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Statistics Professor Nominated for U.S. Professors of the Year Award

by Whitney Harder

(Dec. 1, 2014) – William Rayens, University of Kentucky statistics professor, was recently honored for his work in undergraduate education with a nomination in the 2014 U.S. Professors of the Year awards program.

“Teaching may well be the most important enterprise we engage in as professors, and I was thrilled to be asked to compete for one of the 2014 awards," said Rayens.

Rayens, director of undergraduate education in the Department of Statistics, developed the general education course "STA 210: Intro to Statistical Reasoning," implemented in the fall of 2011. Serving as assistant provost for general education in the Division of Undergraduate Education for two years, Rayens also guided the implementation of the university's general education program, the UK Core.

“Dr. Rayens has been a national pioneer in creative pedagogy in statistics. The STA 210 course he designed so that students can meet the Statistical Inferential Reasoning requirement in UK Core is exceptionally innovative and defines the cutting edge of instruction in statistics nationally," said Ted Schatzki, senior associate dean of faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Schatzki, a professor of geography and philosophy, nominated Rayens for the U.S. Professors of the Year award.

According to Schatzki, the general education statistics course was one of the first "flipped" courses in the U.S., where students are first exposed to the content outside of class time, opening up time in the classroom for active learning with case studies, and student-led activities and demonstrations.

"Moreover, despite its size, it receives very high student evaluations in comparison to other large introductory courses," Schatzki said. "The demands on Bill to develop the (STA 210) course and keep it running were and remain immense, and if it were not for his dedication and grit, UK Core would not have been a success."

Sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program recognizes outstanding undergraduate instructors who excel in teaching and mentoring.

“It was an honor to be nominated and I appreciate all the coordination work by Senior Associate Dean Schatzki, as well as the time and effort taken by reviewers who wrote on my behalf,” said Rayens.

Cindy Tucker, associate professor of computer and information technologies at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, was named the 2014 Kentucky Professor of the Year.