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WIU Names Outstanding First Year Experience Peer Mentor and Faculty Awards

June 9, 2006

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University recently named three students and six faculty members as recipients for the Outstanding First Year Experience Peer Mentor and Faculty Awards.

This award is given to First Year Experience peer mentors and faculty members to recognize their efforts in excellence throughout the semester. Both peer mentors and faculty are expected to use creative and effective methods to assist first year students in adapting to Western Illinois University and are expected to integrate goals and values into the classroom by relating to the four foundational goals of Western (academic excellence, educational opportunity, social responsibility and personal growth).

Lynn Aska (Paw Paw, IL), a sophomore music education-choral/general major, was praised for her consistent dedication, hard work, loyalty and excellent organizational skills in assisting Linda Fess and her Music 190 class. She has attended every class period, planned social activities for the students and prepared special presentations for the class.

Carlyn Jorgensen (Chatham, IL), a senior history and political science major, was cited for her initiative. She sought out First Year Experience activities for the students, engaged the students in discussions, created two events herself with special presentations and organized study groups before exams.

Amy Laughlin (Quincy, IL), a junior African American studies major, was praised by Assistant Professor Nancy Kwang Johnson because she regularly attended class; provided office hours; provided extended office hours during mid-term, finals week and before and after writing assignment deadlines and regularly attended numerous First Year Experience events outside of the classroom. Laughlin also created a writing workshop to help students prepare to write abstracts for conference papers for Western’s Undergraduate Research Day.

Outstanding First Year Experience Faculty Awards were presented to six faculty members.

William Anderson, a political science professor, received a nomination from his students, who stated, “the class was academically challenging and a great deal of fun.” He planned co-curricular activities and helped make the students aware of the University’s tools for self-improvement, such as requiring each student take a writing assignment to the writing center for revision. Anderson also asked the class to meet on the Courthouse Square to help clean up debris and litter to teach them the importance of community involvement.

Lee Brice, an associate history professor, was nominated for his creative approaches to helping students develop critical thinking skills. Brice used “field exercises” to teach students about Ancient Greek military formations and a medieval siege engine called a trebuchet. He exposed the students to multiple topics through guest lecturers and helped develop their critical thinking skills by expecting students to generate answers and ideas before approaching him for help.

Glen Haynes, an economics instructor, makes it a priority to know each student individually, according to his nominators. He initiated a community service project where students placed donation boxes around campus for the collection of items to be sent to Western-affiliated soldiers serving in Iraq, and he helped students learn more about Western’s campus and bond with each other by creating a photo scavenger hunt of nine WIU buildings. To enable his students to say goodbye and move on at the end of the semester, Haynes gives each student a memento from class.

Nancy Kwang Johnson, an assistant professor of African American studies, was nominated for her teaching style and quality guest speakers. She conducted three library workshops, as well as in-class writing workshops to help the students learn to write outlines, prepare for essay examinations, write thesis statements and write abstracts for research papers. Johnson took the students to other special events, such as the Soul Food Festival and the Tunnel of Oppression; and she invited special speakers for different views and information on race, religion and politics. Four of her First Year Experience students presented projects at Western’s Undergraduate Research Day.

Jill Myers, an assistant professor of law enforcement and justice administration (LEJA), was nominated because of the unique opportunities she provides for her students. Myers invites several outside agencies to Western to present all-day programs for her First Year Experience students; and she simulates the police physical exam sequence for those students who wish to enter into law enforcement. She takes students to the ROTC weapons range for instruction and usage of weaponry. Myers also invites various LEJA professors to meet her students in a relaxed social setting. She encourages her students to become involved in the community by giving students the opportunity to work with the local Habitat for Humanity.

Eric Ribbens, an associate professor of biology, incorporated case studies into the course framework, which includes a laboratory component, to help students develop their critical thinking skills and apply the concepts they have learned during his class. Some of the cases used were developed and written by Ribbens. He also included group work in his classroom to encourage discussion, reduce workloads while introducine new challenges and problems and focus on active learning.

OUTSTANDING PEER MENTORS PHOTO ID (L-R) - WIU Provost Joe Rallo; Carlyn Jorgensen (Chatham, IL), senior history and political science majors; Lynn Aska (Paw Paw, IL), sophomore music education-choral/general major; Amy Laughlin (Quincy, IL 62301), junior African American studies; and Sarah Craddock, FYE peer mentor coordinator, Provost Office

OUTSTANDING FACULTY PHOTO ID (L-R) - WIU Provost Joe Rallo; William Anderson, political science professor; Lee Brice, associate history professor; Glenn Haynes, economics instructor; Sarah Craddock, FYE peer mentor coordinator, Provost Office; Nancy Kwang Johnson, assistant professor, African American studies; Jill Myers, assistant professor, law enforcement and justice administration; Eric Ribbens, associate professor, biology

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