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2014 Provost's Award Recipients: front row, l-r, President Jack Thomas, Cathy McMillan, Bhavneet Walia, Kate Pohlpeter, Provost Ken Hawkinson; back row, l-r, Vincent Auger, Seung Won Yoon, Brian Peer. Not pictured, Sarah Haynes.
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Provost's Award of Excellence Winners

October 21, 2014

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MACOMB, IL -- Six Western Illinois University faculty members and one academic adviser have been named 2014 Provost's Award of Excellence Winners. The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR) at WIU organized six-member committees charged with determining excellence in each of the determined areas.

"I'm pleased to present the Provost's Awards of Excellence to the WIU faculty and staff who have distinguished themselves," said Provost Ken Hawkinson. "I'd like to acknowledge their commitment to our students and to the University. Each recipient represents the quality of the educators and staff here at WIU."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching with Technology
Seung Won Yoon, Instructional Design and Technology

The selection committee noted: "Professor Yoon's teaching philosophy is formed on the idea that learning technologies are only as effective as the people behind them. Dr. Yoon focuses on design and delivery of his courses using sound design strategies and principles. The instructional design process is an active one, built on the interaction between humans and computers. The principles applied to his courses provided a consistency across many technologies and media types. This allows students to learn good design practices through class content, and moreover make direct connections with the experience of systematic design, including working with design professionals and clients in the field. His teaching methods leverage technology and practice to bring students, peers, business, and the learning organizations together in a rich experience for students. He is extremely effective at making responsive connections with students using communication technologies, tools and processes they will likely use on the job. His engagement, effectiveness, and innovation are noted by his students, particularly his dedication to providing collaborative and advanced technical and experiential opportunities. He has made great efforts to share his experience with others through published research, presentations and service activities. Professor Yoon's sound efforts in the use of technology for teaching and learning instructional design provide a more effective understanding of the role of technology in the field, and the relationship between teacher, technology and student that is critical to academic and job success."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in University/Community Service
Cathy McMillan, Department of Kinesiology

The selection committee said, "Ms. McMillan is active at the state, community, University and departmental level, and her service contributions are wide-ranging and far-reaching. Many of her projects directly involve her kinesiology students. At the state level, Ms. McMillan is involved with the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD), and she is the grant coordinator for IAHPERD's bi-annual grant applications, as well as the student mentor coordinator for student research projects presented at the annual conference. She is a nationally certified Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) instructor, providing training to public school districts throughout the state. Ms. McMillan has served as an evaluator for the newly revised Illinois Standards for Physical Development and Health, and she promotes physical education and wellness by advocating these topics to state legislators in Springfield. Throughout the Macomb community, she and her students provide fitness assessments to city and county police and fire departments, and she also conducts presentations for the Macomb School District. At the University level, Ms. McMillan provides fitness assessments to the Office of Public Safety officer candidates, serves on the Bella Hearst Diabetic Institute and has played an integral role in the WIU Regional Illinois Science Olympiad. She serves as the faculty adviser for the Exercise Science Student Association and also helps plan and implement the Donna Phillips Memorial Fun Run/Dog Walk. She has also been involved with Western Walks, the WIU Wellness Program, WIU Women's Health Fair Committee and Leathernecks in Training."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performative/Professional Activities
Brian Peer, Department of Biological Sciences

According to the selection committee, "Dr. Peer's research work as an ornithologist concentrates on brood parasites, birds that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, and their hosts. During the last three years, he published 11 articles in leading ornithological and biology journals and other international publications. He also presented 15 papers at national, international and regional scientific meetings and was an invited speaker at two international meetings. He has also given talks at local and regional ornithology meetings. Dr. Peer also works to involve students in the research process and has served as adviser for several master's and honors' theses. Many of his students, including graduate students, have received grants, as well as funding from the Illinois Ornithological Society and the American Ornithologists' Union. In addition to his research, Dr. Peer serves the University and scientific community in a variety of ways. He has reviewed 50 manuscripts and grant proposals, and has also served on departmental, college and University committees, as well as an adviser to a student group. He serves the professional community as an elective member of the American Ornithologists' Union and as member, and subsequently, chair of the Ornithologists' Union Student Research Awards Committee. All of this work was done while teaching a full load of courses, including classes that are required for majors, graduate courses and writing-intensive courses."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Multicultural Teaching
Sarah Haynes, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

The selection committee said, "In teaching Asian religious courses, Dr. Haynes not only effectively delivers the main concepts but also creates a learning environment in which she promotes her students' critical thinking and independent learning. The projects she assigns to her students allow them to think not only about the course material, but how it should be disseminated effectively to a multicultural group. Dr. Haynes has co-organized a two-week study abroad trip to North India to study culture and religious practices, with Heather McIlvain-Newsad from the anthropology department. As she emphasizes experiential learning, she created opportunities for students to visit many religious and cultural sites, stay at a local farm and engage with different religious practitioners. Her effort to foster multicultural awareness is observed in her on-campus activities. She has served as the coordinator of the Paul Mundschenk and Mary Olive Woods scholarships that are given to the students with a high GPA in religious courses and exceptional creative/analytic skills. She also has chaired the general education committee in her department, enabling her to assess and integrate multicultural approaches to the religious studies courses in her department. She serves as a review editor of Journal of Buddhist Ethics and as chair of the professional organizations such as American Academy of Religion. Dr. Haynes strives to foster multicultural awareness and understanding in her department, college and University, as well as in her discipline at large."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching
Vincent Auger, Department of Political Science

According to the selection committee, "Dr. Auger's teaching philosophy evolved from three criteria that all of his best teachers, regardless of their field of study, demonstrated in the classrooms he sat in through the years. They all had enormous enthusiasm for what they did, they constantly demonstrated their expertise in their field and they provided encouragement and support, patiently listening and advising. Dr. Auger has been mindful of each of these variables each time he enters the classroom and it is clear that he, in turn, has become one of those 'best teachers' remembered by many of his own students. One of Dr. Auger's colleagues writes: 'Each semester, I ask the students in my capstone senior seminar what inspired them to become political science majors. Each semester a significant number of them tell me that they became political science majors after taking one of Dr. Auger's classes.' An example of Dr. Auger's innovative teaching methods is the use of an elaborate simulation he developed for the course 'Politics of the Global Economy.' The simulation requires that the students prep for a mock G-20 summit meeting. These projects, which require a high level of investment for the instructor, take students far beyond surface level knowledge. Dr. Auger's stellar student evaluations provide further evidence of his outstanding teaching, and his dedication to his students extends beyond the classroom. He serves as his department's graduate adviser and has been the faculty adviser for WIU's Midwest Model United Nations Team since 1999. He also helps students individually, teaching a number of independent studies, overseeing honors projects, and serving as chair and reader on many graduate thesis committees. Dr. Auger is also known as an excellent mentor within his department."

Provost's Award for Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus
Bhavneet Walia, Department of Economics and Decision Sciences

The selection committee noted, "Dr. Walia's record of international activities during the 2010-2013 period is highly commendable and makes her a natural choice to receive the award. She has taken part in numerous activities, including recruiting students, serving on the Council on International Education (CIE), participating in the International Neighbors Program and presenting to the WIU Food and Culture Club. Her recruiting work, under the direction of Mandeep Singh, took her to India to market WIU to numerous Indian universities, and her efforts have led to our first student applications from certain parts of northern India. Dr. Walia understands the importance of recruiting quality graduate students to Western's programs, and her efforts are already paying dividends. As CIE chair, she helps focus the curriculum through an international lens and ensures that students across the University receive an international perspective in the classroom. Dr. Walia's participation in the International Neighbors Program aided in acclimating international students to life at the University and in the community, and she has raised awareness for Punjabi culture. Dr. Walia's efforts make the WIU campus a more diverse, globally-focused community."

Outstanding Academic Adviser
Kate Pohlpeter, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

According to the committee, "Ms. Pohlpeter is a full-time faculty member who advises approximately 80 undergraduate majors in communication sciences and disorders. Her department chair noted 'She goes above and beyond the basic academic duties on a daily basis. Ms. Pohlpeter is a calming influence for students, she reassures them of their own abilities and provides suggestions for further strengthening their credentials. She has helped to build a department where the students are supportive of one another. Without a doubt our undergraduate program would not be as successful as it is without Ms. Pohlpeter's dedication to our students.' Her colleagues noted that the breadth of her knowledge about the University and its policies and the aptitude for counseling students in making life decisions make her an exemplary adviser. One of her students said, 'Without her, my first experiences at Western would have been far different, if not nonexistent. Kate is always quick to give my confidence a boost.'"

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