UM College of Humanities and Sciences Distributes Teaching Awards

April 19, 2017

MISSOULA – The University of Montana College of Humanities and Sciences is proud to announce the recipients of its 2017 Teaching Awards, recognizing excellent educators at various levels.

“A good teacher is one who effectively delivers the curriculum. A great teacher is one who motivates and inspires students,” said Jenny McNulty, the college’s associate dean. “This month, the College of Humanities and Sciences acknowledges its great teachers – those who are the epitome of teaching excellence. We recognize these exemplary educators for their outstanding contributions to the education of UM students.”

The Helen and Winston Cox Educational Excellence Award, the college’s longest-standing teaching award, recognizes junior faculty members for their excellence and dedication in the area of teaching. This year, the award is presented to political science Assistant Professor Sara Rinfret and mathematical sciences Assistant Professor Matt Roscoe.

Rinfret made an immediate impact after arriving at UM from Hartwick College in 2014. Teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, she educates students on political issues that range from state and local government to public administration and environmental regulations. In doing so, she has become known on campus as the epitome of a teacher-scholar, possessing both an award-winning teaching portfolio and near-perfect student evaluations.

As one student said, “Dr. Rinfret has had, and continues to have, a profound impact on my development as a student, a member of the public workforce and as a person. I cannot begin to thank her for everything she has done for me, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition than Dr. Rinfret.”

Rinfret also has guided UM’s online Master of Public Administration program to one of national distinction, as it is now recognized among similar programs at the University of Notre Dame and Harvard University Extension School as being the best in the country.

After teaching at the high school level early in his career, Roscoe obtained a doctorate in mathematical sciences from UM in 2011. One year later, he accepted an assistant professor position at UM and now focuses his efforts on molding the next generation of math teachers at the K-12 level. He has worked closely with colleagues from other institutions to design and deliver unique opportunities for face-to-face, online and blended professional learning for Montana’s K-12 mathematics teachers. His excellence in teaching has influenced not just UM students but teachers, programs and policies that go beyond the UM campus.

“I have had many wonderful professors at the University of Montana, but not one fits this award more appropriately than Professor Matt Roscoe,” said one student in a nomination letter. “He is one of the easiest people to work with, and I have gleaned so much from him that continues to drive me as a MCPS educator today.”

The two other faculty members receiving awards this spring are sociology Professor Kathy Kuipers and geography Lecturer Kevin McManigal.

Kuipers, the recipient of the William Reynolds Award for excellence in teaching across the curriculum, has a superior record of teaching courses at both the upper and lower levels of UM’s sociology curriculum and a passion for maximizing the learning potential of all her students – from first-semester freshmen to graduate students nearing completion of a doctoral degree. She also is known for her dedication to mentoring students and has received specific recognition from Student Affairs for her mentorship of Native American students through the American Indian Student Services Advisory Board.

“Professor Kuipers has and continues to have a profound impact on me as a student, teacher and scholar,” said a former student. “I am immensely grateful for having had the opportunities to learn from her and work with her so closely.”

Founded by the college’s External Advisory Board, the William Reynolds Award is named in honor of alumnus, advisory board member and longtime friend William Reynolds.

McManigal is the recipient of the David B. Friend Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes excellence by nontenure-track faculty members instructing at the introductory level and beyond.

As the coordinator of UM’s geographic information science and technology certificate, McManigal is largely responsible for student success in navigating the program and transporting new knowledge and skills into the professional environment. His dedication has revitalized and modernized the entire GIST program, doubling the enrollment to nearly 100 students a semester. Students often give rave reviews about McManigal’s high-energy and inspiring approach with which he presents his classes.

As one colleague put it, “Students gravitate toward him to chat about climbing and hiking and traveling, but there is a lot of life advice being dispensed as well. He really wants everyone to find a passion and dive into ways to make the world a better place.”

All 2017 teaching awards will be formally presented to the recipients at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the college’s annual Humanities and Sciences Dialogue event. This year’s event, titled “What is Truth? Evidence, Persuasion and ‘Alternative Facts,’” is free and open to the public and will be held in the Harold and Priscilla Gilkey Building Room 105.

For more information regarding the awards or the dialogue event, call UM College of Humanities and Sciences Media and Information Coordinator Ian Withrow at 406-243-2683 or email


Contact: Ian Withrow, media and information coordinator, UM College of Humanities and Sciences, 406-243-2683,