To be honored for teaching excellence . . .

UW-Richland’s Emerson is named 2010 Underkofler Award winner

Dr. Norlene Emerson, geologist and member of the University of Wisconsin-Richland faculty has been chosen as a 2010 Alliant Energy Underkofler Teaching Award recipient, the eighth UW-Richland faculty member to earn this prestigious award since it was established in 1991.

“We are so fortunate to have her here for our students,” said UW-Richland campus executive officer and dean Dr. Deborah B. Cureton. “By all accounts—from students, faculty, colleagues, and community members—Dr. Norlene Emerson is a master teacher. Not only do students praise her teaching, but peer visits result in rave reviews as well. It’s evident that both students and colleagues appreciate the depth of knowledge and genuine excitement she brings to teaching and student learning.”

One of those student accounts is from Stacey Olson, Lone Rock, who said, “I am not a geology major and did not look forward to taking my initial geology class, but I can truly say that I have found her classes to be extremely educational and rewarding. I have been fortunate to be touched by her outstanding teaching gifts.”

Former student Jessica Thering, Plain, said, “Norlene assisted her students in realizing that there was a world out there; not just our world, but many other worlds that came before us in geologic time. She engaged everyone around her, in and out classes, to want to learn, excel, and be challenged. She’s known for being charismatic, humorous, studious, willing, helpful, reliable,responsible, and as a friend and mentor of virtually everyone she’s in contact with.”

Emerson is one of four teachers chosen for the 2010 honor from the many eligible faculty at UW campuses within Alliant Energy’s service are that includes UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, and UW Colleges campuses at Baraboo, Fond du Lac, Richland Center, Rock County, and Sheboygan. The Underkofler Award, intended to recognize and reward extraordinary teachers, comes with a $3,500 prize funded by Alliant Energy. Emerson plans to use her award to research ways to engage students in geologic problem solving and to help them develop specific skills that are important in geology.

Emerson joined the UW-Richland faculty in 2005. She teaches an array of courses including Disasters-Living on the Edge, Evolution and Extinction, Physical Geography, Physical Geology, Environmental Geology, Historical Geology, and Introduction to Soil and Water Resources. The annual “Bedrock Café” event during which the community is invited to come to the campus and eat “rocks” as well as learn about them and engage with students in related research is just one of her creative learning endeavors.

“I am extremely honored and humbled by the kind words of support from my students and colleagues,” Emerson said. “To me, teaching at UW-Richland is a privilege and I am committed to upholding its strong tradition and mission of providing students a supportive personal environment in which to achieve their academic goals.”

In his letter of congratulations, UW System president Kevin Reilly wrote, “The award pays tribute to your impressive dedication as a teacher and to your ability to communicate your subject matter effectively and inspire in your students an enthusiasm for learning.”

Emerson will be presented with the award in mid-October at a special ceremony to take place in Madison.

For more information, contact Emerson by e-mail at or by calling her on campus at (608) 647-6186, Extension 109.


Dorothy Thompson
(608) 647-6186, Extension 231