi-week project that more closely mirrors what doing true biological research is like as opposed to the traditional three-hour overview labs that many professors employ,” wrote Jones.

Duncan’s guidance beyond the classroom was also celebrated. In nominating Duncan several biology majors said Duncan encourages students to participate in extracurricular activities that relate to their studies, advises them as they consider and apply for prestigious scholarships and medical school, and gets to know them personally.

“He always asks about how things are going in my sorority and with my mentee, even when we are actually meeting to discuss classes,” said senior Emmalee Fishburn.

Fishburn said she was especially grateful to Duncan after realizing her original career path of becoming a biomedical researcher was no longer appealing to her.

“He was very supportive of me wanting to change career intentions because he recognized that research was not making me happy,” said Fishburn. “He was the one who ultimately suggested looking into physician assistant school, and I am very thankful he did because I know that field is where I belong.”

Duncan has taught at Nebraska Wesleyan for 34 years.

“He is an exemplary representation of a professor that not only engages students in the classroom, but truly cares about their academic interests, professional aspirations, and daily lives,” said Jones.

Duncan was presented the Prouty Teaching Award during the May faculty meeting. Marilyn Petro, association professor of psychology, was also nominated for the award.

Previous winners include:

  • Patty Hawk, communication studies, 2011-2012
  • Rita Lester, religion, 2010-2011
  • Frank Ferraro, psychology, 2009-2010
  • Gary Plank, forensic science, 2008-2009
  • Dale Benham, biology, 2007-2008
  • Bill McNeil, psychology, 2006-2007
  • Jay Chipman, theatre, 2005-2006


Awesome job!

-Molly Fitzke



—O. William McClung

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2012-2013 Prouty Teaching Award Winner