Ivanova honored with BOR Excellence in Teaching Award

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Date: Monday, December 17, 2007
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Dr. Raina (Reni) Ivanova, professor of mathematics at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, received the UH Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award. The prestigious honor was presented at the Fall 2007 Commencement, held December 15 at the UH Hilo New Gym.

The award is given to a full-time faculty member who demonstrates mastery of the subject matter in courses taught, displays skills in teaching and creativity, and exhibits personal values beneficial to students. Ivanova, who joined UH Hilo in 2002, has previously received numerous national and international honors and awards for outstanding research and excellence in teaching.

“I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the UH Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award,” Ivanova said. “Each of my previous recognitions is precious to me, but this one is extra special. It recognizes the hard work of my students and their courage for refusing to give up when the going gets tough. I am grateful that they trust me and let me lead them to go further and reach higher. Mens agitat molem: minds can move mountains.”

Ivanova, who has worked in Europe, Asia and the United States, said she has been fortunate to have such a rewarding international career in teaching and research. She describes research as the part of her work that provides the intellectual challenge and professional excitement, and teaching as her love and passion. But it’s her students she cites as the reason she has loved “every hour of every day” she has spent in the classroom during her 28 years of teaching. Dr. Mitchell Anderson, chair of the mathematics department, said Ivanova is precisely the type of professor for which the award was created.

“She is a dynamic and innovative teacher, exceedingly caring about the well-being of her students. She is the best motivational speaker for mathematics I have ever encountered,” Anderson said. “She always goes well above and beyond what is normally expected from a university faculty member.”

Ivanova has initiated several programs to inspire her students to exceed their self-imposed limits, prepare for successful careers in science and other fields, and become lifelong learners. Her initiatives include the “Reach for the Stars” program, in which ordinary people with extraordinary careers speak to students about the value of hard work and dedication, an International Symposium for Calculus III and IV students, in which they conduct research and present their results in a conference setting, and a new program for teaching and learning calculus for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students, “STEM Student Success Trough Enhanced Math” (STEM SSTEM Program).

Last March, Ivanova presented her “Enhanced Math” model at the National OnCourse Conference for Educators in Dallas. In June, she presented her new STEM SSTEM Program at the International Teaching-Learning Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

“Dr. Ivanova is that special type of educator who manages to make the most difficult subject matter understandable to her students and, in doing so, brings out the best of their abilities,” said Chancellor Rose Tseng. “I can think of no one more deserving of this honor.”

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