Engineering Professor Receives Top Teaching Award

Hilger Honored at Bank of America Founder's Hall Ceremony

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Sept. 28, 2007 Terms such as passion and dedication were used when students and colleagues were asked to describe Helene Hilger, who was selected Friday night as the 2007 recipient of the highest teaching honor bestowed by UNC Charlotte the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence.

Hilger, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, was chosen from a prestigious list of finalists. Also nominated this year for their commitment to excellence in teaching were:

Harold H. Jaus, professor of education.
Ronald A. Madsen, professor of economics.
Jordan Poler, associate professor of chemistry.
Coral Barborie Wayland, associate professor of anthropology.

The five nominees were honored during the evening ceremony and gala attended by hundreds of UNC Charlotte faculty members and their guests, Friday, Sept. 28, at Founder's Hall in the Bank of America Corporate Center.

"We have an incredible faculty at UNC Charlotte and the list of nominees for the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence speaks volumes about our intellectual capital," said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. "I congratulate all of the finalists this year for this most prestigious recognition. Helene Hilger should be very proud to have been selected from among such a talented and dedicated group of colleagues."

All five honorees drew strong praise from their students and peers at UNC Charlotte.

"Her passion for the environment and for helping students understand their role in both protecting and engineering the earth led to my decision to further pursue an education in environmental engineering," wrote one of Hilger's former students.

Other current and former students commented on how Hilger engages a mix of undergraduate and graduate students in group activities and in her research projects, how she always has time for students, and the excellent role model and advisor she is for them.

"Dr. Hilger blends theory and practice, field work and class/lab work, and brings reality and emerging engineering concepts to her classes via her personal experiences," said a faculty colleague.

Having begun teaching in 1979, Hilger notes that she worked hard to develop successful learning tools that include group design projects, hands-on demonstrations designed by small groups, required field trips and poster reports, bingo and Jeopardy games to teach concepts, extra credit for performance of thematic songs she has written on class topics, and an annual hunger feast to demonstrate how few in the world have safe drinking water.

"I work hard to win my students' interest because even after all these years of teaching, I am still impressed by the power of what a civil engineering graduate can do," she said. "With a mere bachelor's degree in hand, she or he can contribute to solving some of the most pressing environmental problems that exist in the developed and developing world."

About UNC Charlotte
A public research university, UNC Charlotte is the fourth largest campus among the 17 institutions of the University of North Carolina system. It is the largest institution of higher education in the Charlotte region. The university offers 18 doctoral programs, 61 master's degree programs and 89 programs leading to bachelor's degrees. Fall 2007 enrollment exceeds 22,300 students, including almost 4,800 graduate students.

                                                           # # #

Media contact: Paul Nowell, 704-687-2393 

Posted on Mon, Oct. 01, 2007
UNCC professor wins BofA award
UNC Charlotte associate professor Helene Hilger is this year's recipient of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, the school's highest faculty honor.

 She was presented with the honor during a ceremony Friday.
Hilger teaches in the department of civil and environmental engineering. She has taught full time at UNCC since 1998, though she had previously spent several years as a lecturer.

 On Sunday, she said it was truly affirming when her colleagues came out to Friday's ceremony to support and congratulate her.

 Hilger, who specializes in environmental engineering, said she's pleased with the field's growing emphasis on the environment and sustainability issues.

 In nominating Hilger, students and faculty members praised her for involving students with her research projects, and her ability to blend theory and practice.

 This is actually Hilger's second brush with the BofA award: husband Arnie Cann, a longtime UNCC psychology professor, was himself a finalist about 15 years ago.