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Lakeland College's Rick Dodgson, an assistant professor of history, is the 2012 winner of the annual Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
Dodgson, who is in his fifth year as a member of Lakeland's faculty, is Lakeland's 21st winner of the Underkofler, an award that recognizes outstanding performance in undergraduate teaching.
The Underkofler Award was presented on April 4 at Lakeland's Honors Convocation Banquet, which honors academic accomplishments of students and faculty.
Dodgson was recognized for creating an engaging environment in the classroom, his work with students and his efforts to lift Lakeland's presence in the community.
"Whether we are discussing the Rwanda genocide, the Great Depression or what sparked the Civil War, I am continually in awe of his abilities to grab my attention and hold onto it," said Matt Bauknecht, a junior from Reedsville majoring in history. "Sitting in his classes is providing me an amazing opportunity to be mentored and absorb a teaching style I hope to one day emulate in my own classroom."
Rich Wixon, Lakeland's Offenheiser Chair in History and Political Science, said he observed an exercise Dodgson used in one of his classes, and was impressed with the way students were drawn into the subject matter.
"The students not only learned about the 1960s, but about how historians reconstruct the past by drawing on limited information," said Wixon, a former Underkofler winner. "This approach kept the class actively engaged on a Friday afternoon, and it required the students to make sure they had read the required materials prior to class."
This spring, Dodgson initiated a pair of debates for Sheboygan's historic mayoral recall election that were co-sponsored by Lakeland and The Sheboygan Press. He moderated both events and found ways for students in Lakeland's History Club to also get involved.
Before coming to Lakeland, Dodgson was an assistant professor of history at the University of Martin at Tennessee. He also worked as an adjunct professor in history and political science at Ohio University and as an ETD instructor in Ohio's graduate student services.
He is the author of numerous papers and presentations, and is writing a book about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. He has work extensively on the Lakeland Oral History Project, an effort dedicated to collecting oral histories related to the college. He is also a music enthusiast who performs occasionally at local venues.
Dodgson has a bachelor's degree in American studies and social anthropology from the University of Wales in the United Kingdom and a master's in political science theory and a doctorate in history (primary field: 20th century America) from Ohio University. He has won several academic awards, including a Contemporary History Fellowship, the Elizabeth Baker Peace Fund Award and a Student Enhancement research grant.
The Underkofler Award is presented through the Alliant Energy Foundation and the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges, Inc. The Underkofler Endowment Fund was created in honor of past Wisconsin Power & Light president and chairman James R. Underkofler to recognize his 48 years of service to the utility industry.