The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes a faculty member who exemplifies the Elon teacher-scholar -- outstanding in the classroom, current in the discipline, and committed to the intellectual development of students. Elon's mission statement calls for "a rich intellectual community characterized by active student engagement with a faculty dedicated to excellent teaching." The selection committee looked for excellence in the classroom as tangibly demonstrated by teaching and administrative evaluations for the preceding three years. Equally important were intangible factors such as inspiring students in the discipline, embracing ways to engage students in active learning, being available to students outside the classroom, being known as an excellent academic adviser, and having a willingness to teach where needed.
We are honored to present the Excellence in Teaching Award to two Elon College Faculty.
Michael Fels (Department of Art). Michael is a stellar teacher and mentor both in the context of the Art Department andacross campus. His way of working with students greatly expands on the narrow definition of a teacher – someone who imparts knowledge – by practicing the Socratic method of learning. This free exchange of ideas creates a vital and interactive learning environment that is constantly undergoing change and evolving in a way that supports risk and deeper immersion into art-making and life lessons. It is like extemporaneous jazz that both embraces and defies its own traditions creating a new synthesis. While his student evaluations are outstanding, they cannot fully describe the balance of high expectations and support with which Michael approaches his students and how they, in turn, usually respond with hard work resulting in exponential growth. While students often speak of Michael’s intensity with some trepidation, those comments are invariably followed by a confession that the process was amazing and that they learned a great deal. In the words of one student “Professor Fels has a selfless teaching style always putting his students’ interests first and dropping everything to help anyone in the class.” Even though his teaching is primarily in Art foundation courses, student recognition of Michael’s integrity, keen intellect, and knowledge of all media has made him an important mentor for seniors as well. Michael chooses to be one of the Art Department’s most peripatetic mentors because he thrives on working with different communities of students. His Global Studies courses bring together the Arts and Letters and the Performing Arts Living Learning Communities with disfranchised teens from Western Alamance Middle School. Michael uses art as a medium to connect this admixture of students using the themes of tolerance and social and environmental responsibility. He has also developed a traveling exhibition that features the work of students from UNC-G, Guilford North Carolina School of the Arts and, of course Elon University. The project has created a community of young artists who can share ideas across school borders and develop important exhibition skills. Michael, thank you for your excellence in teaching.
Todd Lee (Department of Mathematics). Todd has a genuine love for mathematics that shines in his interactions with students and faculty. Hisextroverted and uninhibited nature loudly proclaim his love of mathematics and his passion for teaching. Todd’s constant and enthusiastic efforts have helped to create a new atmosphere of excitement and pride in the Department of Mathematics. Both students and faculty now talk about having “Math Love”, and Todd has been unofficially designated a “math god.” Todd loves teaching and he’s very good at it. He is rigorous, insightful, thought-provoking, engaged, and extremely knowledgeable. Todd recognizes that learning happens best when grounded in concrete examples, so he regularly leads students through case studies as he builds an understanding of complex theories and theorems. Even in an interdisciplinary class such as the Elon College Fellows “Paths of Inquiry” course, Todd excels. His understanding and love of math comes through, but it never overshadows the shared teaching themes of the class, themes that embrace all of the disciplines in the natural and mathematical sciences. He energizes students. His insight in to their abilities and belief in their capabilities has them reaching far beyond their self-imposed boundaries. Todd’s work with students at mathematics conferences and nearby universities has brought Elon much acclaim in the mathematical community. Within our regional association, our students dominate the student presentations and poster sessions. Although this is the fruit of the efforts of the entire department, Todd has been the main force behind recruiting students to share their work. Not surprisingly, Todd has a long and impressive record of student mentoring that is regularly evaluated by external reviewers as exceptional. Todd has been one of the most active and inventive department members in teaching with technology. He currently uses Second Life, a virtual reality and modeling tool, in his work with students. Wherever Todd is, he creates a fun and exciting atmosphere that is somehow all about learning. Todd, thank you for your excellence in teaching.
The Excellence in Service/Leadership Award recognizes a faculty member who richly contributes to the ongoing welfare and betterment of the College, the University, and the profession. We value the many service and leadership roles performed by faculty. The teacher-scholar document calls on faculty to "dedicate their talents, experience, and leadership skills to activities that sustain, develop, and improve the entire institution." We value presence on campus, noting over time who does the big and little tasks that make us a better College. The selection committee focused on the tangible results of service for the preceding year. Equally important were intangible factors such as a willingness to volunteer one?s time when needed, to carry new ideas to reality, and to engage in shared governance.
We are honored to present the Excellence in Service/Leadership Award to two Elon College Faculty.
Beth Warner (Department of Human Services). In her first year at Elon, Beth immediately took on significant service/leadership duties at thedepartment and institutional level. Her service includes: the leadership program, the service-learning program, women and gender studies, and non-violence studies. Under her mentorship the Human Services Department now has a thriving Human Services Club that had faltered during the years previous to her arrival. Beth also advises the Human Services honor society, Alpha Delta Omega, a group that engages in service and programming each year that supports mental health awareness. Beth works closely with student leaders in each organization and seeks to integrate new majors into these human services organizations. Additional committee work includes the Curriculum Committee and the faculty group that is exploring ways to enhance the Criminal Justice program. Beth’s extraordinary service is in the area of service-learning. She is a member of the Kernodle Center Advisory Board and a member of the North Carolina Campus Compact Research and Scholarship Initiative. Beth’s commitment to Elon’s service-learning program includes working closely with the service-learning living-learning residential community, for which she teaches the “Call to Service” course that these students take together in their first year. Finally, Beth is working with the Kernodle Center for Service-Learning to design and implement a study to assess student learning outcomes in academic service-learning courses across all disciplines, the first of its type at Elon. Beth’s commitment to service-learning is evident in all of her teaching. In the words of one graduate, “You were my favorite professor in college and I think it’s important that you know that. You challenge your students to think outside the box and your curriculum forces us to deal with concepts, situations and ideas that we have never experienced. I know that in 20 or 30 years, I’ll remember you and what an impact you had on my way of thinking and how I’ll relate to clients.” Beth, thank you for your excellence in Service-Leadership.
Jeffrey Coker (Department of Biology). Jeff ’s contributions in the area of university service and leadership are remarkable in light of the fact that heis only now completing his 3rd year of service to Elon University. Over the past year, he has committed his efforts to several tasks that display his dedication to the growth and improvement of Elon as a university for students as well as a university for the larger community. As the Chair of the General Studies Council, he moderated a session of the Academic Summit, led an update of the review process for upper-level GST courses, and launched a GST Assessment Plan. His efforts in the area of curriculum improvement include his work on the General Studies Assessment Task Force, the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Institutional Leadership Program, and the Elon Delegation to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Summer Institute on General Education. As a member of the Elon Academy Curriculum Committee, he was part of the team that developed a summer curriculum for talented high school students from underprivileged backgrounds and he has committed to teaching a course. Jeff is a member of the Terra Nova Community Planning Team, serves as the Faculty Co-Advisor for the Biology Club and Beta Beta Beta National Honor Society and Co-Advisor for the Math, Science, and Engineering Learning Community. A true Elon teacher-scholar, Jeff combines his passion for science and his commitment to a life in service to others into his classes and all his interactions with students. Under his leadership, the Biology Club raised funds for cystic fibrosis and his GST 110 class designed and built an environmentally sustainable greenhouse for the Kopper Top Life Learning Center to be used by disabled children. Despite his heavy service, leadership and teaching commitments, Jeff is an active scholar who inspires his students to pursue research. He has made 10 professional presentations and published 8 peer-reviewed papers in the areas of plant physiology, molecular biology and science education during his 3 years at Elon. Jeff, thank you for your excellence in Service-Leadership.
The Excellence in Scholarship Award recognizes a faculty member whose scholarly work has made a significant intellectual impact. Elon's teacher-scholar model describes scholarship as "the most fundamental form of professional activity." We value the scholarship of discovering new knowledge, integrating knowledge, applying knowledge, and developing pedagogical innovations. The selection committee considered tangible evidence of peer-reviewed research and creative activity that was published or presented during the preceding year. Equally important were intangible factors such as supporting the scholarly endeavors of colleagues, advancing the University's reputation, and mentoring students in undergraduate research. At Elon, a professor cannot be measured by the articles published, to the exclusion of the lives inspired.
We are honored to present the Excellence in Scholarship Award to two Elon College Faculty.
Laura Roselle(Department of Political Science and Public Administration). Laura Roselle is a model teacher/scholar who infuses her classes withresearch and writing insights from her impressive scholarship. Laura regularly teaches capstone seminars for both Political Science and International Studies majors, mentoring a substantial number of SURF presentations each year. Her focus on writing as an integral part of disciplinary inquiry and development in all of her classes led to the publication of Research Writing In International Relations: Developing Case Based Projects, a collaborative effort with Sharon Spray. Laura’s research has focused on the role of television in politics. Her articles and book reviews have been published in leading journals, including the Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, and in the American Behavioral Scientist. Her standing as a major figure among international scholars of political communication was solidified by the fall publication of her book, Media and the Politics of Failure: Great Powers, Communication Strategies, and Military Defeats. Praise for the book includes: "In this fascinating study, Laura Roselle compares how political leaders in the United States and the Soviet Union developed a media strategy to minimize or camouflage the failure of their war policies. She does this through extensive comparative content analysis, archival work, high-level interviews, and a thorough mining of the literature on both sides regarding the American withdrawal from Vietnam and the Soviet exit from Afghanistan.” Recent work with collaborator Brooke Barnett – Patriotism in the American News: The Effect of an Uncritical American Public on International Relations – was presented at the International Studies Association Meeting in Ireland. Her leadership in the field was further recognized by being selected as the President-elect of the International Communication Section of the International Studies Association and its Program Chair for the 2008 ISA conference. Laura also is a member of the Editorial Board of the forthcoming Sage journal, Media, War and Conflict. Laura, thank you for your excellence in scholarship.
Lynne Kurdziel Formato (Department of Performing Arts). Lynne exemplifies the active model of the teacher-scholar. In performing arts some of themost significant research accomplished by faculty members takes place in the preparation of productions for the stage. The results of this research are shared with the public through innovative, creative, dynamic performances. Countless hours of research, planning, and collaboration go into such efforts both on campus and off. Lynne has been prolific in these efforts – she served as choreographer for our campus productions of Urinetown, The Musical, and Carousel. Her off-campus professional work this year includes choreographer for South Pacific at Heritage Repertory Theatre; A Chorus Line for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre; Christmas in the Smokies for Dollywood; and Urinetown, The Musical for the Musicalfare Theater Company, for which she won the Buffalo ArtVoice Artie Award and the Katharine Cornell Award for Outstanding Choreography. Lynne served as director/choreographer for The Full Monty for Artpark in New York. Lynne has also dedicated herself to advancing the profession through service to The Music Theatre Educators Alliance, in which she holds the office of Vice-President for Conference, and she makes numerous conference presentations at MTEA, the Southeastern Theatre Conference, and Dance Master of America National Teachers’ Training School. Lynne is not only a prolific professional/creative artist she is also an exemplary teacher. Students admire the wealth of practical experience and perspective Lynne infuses into her classes and production work with students. One recent graduate summed it up quite nicely when she said: “Thanks for sharing your knowledge and allowing me to have so many wonderful opportunities. You’ve pushed me farther than I thought I could go in such a caring and understanding manner and taught me to have more confidence in myself as a performer and a person. Elon is so lucky to have you!” Lynne, thank you for your excellence in scholarship.
Congratulations to each of the award winners!!!!
To further honor all of our recipients and celebrate our excellence, I have asked the students performing in the Elon Dancers Spring Concert to perform a piece. I invite you to attend the concert tonight through Saturday at 7:30 PM. Please join me in welcoming the dancers.