Cameron University’s Dr. Gary Buckley, Professor of Physical Science in the Department of Chemistry, Physics and Engineering, has been honored as the 2015 recipient of the Harold and Elizabeth Hackler Award for Teaching Excellence, Cameron’s highest faculty honor. The Hackler Lectureship in Teaching Excellence was established in 1996 by Cameron alumni Harold and Elizabeth Hackler to recognize outstanding contributions by faculty in the lives of Cameron students.
“The selection committee for the Hackler Award, has chosen an eminently deserving recipient in Dr. Gary Buckley,” says Dr. Ronna Vanderslice, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Throughout his tenure at Cameron University, Dr. Buckley has served in a number of roles. No matter what his position, his dedication and commitment to students always comes first.”
Through the endowment, Buckley will receive a stipend and a grant for professional development. His name will be added to the Hackler Award honor roll plaque.
The student who nominated Buckley noted that he inspired her to become a chemistry major. She also cited his commitment to student success by writing, “Dr. Buckley is always more than willing to provide additional help for anyone who needs it and doesn’t ever make the student feel like they are imposing.” She also wrote of his selfless service and mutual respect for his students, indicating “This professor goes above and beyond to show each of his students fair and genuine care. The important key is his ability to show genuine interest in helping others.”
“I intend for students in my classes to acquire the necessary skill sets for further study as well as an appreciation for the nuances of science,” Buckley says of his teaching philosophy. He does so by offering “an encouraging setting that builds their confidence, extends their range of problem-solving ability, and helps them understand the extensions of topics to other areas.”
Whether he is teaching an upper division majors class, an undergraduate science course, a lab or a general education course, Buckley builds key characteristics into every classroom situation. These include:
- A comfortable learning environment in the classroom that includes an unforced interactive atmosphere, an awareness by students that he is accessible to help them with the learning process both in and out of the classroom, and an adult approach to human interaction,
- Topics that are introduced from a conceptual standpoint followed by developing the level of mathematics necessary for the given class,
- Encouraging students to be prepared in advance of class to both improve their ability to learn as well as their classroom interaction, and
- A flexible class approach based on class progress and classroom interaction.
Although he has been teaching for almost 30 years, Buckley starts each class with a new approach, purging his previous notes and setting aside time at the beginning of each class period to focus on the upcoming class.
“I don’t necessarily forget everything I have learned from previous classes, but it sure seems like I get to add a new twist or two each semester,” he says. “That is exactly what keeps teaching exciting and fulfilling. As you are providing students with opportunities for success down the road, they are supplying you with an inordinate number of challenges, no matter how long you have been teaching.”
Buckley earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from Texas A&M University, where he also earned a master of science in that subject. He has a bachelor of science in chemistry with minors in math and biology from Northern Illinois University. Buckley joined the Cameron faculty in 1977 as a special instructor, then returned in 1986. In addition to his teaching assignment, he has served as Dean of the School of Science and Technology and as Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Previous university honors include induction into the Cameron University Alumni Association Faculty Hall of Fame, 2014 Faculty Award for Excellence and Innovation in Instructional Technology Integration, and the Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Faculty Award.
Recipients of the Harold and Elizabeth Hackler Teaching Excellence Award are selected based on nominations from faculty and students. All faculty who have been regular full-time members of the CU faculty for at least three years and hold an appointment as an assistant professor or higher are eligible. The candidate’s principle assignment must be teaching.
November 3, 2015