Hoffman recognized with Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award

Gail Hoffman

Professor Gail K. Hoffman in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Department of Health and Human Performance is one of four UW System faculty recipients of the 2023 James R. Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. The $5,000 award, funded by Alliant Energy, recognizes extraordinary teachers at UW institutions within Alliant’s service area. 

Hoffman’s career began as a coach and assistant coach with multiple NCAA Women’s Volleyball programs and transitioned to full-time teaching when she joined the faculty of UW-Richland in 2000, eventually serving as Chair of the Department of Health and Human Performance for the UW Colleges. Her leadership and innovation has continued with UW-Platteville, teaching and developing online, hybrid and face-to-face courses, and expanding department courses with gender and ethnic studies designations. 

Creatively designed group projects are at the core of what Hoffman says is her belief in the need for students to learn to work with, and within, teams.  

“I think it’s one of the most important experiences students can have, that helps them in any workplace or classroom,” said Hoffman, whose class projects have also forged students’ connections with community businesses, government departments and local schools.   

Group projects also help students learn to use alternative lenses to understand and respect each other’s different personal histories and personal perspectives, Hoffman says. Student evaluations of Hoffman’s courses and projects cite her strong success in making all students welcomed and connected, specifically mentioning her clear commitment to avoiding bias and seeking multiple points of view in her classes. 

Department Chair Dr. Matthew Fencl cited Hoffman’s long history of commitment to teaching in his statement on behalf of her nomination, recalling a previous chair who said the Hoffman “was the faculty member who set the tone for how the department thinks and talks about teaching.”  Fencl also praised her high expectations and deep belief in her students’ ability to succeed.  

“Gail’s passion for teaching, positive demeanor and so many other respected attributes enable her to be an admired educator and colleague while also producing irrefutable high outcomes for her students,” said Fencl. 

Hoffman will be recognized at the university’s convocation on Aug. 31 and in a ceremony in Madison in October.