Colorado State University - Pueblo honors outstanding faculty and staff at luncheon

Colorado State University - Pueblo honors outstanding faculty and staff at luncheon

PUEBLO – Outstanding faculty and staff leaders at Colorado State University – Rhonda Park UberTamra AxworthyPueblo were honored at a recognition luncheon held on Tuesday, April 19.  Director of Residence Life and Housing Rhonda Park Uber was recognized as the 2011 Outstanding Professional Employee, while Music Department Administrative Assistant Tamra Axworthy was named the Outstanding Classified Employee.Dr. Janet Nichols Dr. Janet Nichols, associate professor of mathematics, earned the top faculty honor for Excellence in Teaching. The First Year Program staff earned the inaugural Outstanding Team Award.


Also honored at the luncheon were recent retirees of the University and individuals who achieved a service milestone for employment during the past academic year from five to 40 years. A moment of silence also was observed for three staff members who died within the last academic year.

Outstanding Professional Staff
Three finalists for the 2011 Outstanding Professional Staff Award were selected from 10 nominees by a campus-wide committee appointed by the President, Provost, Vice President for Finance and Administration and the Dean of Student Affairs. The 2011 Outstanding Professional Staff Award was presented to a woman who was praised for her loyalty, commitment, passion, and inclusiveness at a time of major growth and expansion for the University’s resident population.  And finally, the Rhonda Park Uber, Director of Residence Life and Housing,  has gone above and beyond in her service to students from accompanying students to hospitals when no family was nearby to helping residents find employment if it meant keeping them enrolled.  She gives equal consideration to the many parents who seek reassurances when checking on their children’s welfare. Rhonda’s staff appreciates that she “pursues ways to try to improve and include staff and students in important departmental decisions.”  Even with the increased workload due to the new residence hall complex, she has taken leadership roles in her international professional associations and participated on numerous campus committees and task forces.

Other finalists for the Professional Employee Award were Jeff Miller, web communications manager, and Geri Koncilja, coordinator, Instructional Technology Center.

Outstanding Classified Staff
The Outstanding Classified Employees were selected from among 13 nominees by a panel of community leaders, Dave Feamster, Little Caesar’s Pizza; Karen Vunovich, Beck Dental Care, and Abel Tapia, Colorado Lottery.

The Outstanding Classified Employee for 2011 is Tamra Axworthy, Administrative Assistant in the Music Department who was described as the “glue that holds the music department together.” Nominators praised her organizational skills as well as her welcoming demeanor as the first person a visitor or student to the music department meets. Because of her nurturing nature, she was called a “Den Mother” and a “reassuring and knowledgeable font of information” for new students attempting to navigate entry to the University and music program. She has gone so far as to attend auditions so she can begin building relationships with students before they even get to campus. Besides being a mother of two small children, completing work toward a bachelor’s degree, and serving on various University committees, she serves as a role model by performing as solo vocalist as part of the top choral ensemble.  

The first and second runner-up for the Outstanding Classified Employee Award were Pamela Parrack, Administrative Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science, Health Promotion, and Recreation, and Jim Glenn, IT Professional, Information Technology Services.

Students’ Choice Awards
Representatives from Associated Students’ Government, announced the recipients of the Students’ Choice Awards. ASG accepted nominations by students for a faculty and staff member they felt contributed the most to their experiences at CSU-Pueblo. Student Affairs Program Assistant Gena Alfonso  earned the top staff honors, while Hasan School of Business Associate Professor of Management Michael Wakefield was the students’ choice as the top faculty member.

Faculty Awards
Nominators of Dr. Janet Nichols, associate professor of mathematics, for the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, say he has the ability to make a difficult subject understandable. One chemistry major said Farrer provides numerous sources of information to enable a student to absorb and understand everything from quantum dynamics to thermodynamics and a testing style that enables greater learning of the subject.  For the advanced students he incorporates his research and his expertise in nanotechnology and lasers to engage these learners, while he uses an amazing enthusiasm and easy laugh to put intimidated beginner students at ease and help them overcome their anxiety of the subject.

The 2010 Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activity was presented to two individuals Dr. Chris Messer, assistant professor of sociology, and Dr. Jeff Smith, assistant professor of biology. Messer has produced an astonishing 14 research articles in the area of organizational deviance and sociology in a variety of scholarly journals. He has four published articles pending, and another five that he expects to publish next year. This research has resulted in the discovery of new findings concerning the interrelationships that connect social structure and social process. His courses are directly informed by his research, which have resulted in classrooms filled to
capacity and exceptional evaluations. Most remarkable is that this quality and quantity of scholarship are not from a tenured, veteran full professor, but by a scholar who has held a tenure track appointment for just over two and a half years.

Jeff Smith’s research on rat brain neural cell function as it relates to strokes and Alzheimer’s disease has resulted in half a dozen articles as well as multiple external grant proposal submissions, three of which have been funded. He also received three years of internal faculty development funding. He actively mentors and seeks to raise the bar for graduate students. For example, he recently established a successful journal reading groups to instill a research ethos in the department and to promote discovery, integration, and applications of knowledge. 

The 2011 award for Faculty Excellence in Service was presented to Fawn Amber Montoya,
assistant professor of history/political science/Chicano Studies, for being “a major catalyst for community interaction, student activism, and share governance for the institution.” As one of the most visible and active faculty members in the community, Fawn Amber takes her knowledge and expertise, coupled with her enthusiasm for working with people, to make a difference through efforts such as the annual Ludlow Memorial Labor Fest, which is occurring this week. She promotes civic responsibility through work with community organizations, freedom of expression through service as advisor to Voices of Empowerment and involvement with the Chicano Studies and Women’s Studies programs, and demonstrates inclusiveness and diversity through involvement in Dia De Los Muertos , Hispanic Heritage month activities, and service as co-chair of the Ethnic and Gender Studies Advisory Committee. Through her activities, she serves as a role model to encourage students to become civic minded individuals and to make the connections between the academic world and their world view. As a scholar of Chicano Studies, she also serves as a spokesperson for the University on a variety of issues such as immigration, race and ethnicity, and Hispanic education.

The recipient of the award for Faculty Excellence Award in Advising has demonstrated that the needs of the students are his top priority. Dr. Bea Spade, associate professor of history, for her kind and gentle manner, knowledge of university and major requirements, and strong rapport with all the advisees that pass through her office. For Bea, advising is far more than approving course registration, but she considers how those semester classes will enhance a student’s academic career and life path. She provides excellent post-graduate advice for students seeking a specific occupation or preparation for grad school. She is consistently accessible and welcoming to students and provides continuous support to the History Club and the local chapter of Phi Alpha theta, the national history honorary society.  She is “justifiably renowned among generations of history majors for her careful advising, her unflagging mentoring, and her genuine affection and encouragements at the tough moments in life.”

The following faculty members were honored as the top faculty member in their respective colleges for the 2010-11 academic year:

Dr. JoAnn Crownover, assistant professor of nursing, College of Engineering, Education, and   Professional Studies.
Dr. Gayle Berardi, professor of political science, College of Humanities and Social Sciences;
Dr. Brad Gilbreath, assistant professor of management, Hasan School of Business;
Dr. Chad Kinney, associate professor of chemistry, College of Science and Mathematics;
Julie Fronmueller, assistant professor, Library Services

Outstanding Team Award
The inaugural Outstanding Team Award was presented to the First-Year Program (FYP) staff for the innovative, efficient, enthusiastic, and professional way it has increased both enrollments and student satisfaction through its advising efforts.  The team has consistently exceeded expectations for conversion and retention rates as well as helped to make the Jump Start pilot program successful in its first year. To date, the Jump Start students are being retained
at a higher rate than non-Jump Start students. FYP staff members are self-starters, who have made more than 22,000 contacts with prospective and continuing first-year students through --
cooperation and collaboration with EVERY academic department and campus office. Team members include: Director Derek Lopez, Advisors Britt Anderson, Shaun Boulier, Sandy Brice, Kellie Close, Brett Fugate, David Peraulta, Ivan Valles, Michelle Young, Activity Coordinator Gina Lopez-Ferguson, Office Assistant Jamie Rivera, Advising Coordinator John Sandoval, and
Data Analyst Janet Van Kampen. 

Eight individuals received special notice for the longevity of their service to the University:  Ahmad Ahmadian, 25 years; Judy Baca, John Ryan, David A. Sandoval, and Paul Wallace, 30 years; Dennis Madrid, 35 years, and Ron Dehn and Dan Sullivan, 40 years.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.