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Provost's Award of Excellence Winners

October 18, 2011

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MACOMB, IL -- Six Western Illinois University faculty members have been named 2011 Provost's Award of Excellence Winners.

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR) at WIU organized six-member committees charged with determining excellence in each of the determined areas.

"I'm pleased to present the Provost's Awards of Excellence to the WIU faculty and staff who have distinguished themselves," said Interim Provost Ken Hawkinson. "I'd like to acknowledge their commitment to students and to the University. Each recipient represents the quality of the educators and staff here at WIU."

Provost's Award of Excellence in Teaching with Technology

Jill Myers, associate professor, School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration
According to the selection committee, "Successful teaching with technology requires not only dedication to developing personal digital skills and the digital skills of students, but also the ability to integrate technology into the pedagogy in a way that is engaging, motivating, and meaningful. Professor Myers has accomplished this in such a way that her efforts are a model example for all colleagues using technology in the learning process. Her philosophy on teaching with technology reflects a relevant approach that enables student potential. She does this by incorporating individual student viewpoints into the curriculum through real world experiences with the latest technology. Working with information using these tools helps students develop professional skills and keep up with rapid technology practices in the subject discipline. In turn the individual is more viable in the job market."

Provost's Award for Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus

Sarah Haynes, assistant professor, philosophy and religious studies
"Sarah F. Haynes is a scholar of Asian religions who understands global perspectives and has brought her expertise to curriculum enhancements in her department by developing such courses as 'Eastern Religions,' 'Ritual and Performance in Religion' and 'Comparative Asian Religious Thought.' In these courses she teaches students that the academic study of religion is about understanding others, not rejection based on personal bias," the selection committee noted. "In addition, because WIU does not officially offer Sanskrit, Dr. Haynes has taught Sanskrit to one or two majors who need Sanskrit to enroll in graduate school. She has developed two Study Abroad programs with other faculty members, and is taking students to India in January 2012. Haynes has tirelessly raised awareness on international issues by speaking on and off campus on topics related to her research and course materials."

Provost's Award for Excellence in University/Community Service

Christopher Sutton, professor, geography
The selection committee said, "In his philosophy of service, Dr. Sutton states that a faculty member should strive to serve at all levels: the department, the college, the University, the profession and the community, and that is exactly what he has done. When evaluating his record of accomplishment in service, one is struck by the fact that about half of his contributions are in leadership roles. He was co-chair for WIU's re-accreditation self-study, chair of his department's personnel committee, chair of two department search committees, web designer and administrator for his department, president of the Illinois Geography Society, president of the Macomb Centennial Morning Rotary Club and a member of the board of directors for the McDonough County Habitat for Humanity. Chris Sutton's long-standing commitment to and belief in the value of service to the university and the community alike embodies fully the very meaning of 'engaged scholar.'"

Provost's Awards of Excellence in Multicultural Teaching

Carla Paciotto, professor, educational and interdisciplinary studies
According to the award committee, "Dr. Paciotto has shown longstanding dedication to multicultural teaching in her discipline and to diversity across the University and community. Her own multicultural and multilingual background lends to her abilities as a multicultural educator and is demonstrated through her dedication to her work. She encourages her students to reach out beyond their social network by participating in the Center for International Studies Conversation Partners program, the WESL mentors program and 'cultural encounters' with WESL students. Her outreach to the community is exemplary, such as her Spanish language program in the Macomb school district. Students teach Spanish to kindergarten through third grade children, providing valuable multilingual teaching experience while fostering multicultural and foreign language skills for our children. She has also worked with the Beardstown School District recruiting 150 Latino and other immigrant high school students to the University."

Provost's Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performative/Professional Activities

Matt Bonnan, associate professor, biological sciences
According to the committee, "Dr. Matt Bonnan exemplifies excellence in scholarly activity. Over a three-year period, he received grant funding from WIU and National Geographic to collaborate with colleagues in South Africa to discover three new dinosaurs, including Aardonyx celestae (or "Earth Claw"). He developed methods for inferring the presence of soft tissues in dinosaur limbs, and charted the ontogeny and scaling of sauropod dinosaur limbs. As a result of his work, Dr. Bonnan published seven journal articles (including an article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London), presented 15 peer-reviewed presentations, presented eight public workshops on his research, and has been featured in documentaries and radio interviews. The discovery of Aardonyx celestae has garnered more than 600 web and media articles and has been covered by scientific magazines like The New Scientist. In addition, he has been incredibly successful integrating students in his research."

Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching

Jamie Johnson, professor, health sciences
"Dr. Johnson teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes and his student evaluations are outstanding at both levels. Dr. Johnson says, 'I strive to show my students that the student-teacher relationship should be lateral in nature, rather than hierarchical.' Dr. Johnson has participated in the Faculty Innovators Program and used this experience to produce specific technological teaching strategies, and he has also developed and delivered several new courses," the selection committee noted. "One of these new courses was the first course in the state which addressed the prevention of, and intervention response to, attacks that may be directed toward the public health aspects of a community. Another was a graduate course that focused on emergency evacuation measures that become necessary in the event of disasters. Dr. Johnson's proactive approach to instruction and activities that support it have enabled him to reach an outstanding level of effectiveness in teaching that is to be lauded."

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