Colorado State University Veterinary Professor Receives National Teaching Award

Colorado State University professor Ray Whalen received the National Carl J. Norden-Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award in recognition of exemplary teaching impact and excellence. The 2006 award, which will be given during a ceremony March 4, recognizes collegiate veterinary medicine teachers on local and national levels. Dr. Whalen is being recognized as a national award winner.

Dr. Whalen is lauded by his colleagues for unwavering commitment to improving the learning environment for students in the college. He has won numerous awards for his teaching skills.

One example of his commitment to making the classroom exciting is his development of a computer simulated anatomy laboratory DVD to enhance the learning environment in anatomy laboratory settings. Traditional settings provide limited access to instructors, so the DVD enables students to answer most questions for themselves while gaining confidence in their knowledge of functional anatomy.

Whalen’s DVD now is used by other veterinary medicine programs to teach anatomy across the globe. He obtained the equipment, computer hardware and computer programming skills for the project himself. He captured three-dimensional, highly detailed images at each step of dissection that can be rotated and studied by students while simultaneously performing dissections. He pursued funding for computer equipment placed in the anatomy laboratory at Colorado State.

"Dr. Whalen’s quest for innovation is driven by two factors," said Lance Perryman, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "The first is his commitment to simplify complex concepts to improve understanding and retention of information by students exposed to the material for the first time in their educational careers. His second quest for innovation involves improving the way anatomy is taught at the university, which he very effectively accomplished with the development of the DVD. When combined with his insightful lectures, Dr. Whalen has been able to demystify complex material and improve the educational experience for hundreds of professional veterinary medical students educated at Colorado State."

Dr. Whalen joined the faculty at Colorado State in 1982. Among numerous awards, he was named a University Distinguished Professor in 2003, the highest commendation awarded by the university. Only 12 faculty members are granted this designation, and they hold the position for the remainder of their faculty appointments.

"All deans are fortunate to have faculty members who are devoted to students and dedicated to providing the best educational experience possible with existing resources," Perryman said. "Dr. Whalen is our quintessential example at Colorado State. His teaching innovations span more than two decades and now impact students around the world."