Thursday, May 02, 2019

UIS faculty members receive awards for teaching and service; tenure, promotions and sabbaticals announced

The University of Illinois Springfield held its annual Faculty Honors Reception on Tuesday, May 1, 2019. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Dennis Papini presided over the ceremony honoring faculty members who have been recommended for tenure and/or promotion, been awarded sabbaticals or granted emerita/emeritus status. Three major awards – the Pearson Faculty Award, the Spencer Faculty Service Award and the Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award - were also presented.

The Pearson Faculty Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Layne Morsch, associate professor of chemistry. The award recognizes a faculty member whose performance exemplifies UIS’ commitment to excellence in teaching and who stands among the very best teachers on campus. 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 Emmet and Mary Pearson, longtime benefactors of the campus.

Morsch came to UIS in 2008 as an expert in organic chemistry to teach students across the spectrum of science majors that require these courses.

In the subsequent 10 years, he has used pedagogical and technological innovations to transform his chemistry classes. Morsch is currently using a flipped teaching style in his organic chemistry classes where students watch 140 video lectures that he created, over the course of the academic year at home, and then class time is spent actively solving problems and engaging in discussions.

Morsch was one of two professors asked to pilot test the newly developed ChemDraw app, a chemical structure drawing software, and he also pilot tested two chemistry learning games that allow students to physically interact with three dimensional chemical structures. In 2015, Morsch was named an Apple Distinguished Educator. In this capacity he advises Apple’s education team about the use of technology in higher education and works with colleagues across the U.S. and in Canada to implement new teaching techniques using technology. Morsch also created a public iTunes U course for the two organic chemistry classes that he teaches that currently has over 19,000 subscribers.

In 2017, Morsch founded the Excellence in Teaching & Learning Fellows Program at UIS that encourages faculty to engage with high impact teaching practices. He is also the founding leader of the Community for Innovative & Engaged Learning (CIEL) where faculty at UIS can share best practices related to innovation in the classroom. Finally, Morsch has given numerous presentations at national and international conferences and invited talks at colleges and universities about his teaching innovations.

The Spencer Faculty Service Award was given to Xiaoqing Li, professor of management information systems. 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.

During his 18 years of tenure at UIS, Li has established a record of exceptional service at all levels and he has been recognized by the Department of Management Information Systems and College of Business and Management (CBM) for his work. He is a current member of the CBM executive committee, which involves the most important decision process in the college, and he has also served on the college curriculum committee. At the university level, Li has served on the campus senate for 13 years and was the secretary on the senate executive committee in 2015-2016. He has also been a member of and chaired important university committees, such as the graduate council and tenure review committees. At the University of Illinois System level, Li has represented UIS on the University Senates Conferences (USC) on two separate occasions. While on the USC, he served on the executive committee twice and the academic affairs & research committee, hospital & health affairs committee, and finance, budget & benefits committee.

Li is known for being a helpful and supportive member of the UIS faculty who is willing to take on important leadership roles.

Li is also an active participant in his professional discipline. He has served on the editorial review board of the International Journal of Information Systems in Service Sectors for 11 years and has reviewed papers for the American Journal of Information Technology and Information, Technology & People. In the Decision Science Institute and INFORMS, Li has regularly served as a session chair for national and international conferences.

Kim Wiley, assistant professor of public administration, was honored with the Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award. The award was established by Burks Oakley II, who helped launch UIS’ online programs and was also in attendance at the event The Oakley Award recognizes UIS faculty members whose performance exemplifies the institution’s commitment to excellence in online teaching.

Wiley came to UIS in 2016 and is at the forefront as an innovator in her online and blended public administration courses. Her philosophy of bridging life experience with foundational and specialized coursework while emphasizing engagement and accessibility is complimented by her commitment to utilizing new technology. Wiley has incorporated a number of learning strategies into her courses that afford students the opportunity to incorporate abstract theoretical concepts and apply them to real world situations. Wiley’s teaching is student-centered, places special emphasis on communication that creates a community of inquiry, and leverages professional experiences of her students. Wiley uses a variety of teaching techniques including scaffolding, practice based assessments, video presentation assignments, blogs and Twitter.

The committee was particularly impressed by the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service’s assessment of Wiley’s teaching. According to Ray Schroeder and Vickie Cook, Wiley exceeded expectations in course design and facilitation, appropriate use of assessment, content, and teaching new technologies, and student support, while meeting accessibility expectations. Wiley has shared these insights with colleagues in a number of ways, including numerous faculty training sat UIS, one-on-one faculty consultations on assessment, participated in an online teaching panel and shared her insights into online teaching with the broader audience of the Midwest Political Science Association conference. Wiley also presented “Lost in Translation: Critical Pedagogy in the Online Classroom” and has a paper based upon this work under review.

Faculty members Elham Buxton, computer science; Brytton Bjorngaard, art, music & theatre; Shipra Gupta, business administration; Liang Kong, mathematical sciences; and Michele Miller, psychology, were recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor.

Recommended for promotion to full professor were Hua Chen, biology; Lan Dong, English & modern languages; Richard Gilman-Opalsky, political science; and Ranjan Karri, management. Vickie Cook, educational leadership, was recommended for promotion to research full professor.

Faculty members nominated for emeritus status and recognized at the event were William Abler, human development counseling; Sara Cordell, English & modern languages; Scott Day, educational leadership; Hilary Frost, political science/global studies; Brian Kahn, teacher education; David Larson, management information systems; Linda McCown, allied health/clinical-medical laboratory science; Charles N. Wheeler III, public affairs reporting; and Cynthia Wilson, teacher education.

Sabbatical leaves have been recommended for Adriana Crocker, political science; Lan Dong, English & modern languages; Xiaoqing Li, management information systems; Jennifer Manthei, sociology/anthropology; Layne Morsch, chemistry; Sheryl Reminger, psychology; Yona Stamatis, art, music, & theatre; Nathan Steele, management; Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, art, music, & theatre; Jorge Villegas, business administration; and Yifeng Zhang, management information systems.

All promotion, tenure, sabbatical leave, and emerita/emeritus status recommendations are subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

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