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Provost's Award of Excellence Winners

September 29, 2006

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MACOMB, IL – Six Western Illinois University faculty members and an academic adviser have been named 2006 Provost’s Award of Excellence Winners. They will be recognized for their achievements at a reception Monday, Oct. 23.

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR), under the direction of Mandeep Singh, organized colleagues who comprised the six-member committees charged with determining excellence in the following areas: teaching; teaching with technology; scholarly/professional activities; University/community service; internationalizing the campus; and multicultural teaching. A committee of faculty, students and academic advisers worked with the outstanding academic adviser recognition.

The Provost’s University Award for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Dan Colvin, English professor. Colvin’s self-declared commitment to “learner-centered education” was among his many noteworthy qualities cited by the committee, which also included innovative teaching, commitment to mentoring and dedication to literature.

“Dr. Colvin’s engaging and interactive class sessions challenge his students to appreciate the context as well as the content for their subject materials. His legendary ‘Shakespeare study guide’ has helped countless WIU students, encouraging them to see themselves as critical interpreters,” the committee added. “His courses place a novel emphasis on performance that enables his students to experience literature at the same time they contemplate its meaning. It is no surprise that his students have consistently cited his Shakespeare class as their favorite at WIU.”

Engineering Technology Assistant Professor Roger Runquist has been named the 2006 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching in Technology for teaching a wide range of software and hardware skills, and for encouraging his students to complete projects that are meaningful.

“Mr. Runquist always blends his teaching of the latest software with discussions of other timely issues related to the discipline that focuses on the use of technology,” the committee stated. “He has presented numerous workshops on campus for faculty and staff, and answers many questions regarding technology. He has demonstrated excellence in creating an online learning environment at WIU, which allows his students to learn new skills as they check their course assignments, share their projects through discussion boards and check their grades online.”

The 2006 Award for Excellence in Multicultural Teaching has been presented to Fetene Gebrewold, health sciences professor, for his involvement with the Summer 2005 Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program to Ethiopia. The project seminar in Ethiopia provided a five-week study abroad experience for 12 Illinois K-12 educators, led by Gebrewold and Carolyn Ward, a professor in WesternÂ’s educational and interdisciplinary studies department.

“Dr. Gebrewold has been involved in teaching, researching and presenting on local, regional and international arenas on issues such as multicultural health education, community international/environmental health and occupational safety. His recent work with the Fulbright trip to Ethiopia reflects his commitment and contribution to foster cooperative relationships in teaching beyond state and national borders,” cited the committee.

Tim Piper, kinesiology assistant professor, received the Provost’s 2006 Award for Excellence in University/Community Service for “giving back to a discipline and a community he believes have done so much for him.”

“Exercise enthusiasts and health-conscious people of all ages have come to associate his name with a passion for strength and conditioning, and a willingness to freely share his expertise,” the committee wrote. “Professor Piper has made significant contributions at all levels. In addition to his service to his department and the University, he has been active in and generous to the Macomb community. He has donated countless hours to the Salvation Army weight-training program. He has also worked with the Senior Olympics, YMCA of McDonough County and the Macomb High School and has helped his students test and train the elderly in nursing homes in the area. Mr. Piper embodies the spirit of public service, and we recognize how selflessly he has given to others of all ages.”

The ProvostÂ’s Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performative/Professional Activities Award recipient is Rajeev Sawhney, associate professor of management. According to the committee, Sawhney was selected from a pool of several highly accomplished professors.

“Dr. Sawhney produced four refereed journal articles, including a single-authored theory piece in his field’s most prestigious journal, and he conducted eight refereed conference presentations, including three at the prestigious Decision Sciences Institute, winning a national Best Paper Award for one of his presentations,” the committee said. “He was a co-recipient on three grants, totaling $391,000, each of which helped further the internationalization of the WIU campus. Dr. Sawhney also directed several student research projects that won outstanding research awards. He has been recognized in multiple Who’s Who publications and co-initiated the College of Business and Technology’s Research Seminar Series, which later was adopted Universitywide.”

Geography Professor Siyoung Park received the Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus for her work re-developing a Study Abroad program to Thailand and for serving as a member of the Provost's Committee on International Education. In addition with Patti Jones of University Advising and Academic Support Center, Park received a Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad program award to take 12 high school teachers to study and travel in Korea for four weeks to develop curriculum modules on Korean studies.

“Dr. Park teaches several courses with international perspectives and has established and maintains the Center for Korean Studies at WIU. She also completed a 20-page manuscript for the Western Illinois Entrepreneurship Center on ‘Cultural Diversity: Doing Business in Korea’ which will be published on their website,” the committee stated. “She has worked with the Korean Performing Arts in Seoul to bring a dance and music ensemble to WIU Oct. 7, and is involved in the Association of International Educators by contributing in-session programming at both regional and national conferences.”

In Spring 2006, Sharon Baffa Keeling, academic adviser for WesternÂ’s political science and sociology/anthropology departments, was named the 2006 Outstanding Academic Adviser at Western.

Keeling was cited for being a dedicated and organized adviser who has brought a variety of positive changes to the position. Not only have the number of sociology majors and anthropology minors increased since Keeling has served as the undergraduate adviser, but she has also willingly carried out numerous tasks that go beyond meeting studentsÂ’ needs, such as advising and updating the sociology/anthropology newsletter, web page and bulletin board and providing workshops on careers and internships.

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