Friday, April 24, 2020

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

The University of Illinois Springfield held a virtual Faculty Honors Reception on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Chancellor Susan Koch and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Dennis Papini presided over the Zoom ceremony honoring faculty members who have been recommended for tenure and/or promotion, been awarded sabbaticals or granted emerita/emeritus status. Four major awards – the Pearson Faculty Award, the Spencer Faculty Service Award, the Faculty Excellence Award and the Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award - were also presented.

The Pearson Faculty Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Atul Agarwal, professor of management information systems. 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.

Agarwal joined UIS in 2009. Since then, he has taught many undergraduate and graduate courses in the operations management and management information systems areas. He has excellent teaching evaluation ratings that are above department, college and university percentages. Students describe Agarwal as being “very responsive” and “one of the best professors I’ve had…at UIS.” His teaching philosophy is well articulated and rests on five pillars of educational excellence to: create a learner-centered environment, encourage active learning, create “learned” vs. “high grade” individuals, encourage learning with fun and integrate new knowledge from scholarly work into student learning. He also applies great teaching innovation in his classes through his creation of class simulations that encourage experiential learning.

The Spencer Faculty Service Award was given to Tena Helton, associate professor of English and modern languages. 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.

Helton joined UIS in 2005, and over the subsequent 15 years she has completed a record of exceptional service at all levels of the university. She has held numerous leadership roles in the Department of English & Modern Languages that include chairing the department for seven years, chairing eight search committees, being the director of first-year writing for seven years and director of graduate studies for four years. She has served the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences on the executive committee, academic advising council and as dean’s fellow. At the university level, Helton has chaired the general education council and general education review committee. She has also served two terms on the campus senate and been a member of the graduate council and tenure review committee. At the University of Illinois System level, Helton has represented UIS on the arts & humanities steering committee. The review committee noted the numerous committees that Helton has chaired and the important, time-consuming committees of which she has been a member.

Helton is also an active participant in her professional discipline. She was a member of the MLA committee for the status of graduate students in the profession for three years and since 2006, she has been a moderator or presider at four conferences. Helton has provided service to the community as a discussion leader or panelist at the Vachel Lindsay Association, Decatur Public Library, Chatham Public Library and the Sangamo Club. In addition, she has been a moderator and scorer at several of the Rochester High/Junior High Scholastic Bowls and been a coach for the first Lego League numerous times.

The Faculty Excellence Award was presented to Heather Bailey, associate professor of history. The award recognizes mid- and late-career colleagues who best exemplify the ideal of the teacher-scholar and whom faculty recognize 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.

Bailey came to UIS in 2002, and since that time has taught 21 different lower division, upper division and graduate classes for the Department of History and Capital Scholars Honors Program. Associate Professor Elizabeth Kosmetatou, a colleague who has observed her teaching, describes Bailey as an enthusiastic teacher with the highest standards who incorporates her scholarship into her courses. Bailey is further described as having vast knowledge that enables her to move seamlessly between disciplines. In addition, she sometimes translates primary source material into English so that students with be able to access this valuable information. A graduate student, Sabrina Miller, describes Bailey as having a passion for history that helped to foster “the intellectual phoenix” in her.

Bailey also has an active research program that has produced two books of which she is the sole author: “The Public Image of Eastern Orthodoxy: France and Russia, 1848-1870” (2020) and “Orthodoxy, Modernity, and Authenticity: The Reception of Ernest Renan’s ‘Life of Jesus’ in Russia” (2008). Since 2017, she has completed five sole authored, peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Since 2002, she has given 14 sole authored, peer-reviewed presentations at national conferences and an international presentation in France. In addition, Bailey has reviewed numerous books and manuscripts. She is currently providing service to her profession as an executive board member for the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture, and she has engaged the Springfield community through presentations at the Springfield Art Association and German-American Club.

Donna Bussell, associate professor of English and modern languages, 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 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.

Bussell came to UIS in 2005, and she has taught many online courses in the Department of English & Modern Languages. She places high emphases on organization, communication, creating a welcoming atmosphere for students, and engagement through discussion forums in her online courses. In addition, she exemplifies qualities of an instructor who is student-centered. The use of course components that engage students to content, students to students and students to faculty are a hallmark of her pedagogy. Her communication and personal engagement in the courses are reflected in the student evaluations and comments from students.

Faculty members Tyrone Dooley, public administration; Jae Ha, communication; Anne-Marie Hanson, environmental studies; Sibel Oktay Karagul, political science; Megan Styles, environmental studies; and Adam Williams, public administration were recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor. Ahmad Juma’h, associate professor of accountancy, was also recommended for tenure.

Recommended for promotion to full professor were Deborah Anthony, legal studies; David Bertaina, history; Donna Bussell, English & modern languages; Sharon Graf, sociology/anthropology; Layne Morsch, chemistry; Kathy Petitte Novak, communication; Sheryl Reminger, psychology; Dennis Ruez, environmental studies; Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, art, music, & theatre; and Lucia Vazquez, biology.

Faculty members nominated for emeritus status were Rassule Hadidi, management information systems; Carol Jessup, accountancy; Laurel Newman; business administration; Hazel Rozema, communication; and Robert Wright, business administration.

Sabbatical leaves have been recommended for David Bertaina, history; Brytton Bjorngaard, art, music, & theatre; Donna Bussell, English & modern languages; Hua Chen, biology; Richard Gilman-Opalsky, political science; Stephen R. Johnson, chemistry; Michele Miller, psychology; Peter Shapinsky, history; Ann Strahle, communication; and Te-Wei Wang, 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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