April 22, 2013

Six to receive Faculty-Staff Excellence Awards

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor faculty and staff for superior scholarship, teaching and service.

Chancellor Rita Cheng will recognize the recipients at a “Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards” reception at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors in Morris Library.  A reception will follow in the library’s first-floor rotunda.

“We are honoring these six individuals for the many contributions they make to students, the University, our communities, and their professions,” Cheng said. “Each of our award-winners is an inspiration to the SIU community.”

The 2013 Faculty and Staff Excellence Award recipients are Om Prakash Agrawal  (Scholar Excellence Award), Anne Fletcher (Teaching Excellence Award), Lucian E. Dervan (Early Career Faculty Excellence Award), Philip Reed and Rosemary E. Simmons (Staff Excellence Awards), and Elizabeth W. Freeburg (Women of Distinction Excellence Award).

Here are profiles of the honorees.

Scholar Excellence Award

The award “recognizes and promotes outstanding research and creative endeavors,” and is given only to those “who have made outstanding contributions to their discipline” and who are “widely recognized by other scholars in the field.”

Om Prakash Agrawal, a professor in the mechanical engineering and energy processes department in the College of Engineering, is an “internationally recognized eminent scholar” in the areas of flexible multibody dynamics, and fractional derivatives and their application to dynamic systems, writes Kambiz Farhang, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Energy and Energy Processes.  Farhang describes Agrawal’s development in automated formulations as “a pioneering work with transformative impact in many engineering disciplines,” including computer-aided design of mechanical systems, aerospace, robotics and mechanisms.  And his research over the last 12 years in the area of fractional derivatives “has been monumental and will continue to be cited for years and perhaps centuries,” Farhang writes. He notes that almost all books published recently involving fractional calculus cited Agrawal’s work.

Agrawal joined SIU Carbondale in 1985, and among his many honors is the College-Level Outstanding Scholar in 2007.  His scholarly work includes more than 70 archival journal papers, along with numerous conference proceeding papers and book chapters.  He has also been involved with more than $1.4 million in funded research projects. Frequently invited to deliver keynote speeches, Agrawal was the guest of honor at the National Workshop on Applications of Fractional Calculus in Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in March 2012.

Agrawal will receive the permanent title of Distinguished Scholar, a certificate, $2,500 award and $1,000 other-than-salaries award.

Agrawal earned his bachelor’s degree from Birla Institute of Technology in India in 1978; a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Science in 1980, and his doctorate from the University of Illinois Chicago in 1984.  All of his degrees are in mechanical engineering.

Teaching Excellence Award

The award recognizes faculty who demonstrate outstanding teaching, high-quality classroom performance, innovation, and “commitment to student learning outcomes and inclusive excellence in education.”

Anne Fletcher, a professor in the Department of Theater, has a gift “to blend theory with practice and classroom with stage that has made her so indispensable to our students’ education …” writes Ronald Naversen, professor of scenic design and graduate studies director in the Department of Theater, who nominated Fletcher for the award.

Fletcher teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in theater history, American theater history, contemporary developments, theory and criticism, and dramaturgy.  She also supervises and mentors graduate teaching assistants, serves as a chair or member on thesis and dissertation committees, and arranged more than 20 panels and presentations at regional and national conferences on theater teaching methods and practice.

Naversen writes that Fletcher assists each graduate teaching assistant before they step into a classroom with active learning exercises that students apply to various course subjects. Fletcher also implemented a dramaturgy program at SIU Carbondale and provides a “nurturing atmosphere for the undergraduates while still making the course challenging for graduate students.”  Fletcher has also earned national prominence for “pioneering work” in theater teaching methods and practice.  Community groups also seek Fletcher’s teaching expertise.

Fletcher is author or co-author of two books and five textbooks.  She is co-authoring a textbook that will highlight her experiences in “teaching to the season” practices at SIU Carbondale,

Fletcher writes she is a proponent of “active, experiential learning.”

“Active learning is not an over-simplification of content delivery but, rather a self-conscious and reflexive effort to help students acquire important skills and retain important principles,” she states.

Fletcher began as an assistant professor in 2001 before becoming associate professor in 2007 and a professor in 2012.  She earned the Outstanding Faculty Member Teaching in the University CORE Curriculum Award in 2009.  Prior to coming to SIU Carbondale, Fletcher taught at Winthrop University in South Carolina.

Fletcher will receive the permanent title of Distinguished Teacher, a certificate, $2,500 award, and $1,000 other-than-salaries award.

Fletcher earned her bachelor’s degree in drama from Vassar College in 1975; a master’s in theatre education from Emerson College in 1980, and a doctorate in theatre history from Tufts University in 1992.

Early Career Faculty Excellence Award

The award recognizes faculty within their first five years at SIU Carbondale for “significant contributions throughout the year” to their discipline or the University community.  The award recognizes excellence in scholarship, teaching, and other professional activities.

Lucian E. Dervan, an assistant professor in the SIU School of Law, earns praise from colleagues for his scholarly and teaching excellence since coming to SIU Carbondale in 2009.  Dervan teaches courses on topics including international criminal law, global legalization and comparative law, sentencing law and white collar crime.

Mark F. Schultz, associate professor and the law school’s director of faculty development, praises Dervan’s work -- in terms of publishing more than one dozen papers in just over three years at SIU Carbondale; involving students in his research and service projects, and involvement in creating a “Global Legalization” class.  The class, which Schultz writes is unique in legal education, allows students to learn about a selected foreign country’s culture, history and legal system, and students then visit the country for about a week.  Dervan also organizes and runs a scholarly workshop for pre-tenure faculty and his scholarly work on plea bargaining, which includes testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Crime subcommittee, carries “real-world impact,” Schultz writes.

Dervan earned the law school’s Outstanding Scholar of the Year Award in 2012.

“He is a rare talent with a tremendous work ethic,” Schultz writes.  “He has already accumulated a record that would be the envy of most senior scholars.”

Dervan will receive a certificate, $2,500 award, and $1,000 other-than-salaries award.

Prior to joining the SIU School of Law, Dervan spent several years in private practice, including as a member of the King & Spalding Special Matters and Government Investigations team.  In the fall 2012 semester, Dervan was a visiting assistant professor of law at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Dervan earned his law degree from Emory University School of Law in 2002, and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Davidson College in 1998.

Women of Distinction Excellence Award

The Women of Distinction Award is given to a faculty, administrative/professional or civil service staff member, and recognizes employees who demonstrate “sustained commitment to women and/or issues of diversity through demonstrated leadership, vision, or actions” in their profession, expertise, or service to the University community.

Elizabeth W. Freeburg, professor and chair in the Department of Workforce Education and Development in the College of Education and Human Services, is praised by colleagues for mentoring faculty and staff, enhancing graduate students’ scholarship and research skills, and leadership that “truly reflects a sustained commitment to women and diversity issues and in service to the University community,” writes Marcia Anderson, professor emerita and former graduate program director.

With more than 21 years experience in the department, Freeburg became department chair in June 2009; prior to that she was graduate program director.  She began as a graduate research assistant in January 1992, and was adjunct faculty from 1992 to 1999 before becoming a visiting assistant professor and site program coordinator for the off-campus degree program at Scott Air Force Base.  The department has an enrollment of more than 700 undergraduate through doctoral students, and includes classes in 14 off-campus locations across the country.

Freeburg has received nearly $650,000 in external and internal grants.  She has more than 40 referred papers and presentations and is the co-author of four books.  Anderson notes that in addition to her responsibilities as department chair, Freeburg is active since her appointment as chair, teaching online courses, chairing master’s and doctoral student committees, writing a textbook, nine articles published in research journals and given seven research presentations.

Barbara Hagler, an associate professor in the department, writes that Freeburg is an excellent motivator and leader who “inspires faculty and staff, as well as students, to work hard and reach their goals.”  Jane Workman, professor emerita in fashion design and merchandising, writes Freeburg’s research consistently addresses issues related to women, dealing with gender roles, including teacher and student dress codes, perceptions of models in advertisements, the Americans with Disability Act, and at-risk youth employment.

Freeburg earned her doctorate in workforce education and development from SIU Carbondale, a master’s degree in clothing, textiles, and related arts from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), and a bachelor’s degree in art from Agnes Scott College.

Freeburg receives a certificate, $1,250 award and a $1,000 professional development award.

Staff Excellence Award

The award recognizes an administrative professional and/or civil service staff member for “significant contributions” to further the University’s mission.  That includes demonstrating “excellence in overall work performance, performing duties at a level above and beyond normal job requirements,” contributing in ways that improve students’ experiences at the University, and “exemplifies professionalism and serves as a positive role model for faculty, staff, and students.”

Rosemary E. Simmons, director of the SIU Counseling Center, “embodies the culture she has created of excellence, acceptance and integrity,” writes Jaime Clark, the Center’s assistant director and director of training.  Among Simmons’ numerous qualities is she is “passionate about student welfare, promotes inclusive excellence” and is “tireless in striving for an equitable campus environment,” Clark states.

Simmons has more than 25 years experience at the Counseling Center in a number of capacities, including serving as director since 2006.  Prior to coming to SIU Carbondale, Simmons’ experience included working as a crisis counselor for the Jackson County Mental Health Center, a sexual assault crisis counselor at the Women’s Center, and victim’s advocate with SIU Carbondale’s Women’s Services.  She earned the University’s Administrative/Professional Women of Distinction Award presented by University Women’s Professional Advancement in 2004.

In addition to overseeing a staff that includes eight doctorate-level psychologists, two licensed clinical social workers, six pre-doctoral interns, 13 practicum students and three civil service professionals, Simmons does individual and group therapy, supervises graduate students, serves on numerous campus committees and presents workshops and community intervention projects.  Clark writes Simmons created programs, such as a full Dialectical Behavioral Therapy model, which differentiates “SIU from other excellent counseling centers across the country,” and “specializes in treatment of trauma, student supervision, diversity and social justice programming, crisis intervention and threat assessment.”

Frank Kosmicki, chief psychologist at the Counseling Center, writes Simmons is frequently a first-responder during crises or emergencies, meeting with students, staff, faculty and parents at the counseling center, residence halls, the hospital, or wherever needed.   Even with the responsibilities and working long hours, Simmons’ “optimism and positive attitude are infectious, and much of the character of the Counseling Center can be attributed to her personality,” Kosmicki writes.

Several nomination letters point to her commitment to students.  Todd D. Sigler, director of the Department of Public Safety, points to the respect that police officers have for Simmons, and states she “represents all of the qualities we expect from dedicated, professional, compassionate and student-focused professionals who do so much for the students on this campus every day.”

A two-degree graduate of SIU Carbondale, Simmons earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling psychology in 1985 and 1990, respectively.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wartburg College in 1982.

Philip Reed, or “Chef Phil,” the chef production manager for residence hall dining with University Housing, makes the “culinary experience of SIU students a truly great experience.”  But that is just one of his attributes, writes Darrell Porter, a housing maintenance inspector.

Working for University Housing since 1992, Reed works at Trueblood Hall, the largest dining hall on campus. He is responsible for approximately 6,000 meals per week to an average of 900 students each night, and oversees more than 30 kitchen staff, and more than 100 students. Known for his monthly dining hall theme meals, Reed earned a national award in 2010 from the National Association of College and University Food Services for his theme meal, “A Night in New Orleans.”

Debra J. Nesbitt, a food production manager, also writes that Reed, through research and trial, “came up with menu adaptations that allowed a variety of choices for students who thought Celiac Disease would limit forever.”

“His due diligence in formulating recipes, preparation methods, staging areas, and staff training has made a significant impact on our ability to recruit students with allergy and intolerant conditions,” she writes.  She also notes Reed was instrumental in determining menus and food production in the aftermath of the May 8, 2009, wind storm that occurred in the midst of spring semester finals and anticipated commencement ceremonies.  She writes that the staff served lunch to 3,500 patrons daily May 8-12, 2009.

Reed also provides hands-on training for students in the University’s Food and Nutrition program; is involved with the University’s Iron Chef competitions, and numerous community outreach programs.  That includes raising donations for a homeless shelter in the St. Louis area; donations for special education students in Cairo, and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

Prior to coming to SIU Carbondale, Reed’s experience included working as a chef manager at restaurants in Carbondale and Marion.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition from SIU Carbondale in 1990.

Simmons and Reed will each receive a certificate, a $1,250, award and a $1,000 professional development award.