University News

Provost's Awards of Excellence Winners Announced

October 8, 2008

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MACOMB, IL -- Five Western Illinois University faculty members and an academic adviser have been named 2008 Provost's Award of Excellence Winners. They will be recognized for their achievements at a reception from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30 in the University Union Lamoine Room. The campus community is invited to attend.

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR) 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.

"I'm pleased to present this year's Provost's Awards of Excellence to the WIU faculty and staff who have distinguished themselves in the various areas," said Provost Jack Thomas. "I commend them for their commitment to students and to Western. Each of this year's recipients is truly indicative of the quality educators and staff we have at this University."

The Provost's University Award for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Jennifer M. Plos, a kinesiology instructor and clinical coordinator for the department's athletic training program.

"The activities that Dr. Plos completed during the last three years have demonstrated outstanding teaching methodologies and professional activities supporting her teaching philosophy and WIU's mission. Her commitment to her students and their educational experiences goes beyond the normal indicators of teaching excellence," stated the nominating committee. "She consistently received high teaching ratings across a span of introductory and higher level courses, especially in courses she teaches once a year. She serves as a mentor for freshmen students investigating a career in athletic training at the same time she is preparing senior level students to be competent entry-level athletic trainers. Jennifer's use of strategically integrated course assignments, such as web scavenger hunts to guide new students into the athletic training profession and real-life tasks for the seniors, such as completing inventories and the bid process for equipment purchases, are just a few of her strengths that make her an outstanding teacher."

Broadcasting Professor Buzz Hoon has been named the 2008 recipient for Excellence in University/Community Service for the breadth and variety of ways he has served the WIU campus, his professional organization and the overall community.

"Dr. Hoon's service demonstrates his eagerness and zeal for his profession and demonstrates a love for both broadcasting and education. He has been involved in leadership of the multiculturalism division of his national professional organization, the Broadcast Education Association. On campus, he has taken leadership roles within his department and has chaired the Council on Curricular Programs and Instruction, a council of the Faculty Senate," the committee wrote. "Buzz serves as the sport director for wiutv3 which provides opportunities for students to develop their skills, provides a glimpse of the broadcasting opportunities at WIU for potential students and also provides visibility for WIU Intercollegiate Athletics to the broader community. Though he often works behind the scenes, he has made significant contributions to WIU, Macomb and the region, and his various activities reflect his dedication to service."

Instructional Design and Technology Associate Professor Leuanda Hemphill received the Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus for her efforts to internationalize learning, teaching, research, presentations and publications. Through her efforts, Hemphill has built international alliances and has enhanced the international experiences of WIU students.

"Leuanda often uses global issues in her classes to spark conversation and to expose students to cultural differences. She has made efforts to allow exchanges between U.S. and Chinese students, and has co-authored articles with people from a variety of nationalities," the committee noted. "Further, Dr. Hemphill represented Western Illinois University when she presented at the First Global Summit Conference on Educational Technology in the Summer 2006."

The Provost's Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performative/Professional Activities Award recipient is Efrain Ferrer, physics professor. According to the nominating committee, Ferrer is an expert in the problems and methods of "quantum field theories under external conditions such as temperature, density, and external fields." His research findings unveiling the interconnection between a star's magnetic field and the super-dense phases of its core has attracted other physics researchers to look more closely at the interconnection of the magnetism of super-dense matter and astrophysics.

"Dr. Ferrer was selected because of his influence on undergraduate students, his international and national recognition, and the level of rigor in his research and the resultant peer-reviewed publications. In addition to eight published papers in first-rank journals, and presentations at scientific meetings and conferences, he has made many other contributions. For example, two of his papers have been published in books; and he has been an invited speaker at prestigious institutions, including the Niels Bohr Institute, Brookhaven National Lab, University of Granada in Spain, and others," the committee added. "He serves as a referee for prestigious physics journals, and has received awards for excellence at a previous institution, SUNY-Fredonia. He also has received funding from the Department of Energy that has supported two research assistantships and has led to a Master's of Science Thesis Project at Western Illinois University."

Mary Jensen, special education professor, is the recipient of the 2008 Excellence in Teaching in Technology Award for integrating technology into the teaching and learning process.

"The extent to which Dr. Jensen shares and incorporates her knowledge and expertise of the use of technology in teaching is impressive. She has used technology in a meaningful way to apply it to the learning process in terms of student activities, lessons and learning experiences," the committee said. "She continually receives excellent feedback from her students regarding the effectiveness and impact of the use of technology in the coursework, and she has integrated technology into teaching in the field of special education, particularly the SkillStreams social skills program."

Ellen Poulter, an English and journalism department adviser, was named the 2008 Outstanding Academic Adviser at Western.

"Mrs. Poulter has been an invaluable asset to the department. She thoroughly prepares for her meetings with students and continually rates highly on areas of her student evaluations," the nominating committee acknowledged. "Her caseload consisted of more than 312 majors in Spring 2008, as well as 226 students working on a minor. Even with that many students, Ellen has been able to remain sensitive to the students' needs and always goes beyond expectations to help them achieve academic success."

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