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Faculty and staff members honored for excellence at Illinois

4/25/2013 | Mare Payne, News Bureau | 217-333-0567;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Eleven faculty members, four academic professionals and five graduate teaching assistants at the University of Illinois were honored (Tuesday) April 23 for excellence in teaching and advising. The group was recognized during a reception at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.

Faculty members honored with the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching:

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Bruce Fouke David Hays
David Haysadditional photo
Steven PetruzzelloBrian Quick
Brian QuickKirk SandersKirk Sandersadditional photo
Amy Fischer-BrownGrace GiorgioGrace Giorgioadditional photo
Julie Price

Bruce Fouke, geology, has led more than 400 undergraduates in intensive field courses in the Arctic, Caribbean and European Alps in his 15 years at Illinois. In that time, 25 undergraduates have changed their majors to geology after taking his introductory courses. His enthusiasm for the material he teaches is noted as a great strength by his students and as an essential part of what motivates them to tackle difficult material in his courses.

David Hays, landscape architecture, structures his courses around the notion that everyone has creative potential. His introductory course has broad appeal and is taken by many nonmajors. Former students describe his influence on their careers as “profound,” and relate feeling challenged by his material at the same time as feeling empowered by the knowledge gained in his courses.

Steven Petruzzello, kinesiology and community health, is so committed to active learning in his courses that he learns the names of every student, even in courses with more than 120 students. Over the last 20 years, he has pushed the department to offer more discussion sections of his classes and revised another course so that it could meet the intensive writing requirements of an advanced composition general education course.

Brian Quick, communication, brings energy and creativity to courses large and small. It is widely remarked that he takes learning beyond the classroom, as exemplified by the opportunities he provides for students to work on health campaigns in the community. Students say that they appreciated the “fun” he brought to classroom discussions as well as the “real-world connections” he made with course material.

Kirk Sanders, classics, keeps his students engaged with challenging subjects by using examples familiar to them. Whether he is referring to popular or comic books, his students appreciate his command of the material, especially as it is combined with his robust sense of humor. While his students are mindful that he has high expectations for their work, they appreciate that he makes complex concepts accessible to them.

Instructional staff members who received the award:

Amy Fischer-Brown, a teaching associate in animal sciences, is the primary instructor in the companion animal biology and humane education program. Many of her students go on to veterinary careers, but she is committed to exposing her students to a broad set of experiences and opportunities. Her goal is to produce capable scientists as well as “positive members of their community and society.” Her impact is felt beyond campus in places such as American Samoa, where she and some of her students volunteered on a large-volume animal sterilization campaign.

Grace Giorgio, the program coordinator for basic speech communication, believes her role is to help “students to want to be heard, to be a part of our local, national and global conversations.” Years after taking her course her students continue to report the tremendous influence she has had on their lives, noting that the courses helped them hone their writing, speaking and research skills. Her courses reinforce the basic canon of communication skills, while she simultaneously innovates in the classroom by using techniques that include connecting her course materials to sustainability issues.

Julie Price, a senior lecturer in English, has appeared on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent each of the 25 semesters she has taught at Illinois. Her inspired and inspiring approach to writing workshops has “enriched the classroom experience,” and her willingness to teach beyond the classroom is also valued. Described by students as “knowledgeable, demanding, humorous and compassionate,” Price says her favorite challenge as a teacher is “steering students away from their white-knuckled grip on clichés and toward other vivid possibilities.”

Graduate teaching assistants who won the award are Molly Briggs, art and design; Anna Kurhajec, history; Megan Remmel, political science; Aimee Rickman, human and community development; and Julius Riles, communication.

The awards recognize professors, instructional staff members and graduate teaching assistants who display consistently excellent performance in the classroom, take innovative approaches to teaching, positively affect the lives of their students, and make other contributions to improve instruction, including influencing the curriculum.

Faculty members and instructional staff members selected for the awards each receive $5,000 cash and a $3,000 recurring salary increase; graduate teaching assistants receive $3,500.

Other winners honored:

additional photoSandra KopelsTrish Loughran
Trish Loughran

Sandra Kopels, social work, and Trish Loughran, English, received the Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching. Each receives $5,000 and a $3,000 recurring salary increase.

Kopels has taught Social Work and the Law 91 times since 1990, reaching more than 2,450 students, and making the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent all 91 times. She brings complicated concepts to life through humor and a deep appreciation of the law and its impact on social work practice. Her peers explain her teaching as a process of rediscovery of the material with each class and each new student.

Loughran’s teaching style has been characterized as “relentlessly rigorous,” and each seminar she teaches has been described as an ‘immersive intellectual odyssey.” She challenges her students as well as provides them with the support they need to tackle the 12 to 13 books – and many more articles – she typically assigns in a semester. She describes graduate education as a “long-term intellectual practicum, an everyday kind of commitment.”

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Amy Wagoner Johnson

Amy Wagoner Johnson, mechanical science and engineering, received the Campus Award for Excellence in Guiding Undergraduate Research. The $2,000 award is designed to foster and reward excellence in involving and guiding undergraduate students in scholarly research. Because her work is interdisciplinary, she has influenced undergraduates in a variety of academic disciplines, including mechanical engineering, bioengineering, animal sciences and veterinary biosciences. Johnson encourages undergraduates to explore new research frontiers and motivates them to meet and even surpass their own research goals, answering questions in creative and unique ways.

Stacy Dymond
Stacy DymondMichael Loui
Michael Loui

Stacy Dymond, special education, and Michael Loui, electrical and computer engineering, received the Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring, which provides each recipient with $2,000.

Dymond’s mentoring style is extremely collaborative. While actively involving each graduate student in her research, she shares multiple opportunities for them to publish, often pushing them to submit the work as first author. She provides each with the additional support and guidance they need to grow as professionals and contributors to the field of special education.

In his mentoring, Loui works to develop “the whole student.” Not only does he work with them to develop their skills as engineers, he also brings the same level of rigor and thoroughness to their growth as communicators, especially in their writing. One former student said that Loui “expects a lot from his students” while being “active in their journey toward success.”

Emad Jassim and David Miller received the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, which provides each recipient with $2,000.

Emad Jassim
Emad JassimDavid Miller
David Miller

Jassim, the director of undergraduate programs in mechanical science and engineering, is a tireless advocate for undergraduate education and is dedicated to expanding opportunities for the more than 1,000 students in his department. Combining his academic background with industry experience, Jassim has created a department advising manual and implemented group advising, among other innovations.

Miller, a professor of animal sciences, is often the first faculty member students and parents meet, and he sets them at ease by providing pertinent information in a compelling fashion. Not only does he advise students as they progress through their degrees, he also serves as a research adviser and helps students explore their interests through undergraduate research projects. Miller also coaches the U. of I. Dairy Cattle Judging Team and is adviser to the Illini Dairy Club.

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Cris MayoMark Micale
Mark MicaleAmy Woods
Amy Woods

Cris Mayo, education policy, organization and leadership, received the Campus Award for Excellence in Distance Learning.

Despite her students’ varied geographic locations, Mayo is committed to creating a sense of “dynamic community” in her courses, even encouraging her students to find online spaces outside of class to meet. One student commented that she appreciated Mayo’s “rigorous online presence and insightful interjections from a distance,” which contributed to the student’s development of analytical, interpretive and writing skills.

Also honored were University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar for 2012-2013 Mark Micale, a professor of history, and Amy Woods, a professor of kinesiology and community health, who is the 2013-2014 Distinguished Teacher-Scholar.

Recently, other campuswide awards were given to staff members.

Eight civil service staff employees were honored with the Chancellor’s Distinguished Staff Award at a banquet April 22. The winners:

• Melissa D. Banks, the office manager in the department of statistics.

• Danial Branson, a laboratory animal care technician in the Division of Animal Resources.

• Joan M. Fiesta, a sergeant with the U. of I. Police Department in the Division of Public Safety.

• Gregory S. Harman, an office support specialist in the Graduate and Professional Admissions unit of the Graduate College.

• Kenneth W. Hill, an electrician for Facilities and Services, who works at the U. of I. research farms.

• Laura A. Ketchum, a business manager I in the department of education policy, organization and leadership in the College of Education.

• Tishia M. Sutton, a building service worker for Facilities and Services, who works in Gregory Hall.

• Donna Zimmerman, an administrative clerk for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Each recipient received $2,000 and a plaque. Recipients’ names also are engraved on a plaque displayed in the Staff Human Resources Office. Permanent staff employees with at least two years of service or retired employees in status appointments during the calendar year may be nominated for the award. A committee recommends finalists, who are then approved by the chancellor.

Six academic professionals were honored at an April 19 reception with Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence awards. The winners:

• Annie R. Abbott, the director of undergraduate studies in Spanish in the department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

• Cheelan Bo-Linn, a senior specialist in education for the Center for Teaching Excellence in the Office of the Provost.

• William P. Kruidenier, the coordinator of external relations in the department of natural resources and environmental sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, the director of the U. of I. Arboretum, and the associate director of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center in St. Charles, Ill.

• Patricia Malik, the director of Beckwith Residential Support Services and the assistant director for nonacademic services for the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services.

• Jane A. Scherer, an extension specialist in urban programming/Web development for U. of I. Extension and the director of its State Office of Web Development.

• Linda Tortorelli, the program coordinator for the Autism Program, which is affiliated with the departments of human and community development and of special education and is part of a statewide network funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Now in its 25th year, the program honors the accomplishments and contributions of academic professionals, who perform a range of vital functions for the campus community. They provide critical support for administration, research laboratories and educational programs, and offer important outreach programs throughout the state.

Recipients are selected for work, personal and professional contributions. Each winner receives a $2,000 award, a $1,000 increase in base salary and a $1,000 one-time budget increase for his or her department.

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