Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Faculty honored for excellence and commitment as teacher-scholars

The University of Illinois Springfield held its annual Faculty Honors and Recognition Reception on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Chancellor Harry Berman and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs 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 Pearson Faculty Award, the Spencer Faculty Service Award, Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award and the Faculty Excellence Award -- were also presented.

The Pearson Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Heather Dell, associate professor of Women & Gender Studies. The award recognizes a faculty member who has established a record of teaching excellence and supports his or her continuing development as a teacher and a scholar. The award was established by a gift from Dr. Emmet and Mary Pearson, longtime benefactors of the campus.

“Professor Dell is known as a teacher-scholar whose passion for excellence in teaching and commitment to scholarship serves both her students and her colleagues well,” said Berman in presenting the award. “Her colleagues praise her ability to inspire students through her use of thought-provoking questions, skillfully conducted substantive discussions, creative exercises, and innovative approaches to experiential learning and study abroad.”

The Spencer Award was given to Tih-Fen Ting, associate professor of Environmental Studies. 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.

“Professor Ting brings an impressive level of focus, energy, dedication, and skill to her professional service endeavors, and she has established a remarkable record of substantive and meaningful service at every level,” said Berman.

Ting has been a long-standing member of the Campus Senate and has served as chair for several years. She has also served on or chaired multiple search committees for campus-level administrative personnel, including a search for a Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Most recently, she represented the campus as a member of the University Senates Conference and as a member of the U of I Presidential Search Committee.

Michael Cheney, professor of Communication was honored with the Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award. The award was established by Burks Oakley II, who helped launch UIS’ online programs. Cheney is known for his creative use of a wide variety of technologies to reach students with varying learning styles, and his openness to the use of new technologies in teaching has made him a role model among his peers.

“By all accounts, he has been quite successful in designing high quality online courses that students find both engaging and educational,” said Berman. “Not surprisingly, web statistics indicate that his work is also very popular. Podcasts of his course on the Beatles have been accessed more than 2 million times and downloaded by nearly 500 thousand.”

Professor Cheney has also been instrumental in developing and delivering several innovative online courses involving the Emiquon project.

The Faculty Excellence Award was given to Peter Boltuc, associate professor of Philosophy. The award is intended to recognize sustained, career-long accomplishments at UIS in teaching and scholarship. It provides an opportunity to honor colleagues who best exemplify the ideal of the teacher-scholar and whom the faculty recognize as role models. The award is funded through the generosity of Wilbur and Margaret Wepner.

Boltuc has established a strong record of scholarship that includes having published in international as well as national journals in his field. His recent work on machine consciousness has brought him international attention. In addition to his scholarship, Peter has served on the Board of the American Philosophical Association and as editor of the Association’s newsletter on Philosophy and Computers, which is gaining in prominence under his direction.

“Dr. Boltuc’s combined interests in computers and philosophy are also reflected in his teaching,” said Berman. “He successfully led the UIS Department of Philosophy in developing an online baccalaureate degree program, which was one of the first of such programs in the world, and has published and presented work on e-Learning and philosophy.”

Recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor were Len Bogle, Tena Helton, Kathy Jamison, Nithya Karrupaswamy, Jennifer Manthei, Linda McCown, Sheryl Reminger, Peter Shapinsky, Holly Thompson, John Transue, Te-Wei Wang, and Yifeng Zhang. Michael Lemke was promoted to the rank of full professor.

Receiving the designation of emeritus faculty were Harry Berman, Mary Bohlen, Loretta Meeks, Tim Miller, Don O’Neal, and Theresa Sullivan-Stewart.

Sabbatical leaves were granted to John Barker, Sara Cordell, Shahram Heshmat, Jason Pierceson, Sheryl Reminger, and Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson.

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

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