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Thursday, October 10, 1996


MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University professor has been named 1996 Professor of the Year from a research and doctoral university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This is the first time a Kansas professor has won the national Professor of the Year award.

Dean Zollman, professor of physics, will be honored at a reception Oct. 10 in Washington, D.C., by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, which administers the award. A $5,000 cash prize, media exposure and a certificate of recognition are included with the award.

"I guess this is because of 25 years of worrying a lot about how to teach physics and a lot of that time spent listening to students about how to do that," Zollman said. "I find it a real challenge to explain to students why physics might be exciting."

Zollman was selected for the honor from a field of 204 professors from higher education institutions across the country.

"As a national leader in the teaching of physics at the undergraduate level, Dean Zollman is a perfect choice to win this extremely prestigious award," said K-State President Jon Wefald. "This is a very difficult competition to win, and K-State faculty, staff and students can take great pride in Dean's selection as national professor of the year."

"I am delighted that Dr. Zollman has been selected as CASE national professor of the year," said James R. Coffman, K-State provost. " The award recognizes Dr. Zollman's contributions to teaching physics using a variety of new methods, and this honor brings great distinction to him and K-State. At a time when higher education is criticized for senior faculty not teaching undergraduate courses, his selection illustrates that Kansas State University is committed to its undergraduates."

Appointed to the K-State faculty in 1970, Zollman has focused his career on making the science of physics accessible by using film, interactive videodiscs and CD-ROMs to provide students with hands-on experience to understand how physics plays a role in everyday life.

"I saw students' anxieties, fear and sometimes even hostility toward physics," Zollman said. "What I wanted to do was go out and get some real life situations where we could apply the physics in everyday life."

Zollman's work has been recognized both locally and nationally, and he has received several grants from the National Science Foundation to develop new ways of teaching physics at the collegiate and high school levels.

He is the author of several articles on the use of interactive technology in the classroom and has been honored for outstanding contributions to physics teaching by the American Association of Physics Teachers. He currently holds the University's Distinguished Teaching Scholar's Chair, a position won in a university-wide competition.

"Over the years, Dean has treated the subject of teaching of physics as a scholarly subject," said Jim Legg, head of the K-State physics department. "He is an outstanding teacher, but he's also giving a model to others across the nation on how we can improve our teaching style.

"People don't know how unique our 'Concepts of Physics' class is," Legg continued. "Dean has made it feel like a small studio physics class by getting everyone involved interactively. There's no one else in the country who teaches it like we do."

Because of his expertise, Zollman instructs a large number of future physics teachers. He finds it gratifying that many of them contact him for help in their own classrooms.

"About once a year, someone will come back and tell me they remember how I covered something and ask to borrow the necessary equipment," Zollman said. "I always give it to them."

Zollman is already in the beginning stages of his next project. He hopes to begin teaching upper level physics concepts to a general audience using interactive technology, a challenge that might be his biggest to date.

"That's the direction we're moving right now and it's risky," he said. "We're trying to take some fairly complex ideas and make them accessible. But my job ought to be to help students succeed any way they can."


For further information, contact Zollman at (913) 532-1619, Legg at (913) 532-6786 or Coffman at (913) 532-6224.


Dean A. Zollman
Professor of Physics, Kansas State University
Birthplace: Kendallville, Iowa
Family: Married to Jacqueline Spears; two children, Kim and Kevin


* Bachelor's and Master's of Science, 1964-1965, Indiana University, Bloomington
* Doctorate, 1970, from University of Maryland, College Park
* Assistant Professor, Kansas State University, 1970-1977
* Associate Professor, Kansas State University, 1977-1982
* Professor, Kansas State University, 1982-present


* Physics course for future elementary teachers based on the Learning Cycle, 1978-1995
* Quantum physics course for future secondary science teachers (using a "studio" approach), 1990-1996
* Quantum physics course for a general audience (using a "studio" approach), 1990-1996


* Fulbright Fellowship to develop teaching materials at the University of Munich, 1989
* William Stamey Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Arts and Sciences, Kansas State University, 1989
* Burlington Northern Achievement Award for contributions to undergraduate education, Kansas State University , 1992
* Robert A. Millikan Medal for outstanding contributions to physics teaching, American Association of Physics Teachers, 1995
* Kansas State University Distinguished Teaching Scholar, 1996-97

A more complete biography is available over the World Wide Web on Zollman's home page. The URL is http://bluegiant.phys.ksu.edu

Prepared by Shawn Bruce.