Professor wins Regents’ highest teaching honor

AUGUSTA, GA. – Dr. Richard Deaner, professor of counselor education at Augusta University, has been selected to receive the 2016 University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award.

Created in 1996, the Regents’ Awards program recognizes the finest among the USG faculty who significantly improve student success and demonstrate innovative teaching techniques and programs.

“We are so proud of Dr. Deaner,” said Dr. Zach Kelehear, dean of the College of Education. “As a College where we teach about teaching, it is especially important that we have impactful and engaging professors who can talk about their craft and can perform the art of teaching with superior results. I recently walked into a class of Dr. Deaner’s simply to greet the students.  His class was full and his students were clearly engaged with him as a professor. What a fantastic model he can offer.”

Deaner will be officially recognized at the annual Regents’ Scholarship Gala on April 29 in Atlanta. The award and recognition come with a $5,000 prize.

“This is a great personal honor, but I hope it also highlights the excellent quality of teaching and research being accomplished by faculty in the department and across Augusta University,” Deaner said. “Being named one of the state’s four research universities confirms the caliber of work we are already doing.”

It’s an accolade that is well deserved, said his department chair, Dr. Michelle Bryan, who recalls a time when she visited one of his classes for peer observation. She was so engrossed by the classroom conversation, and Dr. Deaner’s facilitation, that she forgot her purpose.

“I started taking notes on techniques and strategies that Rich was using to figure out how I could take them up in my own classroom,” Bryan said. “Those of us who have had the pleasure of observing him teach, or who have had him as an instructor, understand why he was nominated and why the reward is richly deserved.”

Deaner is also the recipient of the 2012-2013 Outstanding Teaching Award from Augusta University and the 2012 President’s Special Merit Award from the Southern Association of Counselor Education and Supervision. And he has been appointed the National Process Observer, and advisory position to the President of the American Counseling Association.

If you ask his students, he deserves even more awards. Summer Allen, a former M.Ed., student at Augusta University and current doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said that Deaner shaped her education through interactive dialogue and thought-provoking questions. But he also shaped her professional identity with unwavering support and encouragement, including providing opportunities to present at conferences.

“Dr. Deaner has been an exemplary role model for me,” Allen said. “Dr. Deaner believed in me until I learned to believe in myself.”

Deaner’s teaching philosophy is to provide a comfortable yet stimulating environment for learning, in which students re facilitated in free expression, choice and thought, while being guided in the ethical standards of professional counseling.

“I am constantly attempting to find ways to connect innovatively with the new generation of learners,” Deaner said. That includes showing clips from reality television shows with a subsequent class discussion on conflict management or narcissism. Deaner has developed a database with specific clips that offer practical glimpses into disorders, symptomology, addictions, human development, family dynamics, therapeutic skills, group dynamics and culture.

One former student of his is now a colleague. Kari Viola works as the Child Advocacy Center Director for Child Enrichment in Augusta. Viola said that his passion for counseling, as a professor, is contagious. But through her work with Child Enrichment, she’s seen the result of that passion.

“It is always reassuring to me when we have interns from Augusta University’s program because I know that they will be receiving supervision and guidance from Dr. Deaner to make it a smooth transition for students taking their skills to start working with clients in the community,” Viola said.

And because that transition from classroom to practice can be daunting, Deaner takes an active interest in each student’s experiences. “I believe strongly in creating service-learning opportunities where students can apply skills with real people in real settings,” he said. In addition to his award-winning teaching, Deaner is a researcher with numerous publications and presentations, and he is committed to diversity and student success.

Deaner has been on the faculty at Augusta University since 2007. He holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia; an M.Ed. in counselor education from Lynchburg College; and a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision from the University of South Carolina.

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1 comment
  • Dr. Deaner definitely deserves this award among many more. He was my advisor when I was a school counseling intern at ASU (2010-2012). He always kept us passionate for counseling and helped instill in me to always serve my students to the utmost of my ability. Also he made sure we give back by getting involved in our counseling professional organizations. I would not be where I am in the professional school counseling field without him. Congratulations Dr. Deaner!

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Committed to Making a Difference

The Augusta University College of Education is committed to being a relevant, responsive, and respected institution with a keen focus toward high impact work in the community. Our faculty, students, and alumni are committed to improving lives and expanding opportunities through the comprehensive study and effective practice of education.