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Pictured, in the front row, from left, are Centennial Honors College Adviser Molly Homer, Associate Professor Ute Chamberlin, Professor Gloria Delany-Barmann and Assistant Professor Penelope Shumate. In the back row, from left, are Interim Provost Kathy Neumann, Professor George Mangalaraj, Interim RPTA Chair Michael Lukkarinen and WIU President Jack Thomas.
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Provost's Awards of Excellence Winners Announced

October 19, 2018

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MACOMB, IL – Five Western Illinois University faculty members and one academic adviser have been named the 2018 Provost's Award of Excellence winners. The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR) at WIU organized six-member committees charged with evaluating excellence in each of the determined areas.

"It is an honor to present the Provost's Awards of Excellence to our faculty and staff who have dedicated themselves to Western Illinois University and their students, and who go above and beyond to ensure that their students have an outstanding academic experience," said Interim Provost Kathy Neumann.

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching: Associate Professor Ute Chamberlin, College of Arts and Sciences

The selection committee noted: "In all of (her history) courses, she strives to convey her passion for both her discipline and her profession, working to highlight the relevance of history to the lives of her students, to awaken their intellectual curiosity, and, in doing both, to prepare them for their roles as citizens of the world. During the period under review, she supervised five students' MA requirements and served as a committee member for an additional six MA students, supervised four in-class honors projects, conducted independent studies for five students, and mentored a staggering 13 students as they prepared projects for presentation or publication. Three of her mentees wrote prize-winning essays under her supervision. Dr. Chamberlin also developed and led a study abroad course that took students on a two-week-long journey through Germany, a profound experience that included visits to the courtroom where the Nuremberg Trials took place and allowed students to stand on the podium from which Hitler delivered his hate-filled speeches. Finally, she has been deeply involved in curriculum development, including the creation of an interdisciplinary course that explores the Holocaust within the broader context of German and European history and culture."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus: Professor Gloria Delany-Barmann, College of Education and Human Services

The selection committee said: "Gloria is truly committed to internationalizing the campus, which permeates her work at all levels: teaching, research and service. Gloria has secured important funding from the Department of Education, which has impacted WIU faculty and students, as well as Puerto Ricans and Ecuadorians. Gloria is in an expert in bilingual education and trains teachers to teach English as a second language. With the help of a talented groups of scholars and instructors, Gloria has trained dozens of bilingual teachers who now teach K-12 throughout the state. Gloria has obtained three Fulbright Scholar Awards during her career, including one to Uruguay in 2018 (awarded in 2017), where Gloria spent her sabbatical building networks with locals, assisting academics and schools, and conducting research on teacher education and language policy. Together with some of her colleagues, Gloria secured a Department of Education's Title VI grant in the fall of 2016. This project supports faculty and students at WIU and Spoon River College to internationalize the curriculum and to study in Ecuador and Puerto Rico. Faculty and students from Macomb, Ecuador and Puerto Rico alike have taken advantage of the international opportunities to diversify curriculum and perspectives created by this grant.

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in University/Community Service: Michael Lukkarinen, interim chair of the WIU Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

The selection committee said: "Lukkarinen has been actively involved in dedicated service to the University, to the RPTA department and to the Macomb community, all of which specifically involve WIU students. Dr. Lukkarinen personifies the ideal of 'paying it forward,' which he recognizes as his guiding philosophy for engaging in service at various levels. Michael's commitment to enriching the WIU student body through face-to-face contact is best seen in his organization of school sports and mentoring in the Macomb youth community. In addition to his lengthy service record that includes activities like editing the International Journal of Learning in Higher Education or numerous college and department committees, Michael is a coach to numerous teams of athletes and the director of the Western Illinois Senior Olympics. Since 2005, Dr. Lukkarinen has also served as the director of the Western Illinois Senior Olympics. These tasks, and countless others, are those that present tremendous responsibilities to an individual and something that remains a part of Dr. Lukkarinen's life. This outlook requires a daily, weekly, and yearly commitment to engagement that will eventually come full circle through the betterment of a community and the education of our community members."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching with Technology: Professor George Mangalaraj, College of Business and Technology

The selection committee said: "Dr. Mangalaraj's use of technology permeates his teaching philosophy and includes course preparation, course delivery, student interaction, course feedback, utilization of new technological resources, innovative delivery methods and the dissemination of new methods and approaches to constituent groups. His teaching includes online delivery of courses, where he has revised methods and combined video podcasts into Powerpoint presentations that have improved the learning environment for students. Of particular merit is Dr. Mangalaraj's commitment to seeking innovative solutions to costly software distribution paradigms. Through grants from major sponsors and use of 'virtual machine' technologies Dr. Mangalaraj has enabled easy access for students with regard to expensive cloud-based software packages. He has also made software available to students through educational partnerships with the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance. Of particular merit is Dr. Mangalaraj's commitment to seeking innovative solutions to costly software distribution paradigms. His dedication to student involvement is evident in the organizational efforts to bring industry specialists to campus, register students for workshops and installing necessary software on lab computers for workshop attendees."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performance/Professional Activities: Assistant Professor Penelope Shumate, College of Fine Arts and Communication

According to the selection committee: "Dr. Penelope Shumate's philosophy for approaching her activities as a performer is to strive for excellence, promote artistic enrichment, grow as an artist, effectively manage challenges and serve as a mentor to her students. As a professional soprano soloist, she competes with the largest group of singers for each engagement. Her resume includes appearances as a soloist in local community performances, faculty recitals, regional organizations in Illinois, Virginia and Louisiana, and performances in prestigious national venues, including the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Dr. Shumate serves as a role model for her students. Her performance activities help inform her teaching philosophy. She records all of her student's performances, reviews them with each student, and discusses accomplishments, as well as possible improvements. Despite her busy performance schedule, Dr. Shumate teaches a full schedule of courses in applied voice, phonetics and diction in the School of Music. She teaches complementary voice lessons to prospective students and works to recruit students to Western Illinois University by participating in summer music institutes, performing at high school choir events and Discover Western events."

Outstanding Academic Advisor: Molly Homer, Centennial Honors College

According to the selection committee: "Dr. Molly Homer has worked as an academic advisor for the WIU Honors College for over 15 years. She is active in numerous academic recruiting and retention activities, as well as campus community events. Dr. Rick Hardy, dean of the Centennial Honors College states that 'For many students, Dr. Homer's office is a safe haven from the anxieties and pressures associated with the high expectations of the honors students. She puts them at ease, always encourages them to do their best, and enjoys learning about their experiences. This is what good advising is about.' Student Wil Gradle stated 'Dr. Molly Homer exemplifies that which every advisor strives to be. Dr. Homer is courteous, caring, and compassionate. Most striking, is Dr. Homer's proclivity to go above and beyond in serving her students, catering to each individual student's needs despite the above-average load of students she advises. Student success relies on the support of excellent faculty and staff; Dr. Homer ranks among the best.'"

For more information about the awards, visit

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