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COFAC Announces Faculty Award Recipients

May 12, 2014

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MACOMB, IL - The Western Illinois University College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) has announced its faculty award winners for 2014.

The awards are chosen by a committee made up of six academic chairs and the dean of the college.

This year's award winners are:

Outstanding Creative Activity: Assistant Professor of Art Terry Rathje

This award is given for artistic achievement and has a variety of creative professional requirements. The recipient must have contributed to the intellectual environment locally, regionally, nationally or internationally through excellence in creative, performance or professional activities. The artist has also contributed to creative activity through performances, exhibits or design production, which is an invited activity of regional, national or international merit.

Rathje came to WIU in 1999 and he specializes in three dimensional design, sculpture and digital photography. He received his bachelor's degree from Teikyo Marycrest University and his master's degree in art and his master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa.

Outstanding Teacher: Assistant Professor of Art Ta-The Ku

This award is given for excellence in teaching, including interest and enthusiasm for undertaking teaching and promoting student learning. This award honors the course organization of faculty members, as well as their participation in professional activities.

Ku came to WIU in 2008 and specializes in art education and photography. He redesigned the art education major and encourages his students to participate in community arts events. He has also received Performing Arts Society (PAS) funding to create a community art school, which is taught in Macomb by art education students.

Ku received his bachelor's degree from Chinese Culture University, his master's degree from New York University and his doctorate from Indiana University.

Scholarly Activity: Assistant Professor of Communication Josh Averbeck

This award is given to faculty members for outstanding scholarship achievement and research. The faculty members are honored for contribution to the intellectual environment locally, regionally, nationally or internationally through excellence in research and for originality and creativity in research.

Averbeck received his master's degree in communication from Western and was chosen as the Wayne N. Thompson Graduate Scholar. He also received the 2012-2014 Wayne N. Thompson Endowed Professorship and began teaching at WIU in 2012.

Averbeck's research focuses on the nature of irony and how it impacts persuasion and interpersonal relationships. He also teaches in a paperless classroom and is creating an iBook for his persuasion classes.

Outstanding Service: Professor of Art Bill Howard

This award is given for contributions to the department, college, University and community. Faculty are honored for meritorious service and commitment to service activities.

Howard, who came to WIU in 2000, has been a very active member of the PAS Board for six years, the Mobile Computing Task Force, a six-year member of the University Research Council, a member of the Summer Stipend Committee and he has developed an exhibition series at McDonough District Hospital, where local artists and students can exhibit their work. He also helped created the local Rocky on Parade project, which raised more than $11,000 for art student scholarships and created a community art project for Macomb.

Howard has also worked with Fred Jones on the Cardiff, Wales printmaking exchange program, which will allow WIU students to study in Wales for WIU tuition costs. He received the 2013 Town and Gown award for exceptional service to WIU and Macomb.

Teaching with Technology: Assistant Professor of Communication Josh Averbeck

This award is given to a faculty member who demonstrates comprehensive or innovative uses of technology in their course work. The chosen faculty member has also demonstrated excellence in raising student awareness, understanding and deployment of technology.

For more information about the awards, visit

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