PUEBLO – Outstanding faculty and staff leaders at Colorado State University – Pueblo were honored at a recognition luncheon held on Monday, April 21. Program Associate in Teacher Education Karen Micheli was recognized as the 2014 Outstanding Professional Employee, while Teacher Education Administrative Assistant Barb Ramirez was named the Outstanding Classified Employee. Janet Barnett, professor of mathematics, earned the top faculty honor for Faculty Excellence in Teaching. Information Support Services Team earned the 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 45 years. A moment of silence also was observed for staff members who died within the last academic year. Doug Knight honored by the University Retirees Association of Pueblo for his efforts on behalf of the organization.
Outstanding Professional Staff
Three finalists for the 2014 Outstanding Professional Staff Award were selected from a pool of nominees by a campus-wide committee appointed by the President. The 2014 Outstanding Professional Staff Award was presented to Karen Micheli, program associate in Teacher Education. Micheli was nominated by the faculty and staff of the teacher Education Program for her efforts to facilitate the development of the program’s assessment system, for her support of the department’s mission to prepare future teachers, and for her ongoing and abiding assistance to University students. Her leadership in developing the department’s web-based portfolio system is a model for education programs across the country and a major reason why the program won the national award for Self Study back in 2011. Without her diligence and her ability to anticipate the needs of faculty and the program’s 350-500 students, the program would not be successful at attaining or maintaining national accreditation and ensuring student success.
She also has brought her yoga skills to the ThunderWolves Football Team and teaches at the Student Recreation Center. While not a part of her Teacher Education duties, it is another example of her commitment to service the University and her belief that all employees should be active in presenting a positive face to the University and Pueblo community. Other finalists for the Professional Employee Award were Niki Whitaker, marketing and communications specialist in External Affairs and Lou Minatta, graduation evaluator in Records.
Outstanding Classified Staff
The Outstanding Classified Employees were selected from among 10 nominees by a panel of community leaders: Dave Feamster, owner, Little Caesar’s Pizza; Patricia Gonzales, retired assistant superintendent of human resources, Pueblo City Schools, and Allen Gross, president of GPS Source.
The Outstanding Classified Employee for 2014 was presented to Barbara Ramirez, administrative assistant in the Teacher Education Program, for her leadership, devotion, wisdom, and caring to students and colleagues in the department. Ramirez has worked to alleviate the financial difficulties of teacher education students who must spend a full semester as full-time teachers in K-12 classrooms, meaning they have to curb employment in order to complete this portion of their degree. She developed and directs an AmeriCorps program that gives the students a stipend toward tuition or loans as volunteers during that time, allowing them to cut back on employment and increase student success during a very demanding semester. She also is responsible for administration of a federal TEACH grant, which provides financial awards to seniors and graduate students preparing to teach in high need teaching areas. These efforts contribute to the recruitment and retention of students into the University’s M.Ed. in Teacher Education.
The first and second runner-up for the Outstanding Classified Employee Award were Irene Macias, program assistant in Student Academic Services, and Lisa Montoya-Vigil, also an administrative assistant in Student Academic 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 Engagement and Leadership Director Patty Witkowsky earned the top staff honors, while Julie Armstrong, Mass Communications and Center for New Media, was the students’ choice as the top faculty member.
Nominators of Professor of Mathematics Janet Barnett for the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching say she sets the standards for effective teaching and engagement of students in the mathematical discipline. Students flock to Barnett’s classes, with enrollments often exceeding the caps and she does not disappoint, receiving student evaluations that are consistently high and glowing. One student commented, “I love being challenged to think in new ways, and this course was an entire semester of “EUREKA” moments. Barnett knows what to do in the classroom setting to engage students to persevere to learn challenging materials and to instill enthusiasm for scholarship among the student body.
Two faculty members, Margie Massey, associate professor, Teacher Education, and Leticia Steffen, associate professor, Mass Communications and Center for New Media, received Faculty Excellence Awards in Service.
Nominators say Steffen has been the catalyst who has transformed a service activity into something that has changed the University for the better. General Education no longer is an afterthought but front as center because of her work as chair and co-chair of the General Education Board over the past few years. Professionally, she is active on the national education committee of the Society for Professional Journalists with service to SPJ dating back to 2005. Locally, she has an impact through work with the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and as a Girl Scout Leader. Similarly, Massey earns the honor due to service to the University, to teacher education, and to the community. In addition serving as co-chair of the faculty senate, her list of elected and appointed roles on campus committees is staggering from search committees and the University budget Board to faculty compensation committees and numerous task forces. The University has benefitted by her expertise in instructional technology, continually sharing her own knowledge and expertise with faculty and students alike. She has involved teacher education students in service learning opportunities like book drives and technology-based tutoring that benefit at-risk students in area middle and high schools.
The 2014 award for Faculty Excellence in Scholarship/Creative Activity was presented to Darren Funk-Neubauer, associate professor of mathematics, who has maintained an excellent record of scholarship since he arrived at CSU-Pueblo in Fall of 2007. He was described as the most prolific scholar in the department in terms of quantity as well as impact, focusing on linear algebra problems occurring in Lie groups. The greatest compliment a young researcher can receive is having his works cited by others in the field, which places value on the significance his findings are having on the mathematical community. As evidence of this impact, two universities offered to help fund his sabbatical for continued research if recent budget cuts were to threaten that opportunity.
The award for Faculty Excellence in Advising/Mentoring was presented to Fawn Amber Montoya, associate professor/program coordinator in Chicano Studies, who takes an interest in students’ personal life as well as their academic success. She has helped revive and empower the M.E.Ch.A student group and individually coaches students on how to lead democratically, be a better leader, apply for grants, hold meetings, supervise volunteers, and reach out and involve the community. She also guides students with their research and academic presentations to professional conferences. One nominator noted that he could not recall a time when he stopped by her office and they were not interrupted by one or more students seeking assistance. Her mentoring and advising extends beyond the student body to the faculty ranks, where she takes younger faculty members under wing, often inquiring about teaching tactics and professional advancement.
The following faculty members were honored as the top faculty member(s) in their respective colleges for the 2013-14 academic year:
College of Education, Engineering, and Professionals Studies
Nebojsa Jaksic, Professor, Engineering
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Zahari Metchkov, Assistant Professor, Music
Hasan School of Business
Seong-Jong Joo, Associate Professor, Management
College of Science and Mathematics
Janet Nichols, Associate Professor, Mathematics
Kevin Seeber, Assistant Professor, Library Services
Outstanding Team Award
The Outstanding Team Award was presented to the Information Support Services Team. Team members include David Bartolo, Bruce Meritt, Stephen Hodge, Jennifer Torres, and Lallo Vigil. This team received eight separate nominations for going above and beyond in projects with units across campus. Laura Barela in the Veteran Affairs Office lauded their efforts during a compliance audit review and creating a better way to track student success and improving the auditing and reporting processes. The team helped both the Records Office and Human Resources to move processes from paper to electronic, automated a registration process that Continuing Education has with third-party companies which reduced manual labor by about 20 hours a week as well as reducing natural data errors. Graduation Evaluators said their office functions would be nearly impossible without the numerous reports generated by this team. In general, the team was described as demonstrating “cooperativeness, collaboration, and open communication at all times.”
Eight individuals received special notice for the longevity of their service to the University: Veronica Chavez, Larry Frazier, Shirley Gutierrez, Deon Murray, Huseyin Sarper, and Abhay Shah, for 25 years; Sociology/Anthropology Professor Dan Forsyth for 30 years; and Biology Professor Scott Herrmann for 45 years.