April 15, 2005

SIUC honors 5 for commitment to excellence

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor Karen M. Clayton, office systems specialist II, College of Liberal Arts/School of Music advisement offices; Jianxin Feng, graduate student, chemistry and biochemistry; Reuben A. Heine, graduate student, environmental resources and policy program; Donna M. Margolis, director of placement, College of Business and Administration; and Sachiko Tankei, graduate student, speech communication, for superior achievement in this year’s “Excellence Through Commitment Awards Program.”

These prizes reward ongoing contributions by tenured and term faculty, staff and graduate assistants throughout the University and reflect the University’s aim of encouraging outstanding work, one of the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler will host a dinner to honor all award recipients at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 21.

Here’s a brief look at these winners.

• Clayton, whose outstanding Civil Service teaching support award totals $3,000, splits her time between undergraduate advisement in the liberal arts college and the School of Music. In the college, she has taught students to use the computer-based information system, has solved registration problems and acts as a liaison between students and faculty. In the music school, she guides students to specific classes that meet their needs and develop their strengths, keeps on top of files, graduation checklists and class scheduling. In her free time, she serves as accompanist and musical coach for music students.

Clayton graduated from Steeleville High School in 1962, earned a bachelor’s degree from SIUC in 1967 and a master’s from SIU in Edwardsville in 1973. She began working at SIUC in 1972.

• Feng, whose outstanding graduate student researcher award totals $1,000, came to SIUC in 2000 to work on a doctorate. His research interests, pursued in the laboratory of Associate Professor Daniel J. Dyer, include polymer synthesis, surface initiated polymerization, organic thin films, self-assembled monolayers, polymer brushes and responsive polymer films.

Feng received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tianjin University in 1992 and in 1995, respectively. After graduation, he joined the faculty of the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at Tianjin University as an assistant professor.

• Heine, whose outstanding graduate student researcher award totals $1,000, is working on doctoral dissertation titled “Modeling Incision of Tributaries from Missouri River Degradation”

under the supervision of geographer Christopher L. Lant and geologist Nicholas M. Pinter. He has studied and published in the areas of human modifications to large-river systems, flood-hazard analysis and accurate stream mapping.

Heine earned his bachelor’s in 1998 from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., and his master’s in 2001 from SIUC.

• Margolis, whose outstanding Administrative/Professional teaching support award totals $3,000, set up and runs the business college’s first placement center, which served more than 1,700 students in the last two years. She speaks to classes, coaches students, develops relationships with firms and recruiters, manages the intern and extern programs and oversees a 100-level business class. She also plans, organizes and coordinates Accounting Career Day for the School of Accountancy, which draws roughly 20 employers and 120 students each year.

Margolis is a two-degree graduate of SIUC, earning both a bachelor’s in 1983 and a master’s in 1984 from the business college. She has worked for the University since 2000.

• Tankei, a doctoral student whose outstanding graduate teaching assistant award totals $1,000, teaches in both her home department, where she handles the freshman introductory course and a junior-level course in communication across culture, and in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, where she teaches Japanese. Colleagues praise her as both careful and challenging, citing an innovative approach to learning that draws on not only new technologies and Web-based supplements but on literatures, films and art forms from many cultural perspectives.

Tankei is a two-degree graduate of Aichi University in Aichi, Japan, earning her bachelor’s in 1994 and her master’s in 1996. She also has a master’s from SIUC, earned in 2000.