CU professor selected for first Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University

Cameron University's Dr. T.K. Bhattacharya has been announced as the first winner of the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University/Community College, presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. He will receive the prestigious award at the foundation's 23rd annual Academic Awards Banquet on May 16 in Norman. Dr. Bhattacharya, a professor of finance, is one of five Oklahoma public school educators to receive the Medal for Excellence this year.

"The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has chosen well, as Dr. Bhattacharya exemplifies excellence as a teacher, as a valued member of the financial community in southwest Oklahoma, and as someone who has a tremendous impact on the lives of his students," says Dr. John McArthur, CU Vice President for Academic Affairs. "Certainly he is a role model for everyone in higher education, and we are fortunate that he has chosen to make Cameron his teaching home."

"I am deeply honored that the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has deemed me worthy of this prestigious award," says Dr. Bhattacharya. "Achieving excellence in the classroom is not an individual accomplishment. Whatever success I achieve is made possible by my colleagues at Cameron University, who have fostered an environment conducive to an excellent learning environment for students, and by my current and former students, whose zest for knowledge and creativity has inspired me and has made teaching such a rewarding experience."

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence presents Medals for Excellence annually to outstanding Oklahoma teachers, one each at the elementary and secondary levels and to an administrator from the elementary or secondary level. This marks the first year that the foundation will present two Medals for Excellence in higher education teaching - one at the community college/regional university level and one at the research university level. In the past, a single award was presented annually in the overall category of college and university teaching.

A former business executive, Dr. Bhattacharya decided at the age of 40 to give up his career as a marketing manager to begin the "best years of his life" as a teacher. Bhattacharya combines theory with hands-on experiences to make learning exciting and improve student retention levels. Through his pioneering courses in Portfolio Management I and II, students manage real money bond and stock portfolios, work as a group to prepare an investment plan for a real client and do a research paper that is presented at an academic conference. The bond portfolio is funded by a $1 million line of credit from BancFirst, and profits from the bond portfolio have been used to fund the stock portfolio as well as other Cameron projects such as endowed lectureships. The classes culminate in a formal presentation to senior executives of the bank, stockholders and university officials.

While Professor Bhattacharya is known for his highly demanding course work, students consistently rank him among the top professors at Cameron and praise him for his engaging teaching strategies and kindness. "What a wonderful world it would be if all professors would be like Dr. T.K. Bhattacharya," wrote a former student. "He is someone who really takes his job seriously and is always determined to touch a student's life in the best way possible."

In addition to Dr. Bhattacharya, the 2009 recipients of the Medals for Excellence are Georgie Chapuis, Sadler Arts Academy, Muskogee, elementary level; Claudia Swisher, Norman North High School, Norman, secondary level; Dr. Andrew Arena Jr., professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, research university level; and Barbara Gabel, fine arts coordinator for Putnam City Public Schools, Oklahoma City, elementary/secondary administration.

Each of the honorees will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a glass "Roots and Wings" sculpture, created by Oklahoma artist Ron Roberts and produced by Jim Triffo of Oklahoma City.

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February 26, 2009
PR#09-047