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2008 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award Recipient: Dennis Nygren

Posted Apr, 14, 2008

Distinguished Honors Faculty Award Recipient Dennis NygrenDennis Nygren

School of Music Professor Dennis Nygren received the 2008 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award.

Denny has performed with the North American Air Defense Band as a solo clarinet and soloist. He is the first clarinetist to earn a Doctorate in clarinet performance at Northwestern University. Denny has served the Honors College for many years with outstanding teaching and a dedication to Honors students far beyond normal expectations. During his Honors years he has taught the Honors section of the liberal education requirement, Understanding Music, a total of 57 times! And on two occasions, he presented special lectures to Honors College students. He has directed 3 senior Honors theses and 3 additional smaller research projects. He has also served on the Honors College Policy Council and has organized five different Honors College recitals. 

One of the students who nominated Nygren for the award reported: “I believe Dr. Nygren’s understanding music course may have been the most interesting and educational class I’ve ever had. I have never met a teacher who has so much enthusiasm for what he taught!” 

Dr. Nygren truly enjoys his job and is committed to his students. Another nominator emphasized that Dr. Nygren combines both his extensive knowledge of styles and composers with his equally extensive experience in music performance to make Western music embraceable by students who otherwise might not be interested in it. His friendly demeanor inside and outside the classroom as well as his encouragement of student participation and involvement make him a natural teacher…Knowledge, commitment, and enthusiasm all make Dr. Nygren a truly distinguished Honors faculty member. 

This same nominator goes on to say, “I believe Dr. Nygren deserves the Distinguished Honors Faculty Award for his excellent teaching skills and maybe more importantly for his beautiful example as a caring teacher and role model. His friendly demeanor (inside and outside the classroom) as well as his encouragement of student participation and involvement makes him a natural teacher.” 

Such comments echo the superb Honors teaching evaluations he has received over the years. They are evidence that Denny is always thinking freshly about his teaching. Denny Nygren embodies the best qualities of Honors teaching—a passion for his discipline, high quality standards for his students’ work, and caring support for them as individuals.