UW-Whitewater: Education professor wins Teacher of Honor award

An education professor known for building people-to-people connections around the world has won a top award honoring his national and international work at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Guoli Liang, a professor in the College of Education and Professional Studies, received the Teacher of Honor award from Kappa Delta Pi, the 100-year-old international honor society in education.

“I call him the great connector,” said Katy Heyning, dean of the college. “He’s great at connecting people. He’s very good at getting people to work together to improve the profession.”

Liang is an expert in human motor development and has been a UW-Whitewater faculty member since 2001 in the Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Coaching Department.

He’s believed to be the first UW-Whitewater recipient of the Teacher of Honor award. “It’s a big, big honor, and I think it’s pretty exciting for us,” Heyning said.

Liang is well-known for his enthusiastic leadership on campus and in the Whitewater community, where he developed free evening Chinese language courses that linked international students with the people and culture of Wisconsin.

“That’s a wonderful experience for the international students, to know this community, to have their roots in a small town like this,” Liang said.

He leads faculty exchanges with Chinese colleagues and oversees education students from UW-Whitewater doing their student teaching in Shanghai.

Liang is directing a large international collaboration on kinesiology textbooks and international conferences between Chinese scholars and professionals and their counterparts from the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Europe. Kinesiology is the academic discipline that studies human movement and its impact on health, society and quality of life. It includes physical education, performance training, coaching, recreation, athletic training and rehabilitation.

“It’s not only getting books published, but also getting people connected,” he said. “Get people together and they will work together.”

Under Liang’s guidance, the UW-Whitewater student chapter of Kappa Delta Pi has grown from three members to 84 members in two years. He reminds his students they may find themselves working far from Wisconsin.

“Nowadays the world has changed, so their education should be not only local but national and international,” he said.

Liang was nominated for the Teacher of Honor award by Suzanne Zentner, former superintendent of the Whitewater Unified School District, who called him an indispensable member of the community.

“Dr. Liang is driven, energetic, passionate, has vision and follow-through – all essential ingredients in making a difference,” Zentner said in her nomination.

Liang is the seventh 2011 recipient of the Kappa Delta Pi award, which recognizes leadership, community service and a commitment to integrity and high standards in the classroom. Kappa Delta Pi, founded in 1911 to foster excellence in education, has grown to a worldwide organization with 582 chapters and more than 45,000 members. Historically known members include Albert Einstein, Jean Piaget, John Dewey, Margaret Mead and George Washington Carver.

Liang holds degrees from two universities in China and received his master’s degree in educational psychology and his Ed.D. in physical education teacher education from West Virginia University in Morgantown.

Liang’s award will be presented by UW-Whitewater Chancellor Richard Telfer on Sept. 1 as the College of Education and Professional Studies kicks off the academic year with an event at Whitewater University Technology Park.