May 19, 2006

Students honor graduate studies dean with Diekhoff award

Rozek to receive honor for teaching and improving graduate education at Case


Since becoming Dean of the School of Graduate Studies 18 months ago, Charles Rozek, has worked to improve campus-wide representation on the Graduate Student Senate and to open avenues of communication between graduate students and the university administration.

He said he sees this as one of his major contributions so far as Dean.

Case's graduate students have recognized his efforts inside and outside Case's classrooms as this year's recipient of the John S. Diekhoff Award for Distinguished Graduate Teaching.

"I am gratified and honored. This is a significant award for a Case faculty member to receive," said a humble Rozek.

In addition to his administrative duties, Rozek is also a biology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. For the past five years, he has taught the course, "Genetics," to undergraduate and graduate students from many disciplines across the university. For a number of years he also taught the course "Genes and Genetic Engineering." He feels that his teaching has improved over the years especially after participating in the Teaching Fellows program offered by UCITE.

As the Dean of Graduate Studies, Rozek oversees the education of approximately 2,400 master's and doctorate degree students in every school at Case. He also has responsibilities for the welfare of the postdoctoral fellows and scholars. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs which is part of the Office of Graduate Studies has instituted the popular First Friday Lunches in the Biomedical Research Building which provides a means for research personnel to network.

The office has also established a Postdoctoral Research Association which has a steering committee to sound out issues important to postdocs. Another major accomplish of the office was to institute a health benefits package beyond medical care to include dental, vision and life insurance coverage.

Rozek said he was impressed with the Diekhoff Award interviews where he encountered many of the students in his associations with the Graduate Student Senate and its committees.

"They asked some tough questions. I felt it was rigorous like a dissertation defense," said Rozek, reflecting on how these questions raised issues that are important to graduate students.

The Diekhoff committee asked him such questions as the worst mistake he ever made in the classroom to what he would do in several hypothetical situations.

The questions made Rozek think about what he has done since he joined Case's faculty in 1983 after completing his bachelor's of science degree from Michigan State University in psychology, his doctorate degree in molecular genetics from Wayne State University and his postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology.

While at Cal Tech, Rozek encountered two people who became role models for teaching and working with graduate students to help them develop their career pathways.

The first person was his postdoctoral mentor Norman Davidson. "He respected you as an individual by taking the time to listen to explanations about research and then discussing them," said Rozek.

The other person was Edward B. Lewis, who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1995 who imparted the importance of following research that truly interests the researcher.

Rozek talked about how Lewis made important discoveries in obscure areas of genetics that eventually would be understood following the decoding of the genome—years after his discoveries.

"I expressed to the Diekhoff Committee the joys of being a mentor and watching the progress of students until they get to the point where they begin to think through the experiments, interpret the results and then design the next experiment," said Rozek.

He also reflects on the excitement and gratitude he feels when his students leave Case for prestigious institutions to undertake postdoctoral fellowships, which are required in the sciences before obtaining a faculty position.

Over the years at Case, Rozek said he has come to realize what a unique opportunity Case students have: "We have a small student to faculty ratio, which allows students and teachers to get to know each other and work together."

For more information: Susan Griffith 216-368-1004.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, May 19, 2006 10:21 AM | News Topics: Awards, Graduate Studies, HeadlinesMain

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