Baucus, Tester honor MT ‘Professor of the Year’

UM Chemistry Professor Known As ‘G. Wiz’, Singled Out For His Dedication To Students

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)  Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today are praising Montana's professor of the year- University of Montana chemistry professor Dr. Garon Smith PhD.  Smith received the award at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Smith, or "G. Wiz" as he's called on campus, is known for his energetic and innovative teaching style which he uses to engage students.

"It doesn't have to be serious for learning to take place, and I try to be as fun as possible" Smith said.  "Most people are in my classroom because they have to take the class- and I'm interested in getting students involved in learning."

In 2002, Smith secured a grant from the National Science Foundation to start a program at UM known as the Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER).  This program incorporates civic engagement in the classroom and the community by incorporating public issues into problems presented in class, and offering extra credit for calculations that extend topics discussed in the classroom with problems in the local community.

In addition to teaching chemistry classes at the University of Montana, Smith also tours Montana elementary schools giving presentations while wearing a wizard's cape and hat to get kids interested in science. 

Today, Baucus met with Smith to discuss the importance of higher education and the future of Montana's students.

"Garon Smith has found a way to engaging young people in science," Baucus said. "He is a great example of the caliber of teachers we have in Montana. I'm committed to making higher education more affordable, because every young person in Montana deserves access to professors like G. Wiz."

 "This award is an acknowledgement of Garon's hard work and of his dedication to his students and to science," Tester said. "We are so fortunate to have him at UM, where he is leading the next generation of Montanans towards a bright and successful future."

The U.S. Professors of the Year program salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country—those who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives and careers of students. Sponsored by Council for Advancement and Support of Education and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, it is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.