University to recognize advisers, researchers, teachers
Vicki L. Kroll
Apr 23, 2008
UT outstanding advisers, researchers and teachers will be honored Friday, April 25, during the academic awards banquet.
Each 2008 award winner will receive a certificate and $1,500.
Recipients of the Outstanding Adviser Awards are:
Dr. Jeanne Funk, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology. She began teaching as an adjunct faculty member in 1983, was named assistant professor in 1996, associate professor in 1998, professor in 2001, and became the first woman named a Distinguished University Professor in 2006. She has been advising students for 25 years.
“Dr. Funk is one of those advisers who takes a down-to-earth, common sense approach to life,” wrote one nominator. “She understands that there are some parts of life that may take priority over education — such as family — and she does not fault students for putting those parts first.” Another noted, “She has been a reliable and accurate source of information regarding my program. With her encouraging words, eagerness to listen and unconditional compassion, I have been able to reach the point I am at now in my program.”
“How do I establish trust in my advising relationships? I have found that caring and empathy are fundamental to the development of trust. Students know instinctively if faculty care about their well-being and success,” Funk said. “In addition to caring and empathy, advisers must be truly effective. Maintaining an effective trust-based advising relationship requires accessibility and accuracy.”
Kim Pollauf, interim director of student services in University College. She joined the staff of the former Community and Technical College as a project coordinator in 1991 and became an adviser in University College in 1992. Pollauf was named coordinator of the PASS Program in University College in 1999, transfer credit and graduation specialist in 2000, and interim director of student services last year.
“Kim Pollauf is the reason I stayed with UT to complete my degree,” wrote one nominator. “I believe that Kim actually cares about me and my future, and I know this feeling is spread among all her students.” Another wrote, “Ever since the first time I sat with her for advising, I felt as if she understood and knew where I was at in life.”
“Academic advisers enable students to understand their interests, talents and preferences and how they relate to academic programs of study and careers available in the wider world,” Pollauf said. “It is so satisfying to know that you have played a small part in helping someone on a journey of self-discovery, growth and possibly the achievement of a dream. How many people are ever lucky enough to get paid for that?”
Recipients of the Outstanding Researcher Awards are:
Dr. Andrew Geers,
associate professor of psychology and director of the doctoral program in experimental psychology. He joined the UT faculty as an assistant professor in 2001 and was promoted to associate professor in 2006. Geers investigates how expectations, motives and emotions are used in the regulation of behavior. Most recently, he has focused his research activities on the psychosocial causes of the placebo effect. This work has received national attention.
“Dr. Geers is a social psychologist who studies the interplay of feelings, cognition and motivation,” wrote a nominator. “There is a growing recognition of the power of placebos in the treatment of both physical and psychological disease. Researchers are attempting to delineate how to harness the power of the placebo effect in order to benefit patients. Dr. Geers’ work has demonstrated that motivation interacts with expectations to determine the strength of the placebo effect.”
He is the principal investigator on four grants, including a multi-year $144,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a project titled “Goal Activation, Expectations and Placebo Analgesia.” Geers has published four book chapters and 25 peer-reviewed empirical articles. Since joining the University, he has given 48 conference presentations.
Dr. Clinton O. Longenecker, Stranahan Professor of Leadership and Organizational Excellence. He returned to his alma mater as an assistant professor in 1984, was named associate professor in 1989, professor in 1994 and received his honorary title in 2001. His applied research addresses business issues in human resources management, leadership and management development, and work force performance and rapid organizational change.
“Dr. Longenecker has been a colleague for 14 years in the Department of Management, and his productive research program has greatly enhanced and strengthened our mission of engagement with fellow academicians, the business community and the students in the college,” wrote a nominator. “His laboratory is the workplace; he helps business leaders compete in the global marketplace. Clint has developed a national and international reputation as an expert in the areas of performance improvement and human resource management, and his research is being widely used in such companies as Harley-Davidson, Eaton Corp., ConAgra, Roadway Express, Dana, General Motors and The Andersons, among others.”
He is the author of more than 120 publications, and has co-authored two books,
Two-Minute Drill: Imperatives for Rapid Organizational Change From America’s Greatest Game (2007) and
Getting Results: Five Absolutes for High Performance (2001), which has been translated into eight languages.
Dr. Carol Stepien, director of the Lake Erie Center and professor of environmental sciences. Her research focuses on applying genetic DNA markers for native fishes of the Great Lakes and using genetic data to address the problem of invasive species in the Great Lakes. She also is the principal investigator on a project, “Graduate Teaching Fellows in High School STEM Education: An Environmental Science Learning Community at the Land-Lake Ecosystem Interface,” which received a $2.4 million National Science Foundation grant.
“This program will build an environmental science learning community by linking graduate student watershed research projects with an existing high school watershed watch program,” a nominator wrote of the NSF-funded project. “By building science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, graduate fellows, teachers and high school students gain hands-on experience in the role of urban and agricultural influences on watersheds in the history, social development and future vitality of the Great Lakes region.”
Since joining UT, Stepien has received some $3.9 million for four research projects, one educational research program and one planning grant for the Lake Erie Center. She also worked to bring the 2009 annual meeting of the International Association for Great Lakes Research to the University.
Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Awards are:
Dr. Brian Ashburner, associate professor of biological sciences. He came to UT in 2001 as an assistant professor and was named associate professor in 2006.
“His enthusiasm for biology has been contagious. He encourages students to get the most out of their education, both inside and outside the classroom,” one nominator wrote. “I am always amazed that he can remember as many names as he does, and he never hesitates to personally greet a student with a smile. Thirty years from now I know I will continue to think of the impact Dr. Ashburner had on my education and experience at UT.” Another wrote, “He is a very approachable faculty member, and that’s why so many students like him. He is very down-to-earth.”
“Although my research is important to me, my real passion is in teaching and working with undergraduates,” Ashburner said. “I strive to involve the students in the learning process as much as possible by fostering an interactive classroom where I can discuss a topic with the students rather than giving them a straight lecture. This allows me to draw the answers out from the students rather than simply reciting memorized answers. I believe that when students are involved in the learning process in the classroom they learn the material better.”
Dr. Karen Bjorkman, professor and associate chair of physics and astronomy. She joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1996, was promoted to associate professor in 2000, and professor in 2003.
“Karen is a brilliant astronomer. But what’s exciting is that she can share that with her students as an extraordinary teacher,” wrote one nominator. “She makes a difficult concept manageable, and manages to do it with intelligence, humor and class.” Another noted, “She takes her role of teacher as seriously as her role of researcher. Also, she has an uncanny knack for making the most difficult astrophysics problem seem completely understandable.”
“I consider teaching to be a very important part of my mission as a professor, and I believe that teaching and learning occur both inside and outside the classroom,” Bjorkman said. “I believe that part of the benefit of having active research faculty teaching courses is that we can bring the excitement of new discoveries and ongoing scientific inquiry into the classroom, at all levels, on a personal basis, and I make an effort to do this in my classes. I like to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce my students to the fun of science and the wonder of learning amazing things about the universe in which we live.”
Dr. Christina Fitzgerald, assistant professor of English. She started teaching at the University in 2003.
“Dr. Fitzgerald’s knowledge of the material that she teaches is outstanding. She is informative, yet she provokes students to question her opinion and that of others,” one nominator wrote. Another wrote, “Her classes are dizzyingly full of information but presented in such a way that they are straightforward and clear. Her assignments are designed to get the most out of a critically thinking student. Aside from that, she is funny and entertaining, and manages to pull in Monty Python quotations apropos to the academic setting.”
“My favorite kind of positive student evaluation comment, one that I frequently receive, is the kind that begins ‘I didn’t think I’d like this course, but…’ Students quickly learn from my courses on medieval literature and language that pleasure, discovery, connection and understanding can take place in the most unexpected of subject matters,” Fitzgerald said. “The study of the past also helps to foster a flexible and enlarged worldview and a truly global perspective, for it takes students outside of themselves and their world, and requires them to encounter and grapple with lives and ideas unlike their own. That enlarging of vision and understanding is the core theme of all of my classes and my teaching philosophy.”
Joseph Slater, John Stoepler Professor of Law and Values. He joined the College of Law faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 2003, professor in 2005 and named to the honorary title in 2008.
“Not only is Professor Slater an incredible professor who continues to engage students in class, but he takes the time to assist in extracurricular activities,” wrote a nominator. “For the past two years, I have been blessed to have Professor Slater as an adviser for the Employment Moot Court team. He has taken countless hours out of his free time to attend practices and even accompanied the students to a competition in New York.” Another wrote, “Slater is always available for outside class consultation. He is highly respected by both his colleagues and the students.”
“For me, teaching works best when it is a conversation,” Slater said. “The teacher must balance two different roles: being a respectful participant in the conversation, and steering and directing the conversation in certain directions. This works best when the professor uses his or her expertise not only to answer questions, but also to stimulate students to think of new questions and possible answers. I've been lucky in that I have had a wonderful group of students at the law school.”