April 19, 2010

Westerman-Jones to receive award from SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Carol Westerman-Jones is the 2010 Administrative/Professional Excellence Through Commitment Award recipient at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Chancellor Samuel Goldman will host Westerman-Jones and other honorees, including faculty, staff and graduates, at the Excellence Through Commitment Awards dinner on Tuesday, April 20. The dinner is in the Student Center.

Westerman-Jones will receive a certificate recognizing her contribution to the University, and a marked reserve parking space on campus for one year.

As the academic adviser for the Department of Cinema & Photography, Westerman-Jones coordinates advising appointments and registration activities for approximately 300 students, according to her biography. Included in her many duties, Westerman-Jones assists in the development of curricula and department policy with regard to student requirements

Westerman-Jones, who lives in rural Carbondale, began her University service in November 1993 as an admissions and records officer with academic support programs. She went to the unit’s new student admission services in July 1995. She became the cinema and photography department adviser in December 1997.

Westerman-Jones earned a master’s degree in cinema and photography in August 1997, and a bachelor’s degree in art in May 1992, both from SIUC.

Dru E. Vratil, an associate professor in cinema and photography, wrote in her nominating letter that Westerman-Jones’ “total commitment to the University, its faculty and students make her an A/P staff member to be emulated.” Westerman-Jones came to the department after graduating from the cinema and photography program “and she has a strong bond with the department and its success and growth.”

“Her experiences in the department as an undergraduate and graduate student have given her a first-hand knowledge of the programs that she readily shares with students she advises,” Vratil wrote.

From meeting with prospective students and their parents during open house events to coordinating a photography competition for high school students, Westerman-Jones’ impact on students is “immediate and ongoing,” Vratil wrote.

“As the sole advisor for our department, she is the person who knows the students from the day they first begin to take classes through their graduation day,” Vratil wrote. “And she knows them well. She takes a personal interest in every student she advises; I’m constantly amazed at how easily she can recall any student I ask her about. They are not just names to her; they are individuals each with their own strengths, dreams and sometimes problems.”

Andrea L. White, who graduated from SIUC in 2008, is one of four students who wrote of Westerman-Jones’ assistance, caring, compassion, positive attitude, and organization and commitment.

White wrote of Westerman-Jones’ efforts to enable her to be a three-degree graduate in cinematography, history and theater in a five-year period. While she had great professors and mentors at SIUC, Westerman-Jones “was the one who brought everything together,” White wrote.

“She was the invisible deck hand backstage at the play that united the scenery, yet watched the actors take a bow to the Standing O,” White wrote. “She was the production assistant on set that ran around helping every aspect of the film, yet the directors and actors took the limelight and the magazine covers. She was the guidance that put everything in perspective and combined my skills and knowledge in a meaningful way, and more than anymore made sure I not only got the most out of my schooling, but the most out of myself.”

Walter C. Metz, associate professor and department chair, wrote of Westerman-Jones’ tireless work in assisting the successful revision of both the cinema and photography curriculums within Metz’s first months on the job last fall.

“Quite plainly, I would not have been able to accomplish this goal without both Ms. Westerman-Jones’ expertise and also her extremely hard work,” Metz wrote.

“Beyond this excellence as an expert on the curriculum in the department, Carol has an immensely valuable combination of skills; she has a kind heart yet also very good instincts about students,” Metz wrote, explaining that he and Westerman-Jones’ meet regularly to discuss students’ cases.

“I rely heavily on Carol’s advice during these conversations because I admire her skills in assessing the students’ intentions and motives,” Metz wrote. “However, I also appreciate that Carol trusts me to make the correct final decision. I am sure there have been times when my decision was different from the one she would have made. As a supervisor, I think it’s a great testament to Carol’s professionalism that I have never felt any conflict in our work together, often dealing with issues of great importance to our students’ futures.”