Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award recipient
Qingkai Kong plus a classroom of Huskies equals an exceptional learning experience.
“Dr. Kong shows true passion for the rigorous standards of mathematics and because of that, he encourages his students to be just as rigorous through his example,” said former student Jake Pratscher.
Kong came to NIU in 1992 after earning his doctorate degree from the University of Alberta in Canada. For more than two decades, his teaching at NIU has been “exemplary at all levels,” from beginning calculus to graduate courses.
In 2009, he became director of the mathematical sciences department, and has been called a “driving force” in curricular improvements and the introduction of an internship/research experience course.
“Dr. Kong did not settle for any less than every student’s best efforts,” said former student Tyler Rogman. “He worked extremely hard to prepare all of his students for situations that extended past the semester.”
While Kong’s teaching goal is for students to “gain a deep understanding of the fundamental concepts and apply the knowledge in future studies and professional careers,” that is only part of the equation.
“I want students to develop a zest for continued learning and become logical thinkers,” Kong said. “I often tell my students that in the future, they may not remember every formula or method, however the logical thinking learned from the course will be with them forever.”
For the past 24 years, Kong has taught 15 undergraduate courses and four graduate courses. He is respected and admired by his students for his intensive preparation, concern for their progress and welfare, and his willingness to meet with them outside of class.
“To me, teaching is not a career, but a lifetime dedication,” Kong said.
The Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award is a testament to his dedication, and Kong is honored to be recognized for doing what he loves to do.
“The award means a lot to me,” Kong said. “It is not only an honor, but it also shows me that my 24 years of teaching has been recognized by my students. It stimulates me to further enhance my teaching quality to better fit students’ needs.”