2017 top teachers

Gwen Achenreiner

Profiles on six UWL faculty to earn the Eagle Teaching Excellence Award

Six UW-La Crosse faculty members are being recognized for excellence in teaching. They are the 2017 Eagle Teaching Excellence Award winners. This year the Provost Office received approximately 800 teacher nominations from UWL students. A UWL committee selected the winners.

Winners were announced at the end of spring semester and as part of spring commencement. They will be recognized among colleagues at the Chancellor’s All-University Address in fall.

This year’s winners are:

Gwen Achenreiner ~ Marketing
Rita Chen ~ Education Studies
Faye Ellis ~ Biology
Gary Gilmore ~ Health Education/Health Promotion
Brad Nichols ~ Art
Lindsay Steiner ~ English

Below are short profiles on the six winners:

“Dr. Achenreiner was my professor for ‘Buyer Behavior’ which has been my favorite class thus far at UW-La Crosse. I truly looked forward to coming to her class because every day she had a new activity that related to both our lives as college students and how to better our future in marketing, which made learning about the field much more interesting and solidified my choice of marketing as a major.” –Mariah Ring

Gwen Achenreiner

Gwen Achenreiner, professor, Marketing Department
Years at UWL: 19
Teaches: I predominantly teach MKT 362 “Buyer Behavior,” and serve as department chair and the American Marketing Association collegiate chapter advisor. I also teach (or have taught over the years) MKT 309 Principles of Marketing; MKT 367 Market Research; and MKT 415 Senior Seminar.
History: I have taught marketing and management at both public and private institutions. In industry, I worked as a marketing analyst prior to teaching.
Favorite part of teaching: I like planning my course and preparing individual classes, constantly trying to figure out different and creative ways to better engage students. I love it when I see — or hear — students getting as interested and intrigued by the topics being studied as I am. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy activities and events that connect students and faculty with the business community. I believe these experiential learning activities are really helpful in extending learning beyond the classroom and in better preparing our students for success in their future careers. The opportunity to teach and get to know our UWL students is truly a privilege.


“Rita Chen is the definition of excellent. She has made this semester my favorite one at UWL. Her passion for what she does makes a huge difference in the lives of her students. She goes out of her way to help, encourage, and prepare her students for their future endeavors of teaching! Rita was always an email away and able to help with anything. Not only did she help prepare students for teaching and make the first field experience the best it could be, she also helped me find what kind of teacher I want to be, as well as prepare her students for the FORT test. Without Dr. Chen’s help I am confident that a majority of the students from class would not be ready or equipped with the skills that we are today.” -Jennifer Michalke

Rita Chen

Rita Chen, associate professor, Department of Educational Studies
Years at UWL:
8 years
Teaches: I teach literacy courses and supervise teacher candidates in public schools. I teach four major courses: Foundations of Literacy; Teaching Language and Literacy; Field Experience One; and Teaching for Social Justice through Service Learning. I run the Eagle Bluff Professional Development School site where K-5 public school teachers work with me to prepare pre-service teachers to learn to teach and assess students’ literacy skills.
History: I was an elementary school teacher for six plus years teaching English Language learners in Taiwan. I also taught immigrant children and adults in Bloomington, Indiana. I earned my doctoral degree in Language and Literacy Education from Indiana University-Bloomington.
Favorite part of teaching: I feel very fortunate to be a teacher educator who prepares future generations of teaching professionals. The best part of my job is to work with a group of students who want to be teachers, are not daunted by responsibility and challenges weighing upon their shoulders, and cannot wait to experience the energy of teaching children in schools! My students make EVERY day in the classroom unique, hilarious and meaningful for us all. Just thinking about all the wonderful teachers who have graduated from UWL makes me proud of my job!


“Faye has been the best teacher I had here at La Crosse. She is open, friendly, and truly pushes you to become better. She encourages student participation with an open atmosphere in which you feel free to share your opinions and ask question. Her office is always open and she catches up with you every chance that she gets. All this does not mean that she is an easy teacher. I found her courses very challenging which I enjoyed immensely. I found myself striving to become better due to the rigors of her classes. When I would achieve an A, I knew that I really deserved it. I still find the time in my busy schedule to stop by her office whenever I get a chance to let her know what is going on in my life. I have been very fortunate to have Mrs. Ellis in my corner rooting for me.” -Brady Gross

Faye Ellis

Faye Ellis, senior lecturer, Department of Biology
Years at UWL:
Teaches: I teach the laboratory component of Genetics, Anatomy, and Cell Biology. I also teach a graduate level class for biology graduate teaching assistants to introduce them to common sense practices they can use in the laboratories they teach in.
History: Before teaching at UWL, I was a graduate student at UWL. I loved being here so much that I decided to stay when I was offered a position after graduation.
Favorite part of teaching: My favorite part of teaching is showing students how to incorporate active learning strategies into their study practices. I incorporate active learning into my teaching and demonstrate how to use what I do in class into study sessions.


“Dr. Gilmore had a structure to his course that kept everyone engaged. You would come to class able to anticipate what was going to be learned. He would always stretch expectations even further, making everything we did in class and everything he said something of meaning.” -Anonymous

Gary Gilmore

Gary Gilmore, professor, Department of Health Education and Health Promotion, and director of Graduate Community Health and Public Health Programs
Years at UWL:
Teaches: As a public health epidemiologist and public health educator, I have developed and teach the following courses:

  • Undergraduate Epidemiology and Disease Prevention
  • Graduate Epidemiology and Public Health Issues
  • Graduate Public Health Administration and Organization
  • Health Education Responsibilities, Competencies, and Certification

I serve as the advisor for all graduate candidates in our nationally accredited Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of Science in Community Health Education (MS-CHE) Programs.

I am on the graduate faculty and I chair graduate thesis research and also graduate projects as capstone experiences. I infuse insights and examples from my national and global public health experiences (e.g., from serving as a Fulbright Scholar at the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health in Calcutta, India, 1999-2000) into my classes and mentoring roles and responsibilities.
History: Prior to teaching at UWL, I was a public health practitioner in the following positions:

  • Public Health Epidemiologist and Public Health Educator for the Bergen County Health Department, Bergen County, New Jersey.
  • Preventive Medicine Specialist at the Preventive Medicine Activity, United States General Leonard Wood Army Hospital, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I served as the Supervisor of the Environmental and Statistical Section of the Preventive Medicine Activity. I was awarded the U.S. Army Commendation Medal in Preventive Medicine. My first epidemiological article was published in Military Medicine in 1971 addressing the preventive measures used at Fort Leonard Wood in controlling meningococcal disease prior to the advent of an efficacious vaccine.
  • The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Lecturer teaching Personal and Community Health courses.

Favorite part of teaching: My favorite part of teaching is the facilitation of discovery among the undergraduate and graduate students, whether that occurs in the classroom, through community-based site visitations, advising Thesis and Graduate Project investigations, or serving as a faculty mentor for undergraduate research projects conducted in the U.S. and globally. In class, I use a Socratic teaching style by providing Public Health context as a starting point, and then raising a series of sequential questions for the students to ponder and respond to. My greatest joy comes from students fully engaging in discussions, while learning and practicing public health skills that will serve them for a lifetime in their careers and communities.


“Brad is the most approachable teacher I have ever had at UWL. I took one of his general education art classes where he mentioned metalsmithing and recommended we check it out. I enrolled in the beginner metalsmithing class and I was soon enamored with the art form. Brad’s teaching style is also why I stuck with metalsmithing. He is like a ray of sunshine with his jokes and sense of humor. He has a casual demeanor that is refreshing, and he encourages us to be creative and make cool stuff. At the same time, his extensive knowledge of all things metalwork commands respect. Brad makes the metal studio a stimulating and welcoming place to be; like a micro-community of artists. I feel so lucky to be a part of it!” -Anonymous

Brad Nichols

Brad Nichols, associate professor, Department of Art
Years at UWL:
11½ years
Teaches: I teach all levels of metalsmithing and blacksmithing, as well as foundation courses in studio arts.
History: I received a Masters of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a Bachelors of Science from UWL. Prior to teaching, I was a studio artist creating one-of-a-kind objects for commission. I designed and created architectural iron work, sculpture and furniture for both private and public spaces.
Favorite of teaching: My favorite part of teaching is the students. Watching them progress from hesitation to complete confidence with materials, process and concepts is one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do. I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to work with our outstanding students and to be a part of their creative journey.


“Dr. Steiner has greatly impacted me as a student and writer. She introduced me to the professional writing field and I wouldn’t be a future Kohl’s employee as a communications coordinator if it weren’t for her. She has willingly devoted time to help me prepare for assignments in her classes, application materials (resumes, cover letters, interview questions). I also had the opportunity to conduct research with her this semester, which was a great experience. She is an excellent professor, mentor and communicator.” -Mary Purdy

Lindsay Steiner

Lindsay Steiner, assistant professor, Department of English
Years at UWL:
4½ years
Teaches: I generally teach professional and technical writing courses, such as supervising internships and teaching a new course, Digital Content Writing, Management, and Experience Design (ENG 310).
History: I earned an undergraduate degree in visual communication from Ohio University and worked as a photojournalist and graphic designer. I then earned masters and doctoral degrees in Rhetoric and Composition from Kent State University.
Favorite part of teaching: I am privileged to work with extremely thoughtful, engaged, and creative students, who constantly push me to be a better teacher. I regularly include client-based projects in my professional and technical writing courses, which allow students to connect theories and concepts to a very specific professional context. My favorite part of teaching is when students are able to demonstrate learning through solving a written communication “problem” that also gives back to a community partner. These moments illustrate the importance of a strong relationship between UWL and our broader community.