Best Teachers of 2020 to be honored

Mark Uchanski Associate Professor of Horticulture
KuoRay Mao Assistant Professor of Sociology
Andrea Rice Purdy Associate Professor of Spanish
Dr. William Hanneman Professor of Toxicology
Brian Geiss Associate Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology

One of the first casualties of the pandemic pivot was the annual Best Teachers Award banquet, originally scheduled for March 25, 2020. By that time, CSU had pivoted to working remotely, and in-person events had largely been canceled.

To make sure that the educators selected are honored for their outstanding contributions to students and the university, the Alumni Association will host a “live” event on Instagram on March 25 this year. Five of the seven will be accepting their award by sharing a short video talking about what being named Best Teacher means to them.

You can be part of the celebration by tuning into CSU’s Instagram account at Check back often for more details as the date approaches.

Sharing their stories

These Best Teachers will be appearing on Instagram:

Mark Uchanski, associate professor of horticulture, College of Agricultural Sciences. Uchanski arrived at CSU in 2015 to serve as Specialty Crops Program coordinator, where he works on vegetable and other specialty crops while researching sustainable and organic practices. He helped establish the CSU Student Education Garden in 2016, just south of campus, which was certified organic shortly thereafter.

KuoRay Mao, assistant professor of sociology, College of Liberal Arts. Mao has won numerous honors for his research, especially for projects in China. He received the 2016 Outstanding Emerging Scholar Award from the Western Social Sciences Association and the Best Journal Article Award from the American Society of Criminology Division on Critical Criminology and Social Justice in 2019.

Andrea Rice Purdy, associate professor of Spanish, College of Liberal Arts. Purdy has been on faculty at CSU for 20 years. She teaches several Spanish courses, specializing in reading and writing skills, as well as translation and interpretation. Her background was instrumental in helping to establish a semester-long education abroad program at the CSU Todos Santos Center in Baja California Sur, Mexico, that gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in Mexican culture. 

Brian Geiss, associate professor of microbiology, immunology, and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Geiss came to CSU in 2005 as a researcher and joined the faculty in 2010. He helped establish the master’s program in microbiology and immunology and offers unique life lessons beyond laboratory and textbook learning so that graduates are prepared to succeed in the field. 

Dr. William Hanneman, professor of toxicology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Before his death from cancer on July 28, 2019, Dr. Hanneman had been on faculty since 1999 and worked to enhance the already-sterling reputation of CSU’s world-renowned toxicology department. He will be represented by his widow, Marie Legare.

You can read more about all of 2020’s Best Teachers at