UW-Richland historian Aharon Zorea, 2009 Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award winner


“Questions? Comments? Words of wisdom?”

Jeff Groves, a six-time student and intern with UW-Richland assistant professor of history Dr. Aharon Zorea, said this is Zorea’s catch-phrase, a slogan that encourages engagement. “He’s the only professor I’ve known to have one.”

Zorea’s engagement of students was recently recognized by UW System. He’s been selected for a 2009 Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. Zorea is the seventh UW-Richland faculty member to be honored with this prestigious award since it was established in 1991.

“Dr. Zorea’s enthusiasm and genuine ability with historical interpretation are both entertaining and enlightening,” Groves said. “He’s capable of introducing large themes in his lectures that transcend superficial facts, instead emphasizing historical significance and unbiased relevance. As one of his interns and students, I have been honored to work with him and have greatly benefited from his vast knowledge and professional dedication.”

Zorea is one of four teachers chosen for 2009 from the many eligible faculty at UW campuses within Alliant Energy’s service area—UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, and UW Colleges campuses at Baraboo, Fond du Lac, Richland Center, Rock County and Sheboygan. The Underkofler Award, which comes with a $3,500 prize funded by an endowment from Alliant
Energy, recognizes and rewards extraordinary teachers.

Lyn Brodersen, UW-Richland campus executive officer and dean, said, “This is, indeed, an honor for Dr. Zorea and for UW-Richland. Receiving the Underkofler Award is testimony to
Dr. Zorea’s outstanding teaching, and, more broadly, to all of the excellent faculty who call this campus home. Our students are the true beneficiaries of Dr. Zorea’s command of pedagogy and skill in the classroom. We deeply appreciate Aharon’s professional presence on our campus, and his numerous contributions to the community. The Underkofler Award is yet
another example of the sterling commitment Aharon has made to higher education, to UWRichland, and to the UW Colleges. Congratulations to Dr. Zorea.”

In the letter informing Zorea of his selection, Kevin Reilly, UW System president, 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.”

Zorea said, “I found the application process as rewarding as the award itself. Reading the letters of support for my application was moving and emotional. I am extremely honored and grateful to my students and colleagues for their support and I will continue to work hard to live up to their high expectations.”

He plans to use the award funds to support his continuing local history research, projects that include collecting oral histories and digitizing local historical photographs.

At UW-Richland, Zorea teaches U.S. History, World History, Ancient History, History of Western Civilization, Film as Social History, and independent studies in history.

Zorea lives in Richland Center with his family—wife Deb, and sons Jacob and Jonah. 

The award will be presented in early October at a UW System ceremony in Madison.


Dorothy Thompson
(608) 647-6186, Extension 231