UB Graduate School of Education Professor and Wife Pledge $25,000 to Support Excellence in Teaching

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: February 4, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- J. Ronald Gentile, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education, and his wife, Kay Johnson-Gentile, a retired Buffalo State College professor, have pledged up to $25,000 in matching challenge funds to benefit UB's recently established Center for Teaching and Learning Resources (CTLR).

Noting that "we're never done learning how to teach," the Gentiles made their challenge pledge with the intent that any dollars generated will support "Excellence in Teaching," CTLR's annual speakers series. The couple is asking that donors consider a minimum gift of $100. They will match all gifts up to a total of $25,000 for the next five years.

"Our goal is to bring additional visibility to the CTLR, to help faculty and teaching assistants become more reflective about their teaching and expand their repertoires of teaching skills," Gentile says.

The CTLR was established in 2001 in response to UB faculty members' desire for instructional programs and personal support for teaching. In its brief two-year history, the CTLR already has drawn hundreds of faculty and teaching assistants to its workshops, Web site and library of books and videos.

Peter A. Nickerson, chair of the UB faculty senate, said the level of teaching at the university will be facilitated greatly by the Gentiles' gift. Director of the graduate program in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, Nickerson encourages UB faculty members to participate in the matching-support offer developed by the Gentiles.

James N. Jensen, CTLR director and associate professor of civil engineering, said UB's faculty and students are the benefactors of the Gentiles' generosity.

"The CTLR is overwhelmed at the generosity of Ron and Kay Gentile in the establishment of the fund," said Jensen. "They have touched the lives of thousands of students in the classroom. And now their financial generosity will allow the CTLR to bring the finest educators in the country to share their expertise with UB teaching professionals."

J. Ronald Gentile has been inspiring budding teachers with his passion for education for more than three decades, particularly in his "Psychology of Learning and Instruction" class. A musician who performs with his wife under the stage name The Genteels, he generally belts out an original song by way of introducing himself to his class at the beginning of each semester. Throughout the semester, the class is peppered with jokes, brainteasers and an infectious enthusiasm for the material.

"If a teacher can't get excited about something, how can the students?" Gentile said in 1999, which marked his 30th anniversary at UB.

The Gentiles, who live in North Tonawanda, have composed, performed and recorded "Adult Music for Children" and "Children's Music for Adults," as well as conducted workshops on how to integrate music into elementary-school curricula. One of their songs, "The Great Horse and the Greater Horses," which is about helping one another in the face of adversity, has been performed as a children's opera.

Kay Johnson-Gentile, a former elementary school teacher, was an associate professor in the elementary education and reading department at Buffalo State College from 1990 until retiring this past fall. She received SUNY's prestigious Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002.