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WIU Provost Manoochehr Zoghi, Associate Professor Ian Shelly and COFAC Dean William "Billy" Clow
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WIU Provost Manoochehr Zoghi, Associate Professor Jeremy Robinett and COEHS Interim Dean Katrina Daytner
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WIU Provost Manoochehr Zoghi, Assistant Professor Jena Gardner and COEHS Dean William "Billy" Clow
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WIU Provost Manoochehr Zoghi, Professor Susan Stewart and CBT Dean Craig Conrad
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WIU Provost Manoochehr Zoghi, Professor Peter Cole and CAS Dean Susan Martinelli-Fernandez
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WIU Provost Manoochehr Zoghi, Academic Advisor Niall Hartnett and CAS Dean Susan Martinelli-Fernandez
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Provost's Awards for Academic Excellence Winners Announced

February 16, 2023

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – Five Western Illinois University faculty members and one academic advisor have been named the 2022 Provost's Awards for 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.

The awards were presented Wednesday, Feb. 15, by WIU Provost Manoochehr Zoghi.

This year's award winners are:

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Enhanced Learning with Technology: Ian Shelly, Department of Art and Design

The selection committee said Shelly's contribution using technology to enhance learning went "above and beyond, even during the COVID-19 pandemic."

"His courses on the multiple levels of Ceramics studio, and introduction to Studio Art were especially noteworthy," the committee said. "Delivering these traditionally in-person courses in a digital format could be challenging for many, but Professor Shelly's months-long work 'in his basement' made it possible and successful. He created and edited 26-course videos ranging from 15-90 minutes covering a range of techniques and concepts. These videos were for five courses, including all levels of ceramics and a studio-based art appreciation course. He also spent many hours demonstrating the entire process of making a sculpture in a digital format. He even offered his students the opportunity to drop off some of the finished works to be fired, which he noted had generated a lot of interest. Professor Shelly also strived to incorporate and make connections between ceramics and our modern world and various cultures. Despite rapidly increasing digital distractions, he accomplished this challenging endeavor by using available technological tools for his students."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in University/Community Service: Jeremy Robinett, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

The selection committee said over the past three years, Robinett has served as either a faculty advisor, chair and/or member of over 30 University, college, departmental and community committees and this award recognizes his "service over self" attitude.

"Although the mere number of service activities that Jeremy engages in on a yearly basis is extremely noteworthy, it is the impact and significant contributions he makes within those activities that demonstrate his excellence in University and community service. Dr. Robinett possesses an undeniable passion for and commitment to serving the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Administration, College of Education and Human Services, Western Illinois University and the Macomb community. His service embraces the philosophy of creating opportunities for inclusion and community development to enable others "to do better and be better." Dr. Robinett has received the Town and Gown Award for his efforts to bring the community and University closer together. He was also awarded the Community Service Award from the Performing Arts Society and was recognized as the Macomb Centennial Morning Rotary Club, Rotarian of the Year. One would think that his multiple layers of involvement would seem exhausting, but Jeremy, seems to look past what he does and continues to give of himself simply for the love of his community and sharing with the University as a partnership."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching: Jena Gardner, School of Music

The selection committee said it was impressed with Gardner's "innovating and sympathetic approach to teaching music during one of the most complex and challenging times in Higher Education writ large and at WIU in particular, namely, the COVID epidemic."

"Dr. Gardner developed a successful series of videos that not only aided her students in their learning, but which have also benefited many thousands more across the country. She understands that teaching during these adverse circumstances demands not only retaining academic rigor, but also necessitates an understanding that students are facing the same challenges that everyone else is: stress related to social connections being severed, severe illness of friends and family members, and even the death of loved ones. She reaches out to students to ensure they are not only doing well in her subject specialty, the teaching of horn, but to ascertain where they are in their well-being, opening a space for them to learn in an emotionally supportive environment. Dr. Gardner has also served the department with her strong, and, we should note, her successful efforts at recruiting new students and her efforts with the Community Music School, which allows her expertise and the expertise of others to be shared with the community. We should also note that a profound joy in teaching came through Dr. Gardner's application, a feeling, almost a kind of music, a radiant warmth infused with curiosity and passion for her subject and students."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performing/Professional Activities: Susan Stewart, School of Management and Marketing

The selection committee said Stewart was chosen the recipient of the award for a variety of reasons.

"First, Dr. Stewart has an outstanding record of publication, including five peer-reviewed journal articles, two in the top-ranked journal, during the award's relevant period of time, demonstrating her impressive list of research interests and activities. Second, Dr. Stewart has made an impact in the field. She has the highest number of scholarly citations among faculty in the WIU's School of Management and Marketing. Third, Dr. Stewart has made numerous conference presentations, showing her level of activism in the field. Fourth, Dr. Stewart is the recipient of many awards, demonstrating how highly her work is received at WIU. Finally, Dr. Stewart maintains a heavy teaching load, recognizing the importance of the classroom experience."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Multicultural Teaching: Peter Cole, History

The selection committee said Cole "demonstrates a very strong commitment to racial equality, social justice, and a diverse society in his teaching, research, and service."

"Dr. Peter Cole integrates equity issues seamlessly into his work, shares his disciplinary expertise in inequalities, and encourages student participation in activities that benefit our communities. Dr. Cole has integrated multicultural education in many different modalities, has facilitated service-learning projects, assisted student-led research initiatives about multicultural topics, welcomed interesting guest speakers into his courses, and published books and journal articles that his students (and many others) read. Notably, Dr. Cole founded and now co-directs the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project, a major public art and history initiative in Illinois for which he has obtained many grants and donations and garnered international attention. The public art portion of the project will place markers throughout Chicago commemorating each person killed in the riot. Dr. Cole has given presentations to many students on and off the WIU campus on this topic, includes this project in his teaching of WIU students, and has helped to introduce teaching about the riot in Chicago Public Schools. He has also enriched students outside of his classrooms by participating in events related to WIU's Black History Month and Veteran Resource Center."

Outstanding Academic Advisor of the Year: Niall Hartnett

WIU departments of Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology Advisor Niall Hartnett has been named the Outstanding Academic Advisor of the Year by the WIU Council of Academic Advisors.

"After working with Mr. Hartnett for years, I have seen him go above and beyond to improve the academic experience for WIU's undergraduate students, and the broader WIU community. His contributions to the Department of Psychology's curriculum are highly valued and he is a consistent advocate for our students," one of his nominators said. "I've had the opportunity work with Niall since he began working as an advisor at Western, and he is a competent, caring and resourceful advisor who puts his students' needs above all others. Our majors are fortunate to have his guidance as they navigate their college experiences at WIU," another nominator stated. "Despite maintaining one of the highest advisee caseloads at WIU and one that far exceeds guidelines, Niall is always quick to help an advisee, faculty or staff member. He is an engaged advocate for all academic advisors and he is grounded, practical and caring."

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