Alumni Faculty Excellence Awards Recognize Achievements in Teaching and Research

For more than 50 years, the Alumni Faculty Excellence Awards have served as an opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions and achievements of the University’s faculty members.

Alumni Faculty Excellence Honorees: Jason Courtmanche, Kevin McEvoy, Ann Marie Garran, Hans Dam, Thomas Blum, and David Wagner

For more than 50 years, the University of Connecticut Alumni Faculty Excellence Awards have served as an opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions and achievements of the University’s faculty members to the institution, their current and former students, and their respective areas of academic discipline.

The UConn Foundation and the Office of the Provost are pleased to announce the honorees for these awards for 2022 and 2021. They each receive $500 and will be recognized together in a celebration in Fall 2022.

“The Alumni Faculty Excellence Awards are a strong tradition at UConn, honoring dozens of our most exceptional faculty for their research and teaching over several decades. I am pleased to congratulate the latest recipients of this enduring honor,” said Montique “Mo” Cotton Kelly, Senior Vice President for Stakeholder Engagement and Chief Operating Officer for the UConn Foundation.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Jason Courtmanche (2022)
  • Kevin McEvoy (2021)

Jason Courtmanche is an assistant professor in residence and assistant coordinator of Early College Education in the Department of English, as well as director of the Connecticut Writing Project. In his role as assistant coordinator, he works closely with current teachers who offer First-Year Writing classes to engage future Huskies. He typically visits at least 15 schools for classroom observations and leads workshops at one or two Early College Experience (English) conferences per year. Additionally, as an affiliate faculty member in the Neag School of Education, he advises prospective English teachers and participates in interviews for students seeking admission to the IB/M and TCPCG degrees. Courtmanche is with students every step of the way as they enter college, journey through college, and when they leave to enter the workforce. His passion for student success is clear by his commitment to cultivate strong learners and future leaders.

Kevin McEvoy is assistant professor in residence in the Department of Marketing in the School of Business. Before joining UConn full time in 2004, McEvoy was a marketing executive, experience he draws upon to teach his students about the professional realities of the field. Colleagues noted his passion for teaching, frequently using a variety of tools to augment the class experience. This includes interactive and compelling audio, visual, and online materials; creation of a learning tool, called  The Personal Toolbox, a method for self-directed learning and retention; and regular presentations by industry experts as guest speakers in class. He has received several awards for his teaching, and also consistently receives SET scores well above the average in his department, the School of Business, and the university.

Graduate Teaching

  • Ann Marie Garran (2022)
  • Hans Dam (2021)

Ann Marie Garran is an associate professor in the School of Social Work. She became the director of the master’s in social work (MSW) program in 2016, where she has been integral to promoting new policies, programs, and initiatives for MSW students. Her research in the intersectionality of power, privilege, and oppression as it pertains to social work education, is highlighted in the courses she teaches. One such course that students praise her for delivering eloquently and thoughtfully is her “Human Oppression” course, which can be tough at times but important, nonetheless. Dr. Garran thoughtfully designs engaging and effective learning experiences for students in her classroom, even when discussing some of the most harrowing topics. Her students see her as someone who is accommodating, patient, and thorough in her commitment to her classes and the community she builds.

Hans Dam is a professor of Marine Sciences. He has helped to shape the next generation of oceanographers through formal courses, research mentorship, and professional development at regional, national and international levels. Dam has been primary advisor for 21 graduate students at UConn and has published 58 peer-reviewed papers with his students, an average of more than two per year since his first advisee at UConn. He has taught a number of critical graduate courses in the Marine Sciences, including over 20 years team-teaching Biological Oceanography, a required core graduate-level course. One of his most enduring contributions to graduate education in Marine Sciences is the creation of the biennial Feng Research Colloquium, which was launched as part of an NSF CAREER award more than 25 years ago. The colloquium honors Sung Yen Feng, the founding head of Marine Sciences, and encourages participation by all graduate students in the department to submit an abstract and present a talk or poster, giving them critical experience in presenting in professional settings. Dam has also led the professional development program for students in the department.

Research & Creativity (Sciences)

  • Thomas Blum (2022)
  • David Wagner (2021)

Thomas Blum came to UConn in 2004 and is a professor and associate department head for undergraduate education in the Physics Department. As a theoretical physicist, Blum specializes in making difficult, detailed mathematical calculations concerning how basic theories of physics, such as quantum mechanics, play out in setting the properties and behavior of matter, in his case the tiniest particles known. Notably, Blum is able to figure out how to perform calculations that others have found not possible. He has held visiting professorships at KEK in Japan, CERN in Switzerland, and the Helmholtz Institute in Germany. He has also won research awards including an Outstanding Junior Investigator award from the US Department of Energy, the Ken Wilson Award (top award in his subfield), is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and was named a Fermilab Distinguished Scholar. At the same time, he is also a dedicated mentor, who supports the development of junior colleagues, and undergraduate and graduate students.

David Wagner is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He is an internationally recognized leader in the study of biodiversity, evolution, and conservation of insects, in particular of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies).  He and his extensive group of students and international colleagues have made an enormous impact since he joined UConn in 1988. Nomination materials emphasized a prolific publication record, publishing over 130 major papers, 80-plus shorter papers, and more than 3,500 pages published in 12 books. His book “Caterpillars of Eastern North America” (Princeton University Press, 2005) won a national book award and is in its 10th printing. Wagner has also engaged in several activities to extend the reach of his and his colleagues’ research beyond the university. This includes frequent appearances on radio and TV interviews, including national and local NPR appearances. He has also broadened biodiversity and environmental engagement, organizing camps for middle school children in East Hartford and Hartford,  as well as leading a multi-year effort as a University Senator to add Environmental Literacy to UConn’s general education requirements. This spring, Wagner was elected into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.