About the Award
The Award for Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education recognizes graduate and professional teachers for excellence in instruction; involvement of students in research and/or artistic activities, scholarship, and professional development; development of instructional programs; and advising and mentoring of students.
Dan Dahlberg received this award at the Distinguished Teaching Awards ceremony on April 17, 2018.
Each year, the Alumni Association is proud to join the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost in supporting the Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize the outstanding work of U of M educators. Recipients of the awards are inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
About Dan Dahlberg
- School of Physics and Astronomy
- College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
The lesson Dan Dahlberg teaches his students best is the one they learn on their own: how to take responsibility for a research project from start to finish.
“My self-directed problem-solving skill set is an invaluable by-product of my Ph.D. research, for which I will be forever indebted to Professor Dahlberg,” says one highly successful former advisee.
A past director of graduate studies and chair of the physics graduate program review committee, Dahlberg spearheaded a policy that allows first-year students to take remedial courses before facing a required written exam, a move that dramatically improved the pass rate.
He later led a drive to make the graduate students’ oral exam reflect not mastery of physics in general—which they had already demonstrated—but a deep knowledge of their subfield.
Dahlberg also gave students a seminar forum in which to practice oral research presentations, including at least one talk to an audience outside their specific research area. Key to the forum’s success is feedback from peers and faculty; as a result, students enter the job market armed with the ability and self-confidence to express their ideas to a variety of audiences.
“I started to realize early on that he was pushing me to do things of which I could truly be proud,” recalls a former student. “That feeling of accomplishment is very rewarding, and I have carried it with me to this day.”
“It is my philosophy to let graduate students control their research projects as much as possible. I want them to learn to never back away from a challenge, and that they can handle whatever problems they face.”
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