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Dr. Randy Bertolas Receives Teaching Excellence Awards

Published Monday, May 7th, 2018

Kevin Armstrong, Marysz Rames, Randy Bertolas, and Matt Ley
Kevin Armstrong, CEO of the Wayne State Foundation; Marysz Rames, president of Wayne State College; Randy Bertolas, professor of geography; and Matt Ley, CEO of State Nebraska Bank & Trust in Wayne

The Teaching Excellence Award recognizes the importance of teaching to the mission of serving students, communities, and Nebraska by providing high quality, accessible educational opportunities.

Wayne State College is proud to announce that Dr. Randy Bertolas, professor of geography and chair of the Department of History, Politics, and Geography at Wayne State College, was presented the State Nebraska Bank & Trust Teaching Excellence Award and the Nebraska State College System (NSCS) Teaching Excellence Award at the college’s May 5 commencement ceremony. Bertolas has taught at Wayne State since 1995.

Matthew Ley, CEO of State Nebraska Bank & Trust in Wayne, presented the State Nebraska Bank & Trust Teaching Excellence Award. This prestigious honor recognizes rigorous standards that require a superior level of effective teaching.

David Ley, the banks’ chairman of the board, established the award in 1998 as a way of recognizing and strengthening outstanding teaching at Wayne State College. State Nebraska Bank & Trust has been serving the Wayne community for more than 125 years and supports the college in many ways, including numerous scholarships, capital investments, employment of students, and service on the Wayne State Foundation Board of Trustees. 

“Teaching geography is my passion and the focus of my career,” Bertolas said. “This award is a great honor, but the real reward is found in the success of my students.”

The NSCS Teaching Excellence Award annually recognizes the importance of teaching to the mission of serving students, communities, and Nebraska by providing high quality, accessible educational opportunities. To recognize and foster excellence in teaching across all disciplines at all NSCS colleges, each year one faculty member within the college system is recognized with the Teaching Excellence Award by the NSCS Board of Trustees. The faculty member honored with the award must demonstrate teaching skills that enhance and expand the learning experience for students, in addition to serving students with guidance and advising, engaging in development programs, and developing innovative courses and teaching techniques. 

Bertolas serves as faculty advisor to the Explorers Club, Pi Gamma Mu (the international honor society in the social sciences), and Phi Kappa Phi (the nation’s oldest and most selective all-discipline honor society). He chartered the WSC chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon (the international geography honor society) in 2002, and later served that organization as International President in 2011-12. He is a member of the American Association of Geographers (AAG), the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE), and the Nebraska State Council for the Social Studies (NSCSS). He also serves as coordinator of the Geographic Educators of Nebraska (GEON).

Bertolas taught high school math and coached wrestling on Long Island, New York, prior to coming to Wayne State. He earned his Ph.D. from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1995, his master’s degree at University of Vermont in 1982, and his bachelor’s degree at University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1980.

His awards include the University at Buffalo Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award (1993), AAG Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award (1997), and WSC Student Senate Professor of the Year (2005 and 2009). He has also received the NCGE Distinguished Teaching Achievement Award (2006), Pi Gamma Mu National Award of Excellence (2008) and Hall of Fame inductee (2017), GEON Gildersleeve-Stoddard-Stone Geography Educator Award (2011) and NSCSS Paul Beck Award as the Outstanding Social Sciences Educator in Nebraska (2012).