April 02, 2008

Faculty members honored for superior teaching

by K.C. Jaehnig

Lilly Boruszowski

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Eight faculty members from Southern Illinois University Carbondale have won top marks from their colleges for superior teaching, while three others have been cited for educational achievement outside a college. They will be honored at the University's "Excellence Through Commitment" awards dinner April 22 at the Student Center.

SIUC college deans named Lilly A. Boruszkowski (College of Mass Communication and Media Arts), Bidyut Gupta (College of Science), J. Kent Hsiao (College of Engineering), Jean C. Mangun (College of Agricultural Sciences), Michael D. Michalisin (College of Business and Administration), Stacia L. Robertson (College of Education and Human Services), David E. Sutton (College of Liberal Arts) and Stewart P. Wessel (College of Applied Sciences and Arts) as their No. 1 educators. Amy C. Arai, Stephanie J. Graves and Wenona Y. Whitfield received kudos as the year's top faculty member in the School of Medicine, Library Affairs and the School of Law respectively.

Each will receive $3,000 outright plus a matching amount through the Office of the Provost to support professional activities during the next fiscal year. The Alumni Association also will present each teacher with a watch.

Boruszkowski, associate professor in the Department of Cinema and Photography, has taught both undergraduate and graduate students in her 25 years at SIUC. In that time, she has taught all her department's core production classes, has helped the department revise its curriculum and has developed new courses, including one at the graduate level on autobiography and biography and an undergraduate course on sound recording, design and editing.

In addition, Boruszkowski has worked with civil engineering faculty to develop materials for public school children on environmental and water resources engineering. She also has produced an educational video on cameras and lenses that continues to sell extremely well.

Boruszkowski is a two-degree graduate of Northwestern University, earning her bachelor's in 1976 and her master's in 1980.

Gupta, professor in the Department of Computer Science and director of its graduate program, has developed both undergraduate and graduate courses, striving to impart both basic information and innovative trends and encouraging students to think independently. While rapidly changing material and varying levels of student preparation make teaching in this field a challenge, he works to ensure that all understand the information before proceeding.

He takes a personal interest in graduate students, helping them register for appropriate courses, arranging for assistantships, monitoring their academic progress and working with those on probation to find solutions for their problems.

Gupta is a two-degree graduate of the University of Calcutta, earning his master's in 1978 and his doctorate in 1986.

Hsiao, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, regularly receives top marks in evaluations by students from both his department and the college as a whole and has won teaching awards both at the department and college level.

Since coming to the University in 2001, Hsiao has taught 10 different courses, including one he designed and two he modified. He spends a lot of time with students outside the classroom, teaching review classes and independent study courses and serving as a mentor to entering freshmen. He also helped two of his students put together the research proposals that won them fellowships from the Department of Homeland Security.

Hsiao is a two-degree graduate of Brigham Young University, earning his bachelor's in 1976 and his master's in 1977. He completed his doctorate in 2000 at the University of Utah.

Mangun, associate professor in the Department of Forestry, has, with a colleague, developed and runs an environmental awareness program that pairs SIUC forestry students with minority and female high school students in deep Southern Illinois. Both groups learn, both groups win.

Her teaching evaluations, student comments and peer reviews all attest to her classroom excellence. In addition, she ranks as one of the college's best advisers, beginning with her efforts to recruit potential students, through her guidance in academics, her support for extracurricular activities and ending with her assistance in looking for jobs.

Mangun earned her bachelor's degree in 1972 from Columbia University. She is a two-degree graduate of Purdue University, earning her master's in 1985 and her doctorate in 1991.

Michalisin, associate professor in the Department of Management brings professional business and consulting experience, innovative teaching techniques and knowledge of the latest developments in strategic management to the classroom.

Known for up-to-date, relevant course material, Michalisin is highly regarded by students at all levels; his teaching evaluations consistently rank him as good to excellent. He has won recognition for his teaching in seven of the last 11 years. He also serves as a mentor for both current and former students.

Michalisin earned his bachelor's degree in 1985 from The Pennsylvania State University, his master's of business administration in 1992 from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and his doctorate in 1996 from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He is also a certified public accountant.

Robertson, assistant professor in the Rehabilitation Institute, teaches both undergraduate and graduate students and excels at blending different ethnic and cultural backgrounds into a welcoming whole. She is known for her patience, approachability, interest and ability to develop critical thinking skills.

Course evaluations and student letters consistently rate Robertson highly, both as a teacher and as a role model, and she plays an active role in mentoring graduate students, especially during their fieldwork. The institute honored her last year as its teacher of the year.

Robertson earned her bachelor's degree in 1988 from Illinois State University, her master's in 1995 from the University of Illinois and her doctorate in 2003 from The Pennsylvania State University.

Sutton, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, consistently has received his department's highest student rankings, course after course, semester after semester, from undergraduate and graduate students, majors and non-majors. Students report that he has inspired them, touched their lives and transformed how they see the world.

In teaching, Sutton uses the Socratic style of discussion; out-of-class projects focus on the lives of other students, community residents and their own families; popular movies; novels by authors from other cultures; and objects, such as food. (He hosts a Friday morning bagel brunch in his office for graduate students and faculty). He is the only anthropology faculty member to develop an online course and an honors course.

Sutton is a three-degree graduate of the University of Chicago, earning his bachelor's degree in 1985, his master's in 1987 and his doctorate in 1995.

Wessel, associate professor in the School of Architecture, has twice won teaching honors from his unit. His peers and both current and former students praise his performance. A skillful motivator, he helps them develop into the best they can become, both within the classroom and in the independent studies and research assistantships for which he serves as mentor.

Wessel developed an experimental furniture design studio that he continues to teach. A nationally recognized designer himself, he brings special knowledge to his supervision of students as they design and build their own prize-winning pieces.

Wessel earned his bachelor's degree in 1983 from SIUC and his master of fine arts degree in 1992 from the University of North Texas.

Arai, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, coordinates the teaching of material related to the neuro-muscular system to second-year students. She has developed a Web-based site for tutors in this program, which includes information about scheduling and learning objectives, content material and PowerPoint slides.

Arai also developed online versions of the medical school's problem-based learning modules, which teach students by drawing upon the records of real-life patients. Now used with both first- and second-year students, the e-modules make updating faster, more convenient and less prone to error. They also are more popular with students than their paper counterparts.

Arai is a three-degree graduate of Japan's Chiba University, earning her bachelor's in 1982, her master's in 1984 and her doctorate in 1987.

Graves, assistant professor in the library's humanities section, led the team that brought in Meebo, a Web site that lets librarians and users of the major instant messaging systems exchange messages with each other. This free, easy-to-use system has led to a huge increase in the number of questions from library patrons.

To track those questions, Graves worked with the library's computer programmers to develop an easy-to-use database. She is now adapting that database to track all reference questions the library receives. Graves also helped design the look and content of the portion of the library's Web site dealing with databases and article searches.

Graves earned her bachelor's degree in 1999 from Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., and her master's in 2004 from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Whitfield, associate professor and the law school's former associate dean for academic affairs, is known for teaching students to read between the lines, think on their feet, anticipate questions, look at situations from all angles and consider the ethical implications of their own actions. Using the Socratic method, whereby the instructor asks questions but gives no answers, she fosters in them the development of analytical thinking.

Students describe Whitfield as demanding but also as stimulating, provocative and articulate with excellent classroom "presence" and a genuine concern for students and society as a whole.

Whitfield earned her bachelor's degree in 1970 from Illinois Wesleyan University and her law degree in 1977 from SIUC.

Kent Hsiao Jean Mangun Michael Michalisin Stacie Robertson

David Sutton Stewart Wessel Arai Stephanie Graves Whitfield