Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professors
Dr. Wan-I Oliver Li
Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
His continuous honing of his own teaching skills, combined with his ability to keep his students intellectually engaged, challenged and encouraged, have made Dr. Wan-I Oliver Li one of the most sought-after professors on campus.
Dr. Li joined the CVM faculty more than 20 years ago, in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Recognized early as being a gifted educator, Dr. Li was named a Lilly Teaching Fellow in 1992; he received the Carl J. Norden-Pfizer Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award bestowed to a veterinary professor, in 2007.
“He excels in teaching at all 3 levels: undergraduate, graduate and professional,” said Dr. Sheila W. Allen, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “His teaching evaluations are exceptional. His ability to connect with students, despite the size of the class, is reflected by the number of reference letters students ask him to write on their behalf each year (70+).”
As an instructor of human and animal physiology, veterinary endocrinology, and veterinary physiological chemistry, Dr. Li teaches hundreds of undergraduate students each year. He is credited with taking what students used to consider rather dull educational fare – VPHY 3100, Elements of Physiology – and turning it into a class that is so in demand it is now offered fall and spring semesters.
“The course has grown from an enrollment of only 10 students in the year 2000 to a course now offered both fall and spring semesters that is fully subscribed at 250 students per semester,” said Dr. Gaylen Edwards, who heads Dr. Li’s department.
Dr. Li says his own educational experience helped him develop a hybrid style that incorporates the lecture-listen approach of the Asian system with the more interactive approach of American classrooms, where, he says, “… the questions and comments our students raise are treated with more attention and respect.”
Despite numerous accolades from his colleagues throughout the University, it is the praise from the students themselves that brings home the realization that a memorable and often life-changing experience is taking place in Li’s classroom:
“Instead of presenting the exact same material year after year, Dr. Li actively pursues new research related to his lecture topics and integrates this material into his teaching,“ wrote a former student.
“He is extremely respectful of students and is actually willing and enthused about helping us succeed in school and further endeavors,” wrote another, who added: “I hope to become a teacher just like him.”
“He masterfully accomplishes what very few educators have done in my experience: Dr. Li motivated me to reach beyond the assigned duties by creating a positive learning environment; individually challenging me to demonstrate a superior conceptual knowledge of the material; and providing personal support and guidance at every step,” wrote a former student who, with the aid of Dr. Li’s guidance and letters of recommendation, became a Rhodes Scholar and is now a second-year medical student at Harvard.
“Dr. Li puts himself on the same intellectual plane as his students, never making them feel inferior in any way,” wrote a third-year DVM student.
One alum wrote that one of his most memorable classroom moments at UGA came on the last day of class in VPHY 3100: “As Dr. Li closed by saying, ‘And that’s Human Physiology’, without intermission, applause erupted from the fully attended class thanking the professor who not only taught but also entertained them with a study in Human Physiology.”
Public Relations Director
|Sue Myers Smith
This page was last updated on May 5, 2011.