NU System-wide Awards go to UNK’s Max McFarland, Department of Political Science

Dr. Max McFarland
chair and professor, Department of Counseling & School Psychology, 308.865.8318

Every year the University of Nebraska recognizes select professors and one department from the entire system (UNO, UNL, UNK, UNMC) as winners of the university’s most prestigious awards for teaching and research. The University of Nebraska at Kearney received both the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA) and the University-wide Departmental Teaching Award (UDTA) for 2003.

The OTICA was awarded to Max A. McFarland, professor of counseling and school psychology at UNK. This award seeks to recognize individual faculty members for sustained records of excellence in teaching and is accompanied by a $3,500 grant.

UNK’s Political Science Department won the UDTA for 2003. This award is given to a department that has made unique and significant contributions to teaching, and carries with it a $25,000 grant to the department.

Both will be officially honored on April 9 at a luncheon in the Nebraska Student Union.

According to one of the nomination letters for Dr. McFarland, he has, “broken old paradigms, because he has created innovative practices across the curriculum to enhance the training of productive and successful school psychologists.”

A few of these innovations include: coordination of National Association of School Psychologist accreditation for the School Psychology program at UNK (only one of 90 Education Specialist Programs in the nation); establishment of the Professional Development Seminar Series; creation of a 300-clock hour professional development requirement for students; development of public school partnerships; development of interdisciplinary program offerings and more.

The letter went on to say that, “…Dr. McFarland has taken the initiative, challenged those around him to ‘get out of the comfort zone,’ and created experiences that provide students with the knowledge to implement current ‘best practice’ in school psychology.”

Max McFarland received his B.S, M.S. Ed. and his Ed. S. from Kearney State College in 1975, 1976 and 1977 respectively. After receiving his doctorate from the University of South Dakota in 1986 he returned to UNK to teach.

UNK’s Political Science Department, chaired by Dr. James Scott, was the department-wide winner for 2003. According to its nomination material, the Political Science department is a priority program with well-prepared, diverse, productive and award-winning faculty members who continually have highly positive impacts on their current and former students. One external nomination letter says, “The department’s accomplishments in the classroom, out of the classroom, and in the arena of innovative programs and efforts makes them stand head-and-shoulders above most other undergraduate departments of Political Science in the nation.”

The department engages its students in innovative, student-centered teaching that requires students to take “ownership of learning.” One nomination letter affirms this when it says, “The department’s concerns with both excellence in teaching and in learning can be demonstrated by their participation in teaching workshops both on- and off-campus, their commitment to a ‘writing across the curriculum’ approach, their securing of funding for a wireless computer lab, their creation of a required senior seminar ‘capstone’ course and the requirement of each graduating senior have ‘exit interviews’ to re-evaluate the department’s success each year.”

The department has grown extensively in the past years in areas of student internships, majors, minors and degrees awarded, but also in student research and collaborative student-faculty research within the department.

Other awards and recipients for 2003 include:

Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (ORTICA):
William J. “Jim” Lewis, professor of mathematics and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, UNL

Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award (ORCA):
Stephen W. Ragsdale, professor of biochemistry, University of Nebraska at Lincoln and John D. Turner, professor of religious studies and professor of classics and history, UNL.