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Faculty Excellence Profile: Lee Seidel

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Faculty Excellence Profile: Lee Seidel
Lee Seidel, professor of health management, received the 2011 Faculty Excellence Jean Brierley Award for Excellence in Teaching. Mike Ross, Photographic Services.

Lee Seidel’s very first memory that led him to his lifelong career in health management happened when he was 7, maybe 8 years old. At the beginning of that long-ago summer, he and a friend set up a lemonade stand. When fall came, they gave all the proceeds to a local hospital. Before Medicare and Medicaid, giving to health care was a community tradition.

The next nudge came much later, during the early 1970s when he was a young captain stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. A plane on a flight test lost most of its tires and was to make an emergency landing. Seidel was part of the group called to prepare for the causalities. They had two hours to get ready.

The plane ended up landing safely but Seidel never forgot the feeling of trying to get the 60-bed hospital up in time.

“I was fascinated—it was the first time I witnessed people getting ready and reacting like that. I was really interested in what health care systems can do,” he says.

Seidel has a long history with UNH, beginning as an assistant professor in 1977. He founded the UNH Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning in 1993, and served as its director for 13 years. He also served as interim faculty director of the Connors Writing Center. He returned to teaching in 2007.

“I spent a lot of time at Thompson Hall. I like the people in Thompson Hall but I didn’t see that as my exit. I wanted to finish my career working with students,” says Seidel, who will retire in 2012. “If I have any talent in the classroom, it’s listening to students.”

That perception is backed by his colleague James Lewis, associate professor and department chair.

“Gauged by student course evaluations, the measure of teaching excellence used most commonly at UNH, Lee is a star,” Lewis says. “Lee receives the type of student comments to which all faculty aspire …described as ‘caring,’ ‘dedicated,’ ‘passionate,’ and ‘challenging but fair.’”

Says Michael Lee, administrative director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning, “If there is a single person on this campus whose name is synonymous with excellent teaching —and with the advancement of excellence in teaching throughout the University —it is Lee Seidel.”