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In The Spotlight: 2019 UVU Outstanding Educators

By Barbara Christiansen | Photography by Brooke Steinecke


Dianne Bradshaw Knight worked for more than 30 years in private practice as a dental hygienist. Now an associate professor at UVU, she has earned awards for her teaching and student support. Her honors include the Going the Extra Mile Award for Excellence in Intern­ship and Career Development, Outstanding Mentor Award from the Utah Dental Hygiene Association, and recognition from the Univer­sity of Washington for the program Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities. She is the Utah Dental Hygienists’ Association (UDHA) state education liaison.

The best part of working at UVU is the students, she says. In the hygiene program, she teaches the same students every day for two years.

“The relationships you build, as well as the degree of influence you can have in their lives, make it all worth it,” she says. “And they are always exceptional students.”



Hank McIntire has been a professional communicator for three decades, including as an assistant professor in UVU’s Department of Communication. He was the public affairs offi­cer for the Utah National Guard for nine years and served in the U.S. Army, Utah National Guard for 26 years.

At UVU, he earned the Faculty Excellence Award in 2018 and the PRSSA Faculty of the Year for 2014­-2015.

“The best thing about UVU is that I get to teach and get paid for it,” he says. “My philos­ophy is that I teach students and not courses. UVU students are more mature, have life expe­rience, and are serious about their education to get into the workforce or to go to graduate school. UVU faculty bring real-­life experience to the classroom to help students understand the conceptual and apply the practical.”



Craig Dan Thulin says his favorite color has always been green, even though he has attend­ed red and purple schools and worked at a blue one. He has taught chemistry at UVU since 2006 and is the university’s current Faculty Senate president. He won a previous Outstand­ing Educator of the Year award, and he has been a finalist for the Wolverine Achievement Award for full­time faculty.

“Our students are amazing,” he says. “So many of them are wonderful examples of deter­mination despite difficulties, and progressing to the possibilities of becoming their best selves. They inspire me and give me hope. The mission of UVU also inspires me and gives me hope. We include, we engage, and we achieve. We are all about the success of our students, and, therefore, of our community and the world.”



David Wagstaff spent 25 years in the software industry, with his primary focus on web applications. He has been at UVU for four years, with a primary focus on full­-stack web applications. When he earned his undergradu­ate degree, he felt like he was learning in spite of his classes. Things are the opposite at UVU.

“When offered a position to teach at UVU, it was like a second chance to make the right deci­sion,” he says. “I love UVU because I get to con­centrate on teaching, on truly being passionate along with my students about a subject I love.”

He appreciates UVU’s focus on being a teaching institution that maintains open enroll­ment, yet keeps the rigor of academic excellence.



Nancy Peterson has been a part of Utah Valley University for nearly 22 years, and she says the best part of working at UVU has stayed the same throughout that time.

“It is the opportunity to help bright, eager, goal­-oriented students assume confidence and passion for changing the world,” she says. “Our graduates are changing the world — one classroom at a time.”

She has previously taught in Alpine School District in Utah, and in Mesa, Arizona, and in San Antonio, Texas. She began graduate work in Virginia, supervising student teachers, teaching child development and elementa­ry teaching methods. In West Virginia, she taught literacy teaching methods and science teaching methods.

“I am so grateful to have been a part of what has become the UVU School of Educa­tion,” she says.



Law and the arts seem like two distinct fields of study, not likely to coincide. But UVU’s Courtney R. Davis, an assistant professor of art history and the department chair of art and design, has done just that.

“I enjoy researching contemporary art and copyright law, bringing together the two sides of my world,” she says.

This is the third time she has been named the Outstanding Educator for the School of the Arts. She has also earned the UVU Faculty Senate Excellence Award for the school.

“The UVU spirit is a tangible thing that enlightens and enlivens. It is what makes UVU such a special place,” she says. “I look forward to every class that I have the honor of teaching.”


An adjunct professor of mathematics and developmental math at UVU, Douglas Schiffman received a bachelor’s degree from BYU and a master’s in math education from Western Governors University. He has taught at the Utah County Academy of Sciences since 2012, and was honored by that school as the 2013­-14 Teacher of the Year.

The best part of working at UVU “is being a part of the educational journeys of so many wonderful people,” he says. “I am inspired by their examples, their dedication to learn, and their efforts to overcome challenges so they can enhance their individual circumstances. I have the best job in the world.”

Married with four children and five grand­children, Schiffman loves to read, particularly biographies and history. He is slowly restoring a 1955 Studebaker classic automobile.


Steven C. Huff is the chair of the Marketing Department in the Woodbury School of Busi­ness and an associate professor of marketing. He has worked at UVU since 2012.

Huff received a bachelor’s in computer en­gineering, an MBA from BYU, and a doctorate in marketing from UC Berkeley.

He received an Outstanding Educator Award previously, the Presidential Teaching Award, the Best of State for Utah College or University Teachers, and a Wolverine Achieve­ ment Award for full­-time faculty.

He says, “Research institutions often trade student success for academic reputation, but we seek above all student growth and achieve­ment — we call them delta and alpha at the business school. Our incredibly unique ‘T1’ aspiration (‘T’ for teaching) inspires and fuels me daily and is incredibly fulfilling.”