Friday, May 03, 2013

UIS faculty members honored for academic achievements at reception

The University of Illinois Springfield held its annual Faculty Honors and Recognition Reception on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Chancellor Susan J. Koch and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Lynn Pardie presided over the ceremony honoring faculty members who have received tenure and/or promotion, been awarded sabbaticals, or granted emeritus status. Four major awards – the Faculty Excellence Award, the Pearson Faculty Award, the Spencer Faculty Service Award, and the Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award -- were also presented.

The Faculty Excellence Award was presented to Donald Morris, professor of Accountancy. The award recognizes mid and late career colleagues who best exemplify the ideal of the teacher-scholar and whom the faculty recognizes as role models, based on sustained accomplishments in teaching and scholarship at the University of Illinois Springfield. The award is funded through the generosity of Wilbur and Margaret Wepner.

Morris teaches on-ground, upper-division courses in the areas of federal income tax and intermediate accounting, and graduate-level courses in income tax research and advanced taxation. He also handles an advising load ranging from 70 to 90 students.

“Dr. Morris is known as a passionate teacher-scholar with an exceptional ability to create a sense of community within the classroom,” said Chancellor Koch. “His colleagues describe him as a faculty member who has exhibited professionalism, leadership characteristics, and a strong work ethic. They cite his willingness to add an extra teaching load to assist his department and to be available for student advising over the weekends as examples of these qualities.”

The Pearson Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Carrie Switzer, associate professor of Psychology. The award recognizes a faculty member whose performance exemplifies our commitment to excellence in teaching and who stands among the very best teachers at the University of Illinois Springfield. Such a teacher both informs and inspires students, giving them the knowledge and values with which they may become productive and enlightened citizens. The award was established by a gift from Dr. Emmet and Mary Pearson, longtime benefactors of the campus.

Switzer specializes in educational and developmental psychology and teaches courses in Life-Span Development and Family Psychology, as well as the department’s required capstone course. She teaches in both online and on-campus modes of course delivery, and her courses are heavily enrolled.

“Her colleagues describe her as ‘a consummate instructor, advisor, mentor, and colleague’ and as someone who is willing to go beyond the call of duty for the benefit of students,” said Chancellor Koch. “She is known for being able to make tough assignments seem easy while still challenging students to think critically. Whether online or on-campus, she creates a classroom atmosphere that is respectful but open to lively constructive discussion of competing perspectives.”

The Spencer Award was given to Marcel Yoder, associate professor of Psychology. Honoring Robert Spencer, founding president of Sangamon State University, this award recognizes faculty who best exemplify the ideal of the “professor-citizen” through public service and service to the academic community.

“At the campus level, Yoder has made important contributions to the development of an academic integrity policy and to faculty understanding of the UIS Course evaluation form, but perhaps his most long-standing and influential service contributions have been to UIS athletics,” said Chancellor Koch.

He has served as a member of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee since 2002, and has chaired the committee for five years. Under his leadership, the IAC created procedures that promote strong and effective communication among student athletes, faculty, and athletics staff members, in support of student progress. Yoder has also served as the Faculty Athletics Representative since 2005, certifying the academic eligibility of student athletes in all UIS sports every semester, meeting with the Athletics Director and the Compliance Office, coordinating required Athletics Department self-studies, and attending Student Athlete Advisory Council meetings and National Collegiate Athletics Association conferences.

In a letter of nomination, colleagues wrote “Dr. Yoder’s passion and excitement about UIS Athletics is evidence in the numerous sporting events and team practices that he regularly attends….For the first day of soccer practice this year, he got up at midnight to run the two mile fitness test with the men’s soccer team and then ran one and a half miles the same morning at 9:00 a.m. with the women’s soccer team. This is just one example of his dedication to student-athletes and how he goes above and beyond his service obligations.”

Denise Sommers, assistant professor of Human Services and a research fellow in the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service, was honored with the Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award. The award was established by Burks Oakley II, who helped launch UIS’ online programs. The Oakley Award recognizes UIS faculty members whose performance exemplifies the institution’s commitment to excellence in online teaching.

Sommers received the award based on her ability to establish and maintain meaningful connections with her online students and to engage them so effectively in the learning process, as well as the fact that online education is a focus of her research and scholarship.

“Dr. Sommers is admired by colleagues for her ability to establish rapport with students online as well as for her work to integrate service learning experiences into her online courses,” said Chancellor Koch. “She introduced the use of Skype to facilitate the interviews required for admission to the graduate program in Human Services, and each semester, she meets, via Skype, with online students in her graduate Nonprofit Management and Grant-Writing courses to ensure that they have sufficient opportunities to have questions answered. She is known as being a very supportive and attentive professor in her online courses.”

Recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor were Atul Agarwal, David Bertaina, Jay Gilliam, Amie Kincaid, James Klein, Karl McDermott, Elizabeth Ribarsky, Hinda Seif, Roxanne Kurtz Smith, and Jorge Villegas. Receiving the designation of emeritus faculty were James Hall and Keith Miller.

Sabbatical leaves were granted to Deborah Anthony, David Bertaina, Donna Alfano Bussell, Hua Chen, Richard Gilman-Opalsky, Chung-Wei Lee, Ali Nizamuddin, Karen Pressley, Peter Shapinsky, Roxanne Kurtz Smith, Tih-Fen Ting, and Te-Wei Wang.

All promotions, tenure, sabbatical leaves, and emeritus status are subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

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