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Provost's Awards of Excellence Winners Announced

September 27, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Six Western Illinois University faculty members and an academic adviser have been named 2007 Provost's Award of Excellence Winners. They will be recognized for their achievements at a reception Tuesday, 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 Renee Polubinsky, assistant professor of kinesiology, director of the athletic training education program and the internship coordinator. Polubinsky's "impact on the department and her 21 years of practical experience," which also included taking an active part in the accreditation process and creating new programs, were among her many noteworthy qualities cited by the committee.

"Dr. Polubinksy has both a passion for her field and for her students' success. In the past three years she has written more than 60 letters of recommendations and her students have an 82 percent first-time passing rate on the national board examination, well above the 54 percent national average," the committee added. "She not only inspires students, but other faculty as well. While conducting a peer review of one of Polubinsky's classes, her colleague wrote that she found herself so caught up in the class, she had to restrain herself from entering into the discussion."

Management Associate Professor Barb Ribbens has been named the 2007 recipient for Excellence in University/Community Service for her service on five departmental committees; serving as co-editor of the college Journal of Contemporary Business Issues; and participating in the implementation of several international grants.

"Dr. Ribbens believes things worth doing are worth doing well," the committee wrote. "Her University level service includes participating in the nursing program taskforce, the Women's Center Advisory Board and the Center for International Studies director's search. Within the community she serves on the McDonough District Hospital Board and has moderated a panel for the Macomb Development project. Be it in her academic and professional life, as well as in the community, Dr. Ribbens' service is an instrinsic part of her life."

Management Associate Professor Rajeev Sawhney received the Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus for teaching nine different courses with international content, incorporating a significant amount of his own research on international issues into the curriculum and exposing the students to the latest developments in their area.

"Dr. Sawhney's education and work experience in different parts of the world have provided him with a unique perspective toward creating a culture of internationalization," the committee stated. "He has developed four teaching modules on how to do business in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India that have been downloaded on the agriculture department website; and he has participated in several grants and investigated global supply chain in the aeronautical industry for solutions to delivery issues."

The Provost's Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performative/Professional Activities Award recipient is Donna McCaw, associate professor of educational leadership. According to the committee, during the last three years, McCaw has demonstrated outstanding scholarly and professional activities at the local, state, regional, national and international levels.

"She has published and presented research, conducted professional workshops, served as a book reviewer, written a forthcoming book and successfully written both state and federal grants totalling more than $800,000 in fudning for significant educational programs such as 'No Child Left Behind,' the committee said. "Dr. McCaw has partnered extensively with school districts across the state to improve teaching effectiveness for literacy, enhancing middle school student's mathematical skills and mentoring leadership development. Her thirst for knowledge and her tireless work to improve student achievement is a shining example of what can be accomplished with perseverence and hard work."

The 2007 Award for Excellence in Multicultural Teaching will be presented to Broadcasting Associate Professor William "Buzz" Hoon for introducing a multiculturalist's perspective into all aspects of his pedagogical practice, including creating a new curriculum, "Mass Media and Minorities," that specifically looks at broadcasting through a multicultural lens.

"Dr. Hoon incorporates multicultural perspectives in courses that don't, at first sight, seem to lend themselves to this kind of teaching, as for example, BC 426, a sports broadcasting course, where in the most literal sense a minority perspective is brought to camera work, editing and production," cited the committee. "Outside of the classroom, Dr. Hoon has participated in the assessment of multiculturalism in the general education curriculum and he researches and presents both nationally and internationally on minority representation in the mass media."

Bradley Dilger, English and journalism associate professor, is the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching in Technology Award for taking great strides in improving the technological abilities of his students.

"One of Dr. Dilger's main goals is not to just show technology, but to help the user apply technology tools meaningfully and effectively," the committee stated. "He uses a variety of technologies in his classroom: social bookmarking, photo sharing services and citation managers. After learning how a technology works, students must create their own projects using these services. Dr. Dilger has become a major resource on web accessibility and provides guidance for campus policies on accessibility. He has presented on this topic nationally and was awarded the President's Excellence in Diversity Award for Accessible Course Design."

Donna Wynn Bradford, a law enforcement and justice administration adviser in the College of Education and Human Services Advising Center, was named the 2007 Outstanding Academic Adviser at Western.

"She handles a very large caseload of advisees, and she is especially helpful with new students. They are often anxious when they first meet with their academic adviser and don't know what to expect. Donna immediately puts them at ease," said her nominators. "We love working with Donna. She is fun, is concerned about the welfare of others and is an advocate for her students. She is a dedicated employee and has a strong work ethic."

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