T.H. Gentle Professorship Goes to Dr. Gay Timken

Gay Timken with past winners of the award and members of the Gentle family

On Thursday, May 17, Physical Education Teacher Education Professor Gay Timken was announced as the 2018-2019 T.H. Gentle Professor.

Timken, who has been on the faculty at Western Oregon University for 15 years, will take over the professorship from Deaf Studies and Professional Studies Professor Elisa Maroney, who held the post during the previous academic year.

The professorship, named for former Historic Gentle House owner and WOU benefactor Thomas Gentle, provides funds “for an eminent teacher in the College of Education who will ultimately serve to enhance the educational programs” in the college. All tenured or tenure-track faculty members from the COE can apply for the endowed professorship, though preference is given to those engaged in work that joins excellence in teaching with scholarship, academic programming or partnerships with stakeholders.

Timken, who specializes in sports pedagogy, plans to use the two course releases and $1,000 that come with the professorship to delve into the data her students have accumulated. The end goal, of course, is to make them better teachers.

“For our Western students, it’s a process of them learning to teach by teaching for learning,” she said. “That’s what this project is about. The WOU students have a process for becoming a teacher and what are the critical incidents that they see happening (in the classroom). They are all videotaped. They analyze the tape. Now I can take the time to follow their process from a research perspective.”

Her students have been teaching at Talmadge Middle School in Independence for several years and have gathered quite a bit of information about their methods, strengths and opportunities for improvement. By taking a closer look at the process, Timken said, she’ll be better equipped to help them improve. That’s a support she wishes she had in her years as a newly minted teacher.

“My interest really lies with the process of becoming a teacher,” she explained. “I think the reason I’m so interested in that is because I can look back at my own teacher preparation … and it was so bad. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know how to manage a classroom. I didn’t really know how to write a lesson. I look at my student teaching experience and I think ‘Whoa, that was rough.’ That’s why I’m so passionate about making sure these students are truly ready to go.”

Timken said this was the first time she’d applied for the professorship, and she’s flattered to have received it.

“I am really humbled by my being selected, that the chairs and directors thought the work I do has merit. That’s humbling,” she said.