The University of Illinois Springfield held its annual Faculty Honors Reception on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. 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 emerita/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 Leonard Branson, 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.
Professor Branson is recognized by his colleagues as one of the most effective and well-respected faculty in the College of Business & Management. His courses are known as being both challenging and engaging for students, and he has developed a number of innovative active learning exercises and team-based approaches to help students bridge the potential gap between classroom learning and real world applications.
“Branson is also an active scholar in his field,” said Chancellor Koch. “His research is interdisciplinary, and he has published 19 journal articles and presented 43 papers at refereed conferences over the last seven years.”
The Pearson Faculty Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Donna Bussell, associate professor of English. 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.
Bussell teaches at every level of the curriculum and also teaches in both on-ground and online modes of delivery. She actively engages in academic advising and in the mentoring of student scholarship outside the classroom. Her courses are writing-intensive and require students to engage in careful analysis of challenging works.
“It is clear that Dr. Bussell understands and honors the importance of student-centered teaching, and it is a testament to her interest and expertise in teaching that she manages so skillfully to challenge and support her students in good measures,” said Chancellor Koch.
The Spencer Faculty Service Award was given to Beverly Bunch, professor of public administration. 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.
Bunch’s philosophy of service indicates that she values being able to use her professional strengths to benefit communities. Her contributions to university service have included valuable work at department, center, and campus levels, and she has also provided extensive service to her profession and to the external community.
She has delivered training on budgeting for governmental and nonprofit organizations for public managers, county, treasurers, and city clerks. She has also applied her professional expertise to assist a number of community agencies with annual reporting requirements, research projects, program evaluations, and strategic planning. Bunch also serves on a community fund allocation panel for the United Way of Central Illinois.
“As you can see, Professor Bunch truly exemplifies the ‘teacher-citizen’ envisioned by our founding president,” said Chancellor Koch.
Karen Swan, the James J. Stukel Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership, was honored with the Burks Oakley II 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.
Professor Swan’s extensive record of scholarship represents well the teacher-scholar model that we value at UIS. Her research focuses directly on teaching and learning processes, and she is well-respected for the high quality of her work. She has received numerous awards and grants in support of her research agenda and serves as an expert consultant in online education.
“Dr. Swan’s philosophy of teaching is grounded in a social constructivist epistemology,” said Chancellor Koch. “She believes that learners construct meaning through experience and views her role as a teacher as one of bringing students together in social interactions that engage them with big ideas and help them assimilate and accommodate new learning.”
Recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor were Layne Morsch, Chemistry; Frances Shen, Psychology; and Denise Sommers, Human Services. Scott Day, Educational Leadership, was recommended for promotion to full professor. Receiving the designation of emerita/emeritus faculty were Kathryn Eisenhart, Donald Morris, Stephen Schwark and William Siles.
Sabbatical leaves were granted to Peter Boltuc, Lynn Fisher, Eric Hadley-Ives, Kathy Jamison, Amy McEuen, Dennis Ruez, Frances Shen, and Milissa Thibodeaux-Thompson.
Patricia Byrnes, Economics, and Ann Strahle, Communication, were named China Faculty Exchange Fellows.
All promotion, tenure, sabbatical leave, and emerita/emeritus status recommendations are subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.