University News

Bucknall Excellence in Teaching Award Goes to Popular Biology Professor

University of New Haven professor Rosemary Whelan, an expert in pharmacology, was recognized for her commitment in and out of the classroom with an award created by a longtime University benefactor.

January 11, 2018

Bucknall Excellence in Teaching Award Goes to Popular Biology Professor
Rosemary Whelan accepting Bucknall Excellence in Teaching Award

Rosemary Whelan, coordinator of the University of New Haven’s biology major and its program in biotechnology and genetics, has received the University's prestigious William L. Bucknall Excellence in Teaching Award, which provides an honorarium of $15,000 as well as $10,000 to support new teaching initiatives by the recipient.

"I love teaching at the University of New Haven because I have the opportunity to help my students grow over the course of their four years of study," she said. "Their metamorphosis from unsure first-year students to competent scientists and researchers in their final years of study is amazing."

Whelan leads classes in the fields of biology, biochemistry, and biotechnology. She is esteemed by her students for creating an active learning environment in her classes and for supporting high-impact opportunities outside of the classroom, such as research experiences, field trips, and internships. She has also led intensive study abroad trips to Ireland, England, and Iceland that enable her students to gain first-hand experience in the biotech industry.

"I use student-centered teaching techniques that empower students to take control of their own learning, giving them confidence and preparing them for the next step in their careers, whether that is employment, graduate school, or medical school."Rosemary Whelan, Lecturer and Biology Coordinator

Whelan, who received both her bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from University College in Dublin, Ireland. "Following my students’ careers after they leave the ‘nest’ of the University is wonderful."

The award, named for William L. Bucknall, Jr. ’63 A.S., ’65, a longtime University supporter and vice chair of its Board of Governors, was made possible by Bucknall and his daughters, Elise Bucknall and Kristin Loranger. Bucknall received an honorary doctorate in business administration from the University of New Haven in 2008.

University President Steven Kaplan noted that the award is exceptionally generous for a mid-sized university like the University of New Haven. "It helps make the Bucknall Excellence in Teaching Award especially meaningful and demonstrates how important we feel good teaching is," he explained. "Oftentimes, faculty members are honored, and deservedly so, for their research, but thanks to the Bucknall family, we were able to reward a faculty member for developing extraordinary courses and exemplary instruction," he added.

A colleague summed up the breadth and depth of Whelan’s commitment to her students this way: "It is one thing to be a great teacher to those in your select program, but you rise to a whole new level of great teaching when you are committed to the education of all students. Dr. Whelan’s commitment to not only her own students but also to all students is the hallmark of great teaching."

Whelan’s dedication to teaching also extends to assisting fellow faculty, helping them to enhance their classroom skills by introducing them to the methodology known as Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL).

Said one colleague, "I will never forget her POGIL seminar several years ago, where she put us — her fellow teachers — in a completely different learning environment and made us realize how real learning happens. I walked out from this workshop energized and ready to bring a true student-centered learning environment to my very next class."