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UCO Alumnus Gives $10,000 to Fund Central Excellence in Teaching Award

University of Central Oklahoma alumnus Dr. J. Gail Neely recently gave $10,000 to the Excellence in Teaching Award through the UCO Foundation.

Now in its 11th year, the award is given annually to two Central professors who strive for teaching excellence inside the classroom.

This year's recipients include Dr. Wei Chen, a professor of Engineering and Physics in the College of Mathematics and Science and the 2008 U.S. Professor of the Year, and Dr. Jeanetta Sims, an assistant professor of Marketing in the College of Business Administration.

Both Chen and Sims were nominated for the award by their department chairperson. A committee comprised of representatives from Central's five colleges and the UCO Foundation selected the winners based on their answers to several questions regarding their teaching style.

Each winner received $1,000, their name inscribed on the Excellence in Teaching plaque on the UCO Wall of Honor and an invitation to join Neely and previous award winners at a luncheon in their honor.

"Dr. Neely's commitment to Central education is truly admirable," said Anne Holzberlein, vice president for development at UCO and executive director of the UCO Foundation.

"We are so grateful for his investment in not only our university but also our talented faculty who dedicate their lives to educating the next generation of leaders."

Neely, also a Central Distinguished Former Student, is a surgeon and professor at the Washington University School of Medicine.

In 1999, he started the award at Central as a way to encourage excellent teaching and to honor his first teachers - his parents El Roy and Lucile Hawker Neely, who was also a Central graduate.

The UCO Foundation raises funds to support the mission and the goals of the university which includes scholarship support for students and development of relationships with alumni, friends, donors, and the campus community.

For more information, contact the UCO Foundation at (405) 974-2770.

(UCO Excellence in Teaching award recipients Dr. Wei Chen (left), a professor of Engineering and Physics in the College of Mathematics and Science and the 2008 U.S. Professor of the Year, and Dr. Jeanetta Sims, an assistant professor of Marketing in the College of Business Administration pose with award creator and Central alumnus Dr. J. Gail Neely at a luncheon in their honor.)


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