Hanlon wins UW Regents teaching award

Don Hanlon

Don Hanlon

For Don Hanlon, UWM professor of architecture, teaching is a strategy to instill in students methods of tapping their own creative potential.

He uses diverse techniques to accomplish this – even incorporating meditation and Laban Movement Analysis (the use of body movement for expression) to enhance creativity in his design studios.

A 25-year member of the UWM faculty, Hanlon is one of two faculty members chosen from throughout the UW System to receive the 20th annual Regents Teaching Excellence Award. It is not the first recognition of his teaching skills. In 2001, he was given the UWM Alumni Association Award for Teaching Excellence.

By transcending the traditional teacher-apprentice relationship, Hanlon allows students to play a greater role in their design development. “No other lesson in my architectural education has had such a profound impact on my personal and professional development,” says a former student of this approach.

“One of many contributions to the character of the School has been his insistence that architectural design is incidentally about the making of buildings, while its principal purpose is to investigate how the world and one’s own mind works,” says Robert Greenstreet, dean of the School of Architecture & Urban Planning.

Hanlon also provides leadership to student groups outside of the classroom. One example is his establishment of teams of students and community members to provide architectural services to many Milwaukee nonprofit organizations unable to afford professional architects. Also, he regularly hosts study-abroad experiences that directly influence his students’ work.

“Professor Hanlon’s knowledge of Middle Eastern culture and architecture made it easy for me to express ideas that related to my own Middle Eastern heritage,” says one former student. “I never thought I would be capable of producing the type of innovative designs I did in that studio.”

In 2010, Hanlon converted one of his courses, Architecture 101: An Introduction to Architectural Theory, to an entirely online course. With an enrollment of about 350 students, it is currently among the largest online courses offered at UWM.