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CAS Honors Students, Faculty

April 27, 2006

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois UniversityÂ’s College of Arts and Sciences honored several faculty and students at its 2006 spring awards reception April 21.

The teaching award was presented to Dan Colvin, a 34-year English professor who has developed a model method of teaching Shakespeare-as-performance, a technique he learned at a yearlong National Endowment for the Humanities seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. He has shared this method with colleagues, which has resulted in teaching innovations within the department.

The research and scholarly activity award was presented to Shengming Tang, sociology professor, who has had 16 professional articles on primary social institutions published. These include the economy, family, education and religion. Tang also has published research in the field of race/ethnic and minority relations and has authored two textbooks on social research methods.

The service award was presented to Virginia Boynton, history professor, who joined the University in 1995. Since that time she has served on most all departmental college and University committees and has represented Western at local, regional and national events and conferences. Much of her service is on committees working to improve curriculum and to strengthen teacher education programs.

The award for recent outstanding undergraduate research was presented to Kenneth McCravy, biological sciences assistant professor, who has introduced advanced technology to his classroom and laboratory presentations and is developing new open-ended lab experiences for his students. He includes students in his research activities from conception of experiments to peer evaluation of results through presentation and publication.

The award for career outstanding undergraduate research was presented to Ray Majeres, psychology professor, who has supervised at least 17 independent research projects and 12 honors theses, facilitated student conference presentations and published refereed journal articles with three undergraduate students.

The award for teaching with technology was presented to Steve Bennett, geology associate professor, who uses discipline-specific software in hydrogeology labs and incorporates PowerPoint presentations, including video and animations, in his courses. Bennett created an interactive PowerPoint presentation to help students identity minerals and rocks. He also offers workshops for colleagues on PowerPoint, using Excel as a gradebook and use of the Classroom Performance System.

The internationalization award was presented to Siyoung Park, geography professor, who has tirelessly worked to internationalize the campus since joining the University in 1989. She teaches Introduction to Human Geography and Monsoon Asia, has served as an adviser to the Korean Student Association, has offered Korean language instruction and was part of a WIU recruiting trip to Korea. In Summer 2005 Park received a Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad Grant and led 12 high school teachers to Korea.

The multicultural teaching award was presented to Abdul Rasheed NaÂ’Allah, associate professor and chair of African American studies, who uses films studies, literature and theatre to help educate students to shared human experiences across cultures. In addition to his own teaching, NaÂ’Allah often hosts international guest scholars to speak to students and faculty across campus.

Senior biology major Katie Pickford (Sterling, IL 61801) was presented the Student-Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award for her project to map the locations of native and invasive plant species in western Illinois adjacent to the Niabi Zoo in Rock Island County. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Eric Ribbens, Pickford will work with zoo personnel, who plan to build a nature trail through the wooded natural area, and advise them about educational possibilities they can use to teach visitors about native plants along the trail.

College of Arts and Sciences Student Council Honorary Recognition Awards were presented to the following students:

Elizabeth Kay Michael (Marshalltown, IA 50158), a senior chemistry major, received the award in math and natural sciences. A track and field student-athlete, Michael is a member of Blue Key Honor Society, Phi Sigma Alpha Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi. She has been offered a teaching assistantship and will instruct two chemical laboratories when she pursues her doctorate in chemistry at Purdue University.

Jennifer Benson (Aledo, IL 61231), a senior with majors in psychology and law enforcement and justice administration and a minor in forensic science, received the award in social sciences. She previously won the College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Grant. Benson is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies and also is a mentor with Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Macomb. She intends to attend graduate school studying forensic psychology. Her career goals include working for a federal law enforcement agency as a psychological consultant and conducting research.

Sara Blair (East Moline, IL 61244), who will graduate in May as the Journalism Departmental Scholar, received the award in humanities. She has been a staff writer for the University’s student newspaper (Western Courier) and has written for the college’s “Focus” magazine. Blair also serves as newsletter editor for the Golden Key Honor Society. Her plans include graduate school, and ultimately she would like to complete her doctorate and teach at the university level.

The Student Council Departmental Organization Recognition Award was presented to the African American Studies Department Club, with a mission to bridge cultural gaps on campus and to motivate and educate all campus and community members on cultural issues that affect us all. The club frequently collaborates with other groups and departments and designs programs that positively impact student life and promote responsible citizenship.

Three retiring faculty members were recognized for their years of service to the college and the University.

Charles Helm, professor and chair of political science, came to Western in 1972. He leaves the department April 28 following nine years as chair and 34 years as faculty in the college. Among his long list of service to the University is chair of the first general education curriculum committee and co-chair of WesternÂ’s involvement in the American Democracy Project. In 2004, Helm became the director of the newly-opened Western Illinois Survey Research Center; he received the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Service Award; and he was selected the College of Arts and Sciences Liberal Arts Lecture, now called the CAS John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture.

L. Deckel McClean, professor of journalism and director of the journalism program since 1996, will retire from Western after 24 years of service. A graduate of Harvard and the Boston College Law School, McClean taught journalism at Boston University and Syracuse University before Professor Jai Lee brought him to Western in 1982. McClean has published more than 30 articles on his teaching specialization of communications law. He also has written two books, “Essay on the First Amendment,” and “Privacy and Its Invasion.” In 2004 McClean published his first mystery novel, “Three Sisters,” and plans to write more fiction in retirement.

Essie Manuel Rutledge, sociology professor, will retire after 30 years of service to Western. She came to Western in 1976 as chair of the African American Studies department and joined the sociology and anthropology department in 1985. Her areas of research include social psychology, black women and black family, and aging and social gerontology. Rutledge, who served a postdoctoral fellowship in applied gerontology with the Gerontological Society of America in 1989, has been a regular contributor to professional journals and publications. She is past president of the Association of Black Sociologists, an editorial board member of the Journal of African American Studies and a contributor to “Black Women in American, Second Edition” (Oxford University Press, May 2005).

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