CALDWELL, Idaho — Robert Dayley has always valued higher education, so winning the 2011 Idaho Professor of the Year award was especially sweet to him.
Dayley, a native of South Ogden, recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where he received his award from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Dayley is in his 11th year teaching at the College of Idaho in Caldwell, just outside of Boise. He teaches international political economy classes and topics courses about a number of Asian nations. He also advises the college’s award-winning Model United Nations team, as well as international students in the Davis United World College Scholars program.
Dayley’s primary area of expertise is Southeast Asia. He co-wrote a highly praised college text on the region and twice has been the recipient of Fulbright grants to Thailand. He took four College of Idaho students to study the Thai tangerine industry this past summer using an ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Research Grant.
“Every other year, I get to take my students to my lab in Asia,” he said. He loves watching his students get one-on-one interaction with study-abroad programs.
Working with the young students is by far his favorite part of his job.
One of the most gratifying aspects of his work is seeing his students graduate and go on to do interesting and exciting things.
“They see me and tell me what they are doing, and it is really satisfying to see students apply themselves,” he said.
“I like to describe my job as reading books and talking about them with young people,” Dayley said in a phone interview from his College of Idaho office.
Dayley also helped pilot the college’s very successful PEAK curriculum, which enables students to graduate with a major and three minors in four years. The majors and minors go across four “peaks” or academic areas: the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and a professional field.
School communications director Jordan Rodriguez knows Dayley well and said part of his success results from his being approachable and easy to talk to.
“He is just a really cool guy,” Rodriguez said.
Dayley said he was surprised and humbled to receive the prestigious award and credits his success to the College of Idaho, which has had four professors earn the award in the past six years.
Dayley grew up in South Ogden. He graduated from Bonneville High School in 1984 and Weber State University in 1989. He received his master’s degree from the University of Oregon in 1992 and his Ph.D. from Northern Illinois in 1997.
He was a psychology major at WSU, then served an LDS mission to Thailand. After that, his focus changed to politics and Asian studies.
Dayley makes two or three visits a year to the Ogden area with his wife, Carrie, and three children.
He credits much of his love for learning and higher education to his parents, Alan and Joanne Dayley, of South Ogden. Alan has worked at WSU for 50 years and currently works at the WSU Davis campus as an assistant dean of students.
Dayley said, “My parents always taught me how important higher education was.”