University honors faculty, staff for advising, researching, teaching, outreach work

May 3, 2012 | News, UToday
By Vicki L. Kroll

UT outstanding advisers, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were recognized last week at the Academic Honors Reception. Advisers, researchers and teachers each received $1,000; Rathbun Award winners each took home $750.

Smith, left, and Rose

Recipients of the Outstanding Adviser Award were:

Michelle R. Rose, academic program coordinator in the Civil Engineering Department in the College of Engineering. She joined the University in 2010.

“Michelle has made it a top priority to know each and every student. She is always in her office with the door open, willing to help with everyone who walks in,” one nominator wrote. Another noted, “Michelle has been more than helpful to me these past two years. She is always available to meet when I ask, and she seems to know the answers to my questions before I ask.”

“My current advising philosophy can be summed up with five words: student-centeredness, empowerment, accuracy, accessibility and support,” Rose said. “As an undergraduate and graduate student, I experienced the full range of helpfulness vs. inefficiencies as I worked with various staff and faculty advisers. Reflecting on those experiences allowed me to develop my own advising philosophy, which I have adjusted over the past four years as I continue to learn from my students.”

Dr. Linda Smith, associate dean and senior lecturer in the Honors College. From 1979 to 1992, she was with the English Department as an instructor, graduate assistant and University Fellow, and then joined the Honors Program, which became the Honors College.

“Linda Smith is one of those people who is like sunshine, always warm, and whenever I went to visit her, she would always brighten up my day,” one nominator wrote. Another wrote, “I have not had the easiest college experience since I entered UT my freshman year. However, I was lucky enough to have Linda Smith as my academic adviser and through all my tragedies and triumphs, she has been immensely supportive of me.”

“In my view, an adviser is many things: a cheerleader, a problem-solver, an advocate, sometimes even a financial planner, a career counselor and a friend,” Smith said. “But it all starts with being a provider of information and being willing to keep a handle on the many changing complexities of academic requirements for graduation.”

Czajkowski, left, and Zietlow

Recipients of the Outstanding Researcher Award were:

Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, professor of geography and planning in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences. He joined the UT faculty in 1998.

“His research interests are in the areas of applications of remote sensing and geographic information science to environmental issues, including land-use change, watershed processes, meteorology and agricultural practices, and also in kindergarten-through-12 science education,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Czajkowski has been awarded more than $16 million in external research funding support in collaboration with colleagues from various UT departments, most notably Environmental Sciences, Education and Health Sciences, as well as other universities.”

Funding support has come from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others. Results of his work have been published in more than 40 peer-reviewed journals and presented at more than 50 regional, national and international meetings.

Rebecca Zietlow, Charles W. Fornoff Professor of Law and Values in the College of Law. The nationally recognized scholar in constitutional history and politics who is an expert in constitutional interpretation outside of the courts has been at the University since 1995.

“Her research and scholarship focuses on the Reconstruction Era, including the meaning and history of the 13th and 14th Amendments,” one nominator wrote. “Professor Zietlow’s most recent scholarship has focused on the history and meaning of the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude, as well as the history of congressional enforcement and that amendment. Her latest article, ‘James Ashley’s 13th Amendment,’ which will be published in the Columbia Law Review this year, promises to bring national attention to the contribution of Ashley, a member of the Reconstruction Congress from Toledo, who played a pivotal role in ensuring that the amendment was approved by Congress.”

The nominator also noted, “Zietlow has developed an original theory of equal citizenship about the 14th Amendment, which guarantees individual rights against state intrusion, enabling her to explain its continuing vitality in modern jurisprudence.”

Pasupuleti, left, and Lawrence

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were:

Dr. Patrick Lawrence, professor and chair of the Department of Geography and Planning in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences. A faculty member at UT since 1999, Lawrence also is chair of the UT President’s Commission on the River.

His longtime involvement with the Maumee Remedial Action Plan Committee through the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments helped lead to the 2007 creation of the local nonprofit Partners for Clean Streams, of which he is a founding trustee and has served as president for the past five years. And he brought and leads Clean Your Stream efforts to the University and started Celebrate Our River Week at UT.

“Dr. Lawrence’s involvement with Partners for Clean Streams led him to the knowledge and resources needed to leverage in-kind resources for an Army Corps of Engineers’ agreement to survey, engineer and design the Ottawa River habitat improvement project currently in design at UT,” one nominator wrote. “The habitat restoration project for the 3,700 feet of the Ottawa River through Main Campus nearing completion will be a cornerstone for river revitalization and education throughout campus.”

Dr. Sudershan Pasupuleti, associate professor of social work in the Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service. He joined the UT faculty in 2001 and has been director of the Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement since 2005.

As the first director of the Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement, he has helped design projects on behalf of the University as well as answer calls from area agencies in need of research assistance and volunteers. Pasupuleti is working with the Age Friendly Network group in the city of Toledo and Lucas County to make the community respectful for those of all ages.

“Currently, Dr. Pasupuleti is involved with the project that he designed in response to President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. UT students with different faith traditions are brought together for this project, which is designed to help Chase Elementary School and the surrounding neighborhood,” one nominator wrote. “More than a dozen community organizations, hundreds of UT students, students in Toledo Public Schools, and a few thousand community people all can attest to his excellent projects.”

Back row, from left, Fournier, Sochacki and McLoughlin, and front row, from left, Gohara, Griswold and Coulter-Harris

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award were:

Dr. Deborah Coulter-Harris, associate lecturer in English. She has been a faculty member of the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences since 2003.

“She is the real meaning of what a teacher is; she is there for you whenever you need help with anything, and she will make sure you understand what you’re doing,” one nominator wrote. “She is kind and generous and willing to do whatever to make sure that her class is not just a group of students, but sits one by one and gets to know each and every single one of us. Dr. Coulter-Harris strives for excellence in herself and students; she believes in every student who walks through her door.”

“I run very interactive classrooms and strive to be cheerful and caring toward all students; however, I never weaken standards of classroom conduct and expected performance,” Coulter-Harris said. “There is no greater profession than teaching others to become articulate and successful citizens of the future. The profession of teaching does not just involve students but includes working with colleagues for a higher purpose than self.”

Dr. Ron Fournier, professor of bioengineering. He has been teaching in the College of Engineering since 1985. He received an Outstanding Researcher Award in 1995.

“Dr. Fournier is incredibly personable and willingly makes even the most intense subject matter accessible to every student individually. He does this through a variety of means perfected by his years of experience in the field. He is always readily available,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Fournier also incorporates a charming sense of humor into every lecture, stopping now and then to trail off into a story about the subject matter to keep students engaged in the material and to show the real-world application of the content.”

“I like to challenge students with rather involved problems and show them how engineering analysis can be used in the real world,” Fournier said. “I also work very hard at being accessible to my students and encourage them to stop by my office where, in most cases, the real learning happens.”

Selina Griswold, associate professor of applied organizational technology. She joined the College of Business and Innovation faculty in 2009 but has been teaching at UT since 1989.

“My first semester at UT, I had three classes — one class with a professor who was completely unapproachable and the other two with Selina. She was a polar opposite, and a complete joy to learn from,” one nominator wrote. “The classes I had then were Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Development. She was incredibly knowledgeable in both subjects, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning from her. She became to me the face of UT. Had it not been for her kindness and passion for teaching what she loved, I may have left UT.”

“I currently teach completely online, but I have learned that whether a course is in the lecture hall or online, it is important that I make sure students are engaged in the learning process, encouraged to be critical thinkers, and that they know I am excited about the subject matter,” Griswold said. “Ultimately, what becomes most important is that I convey to students that they are a valued member of our UT family.”

Dr. Amira Gohara, professor of pathology and dean emerita. She completed her residency at MCO from 1970 to 1973 and has taught in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences since 1974.

“During the winter of my first year at UT, Dr. Gohara became my mentor and helped make Toledo my home,” one nominator wrote. “She made time every month to meet with myself and a few other students, and with her soft words and caring gestures made us feel at home. Dr. Gohara made a positive influence on my life by asking how I felt, how my family was, and whether or not I was happy. These questions helped me realize that through all the rigorous academics, I have to maintain who I am and continue to love and care for others to make a well-rounded physician.”

“I feel teaching is an honor and a privilege as we are entrusted with our students’ future. For me to be an effective teacher, I need to know my students as individuals and their backgrounds because each one of us learn in a different way, and knowing the person you are teaching is a key to their mind, future and success,” Gohara said. “I basically love my students as my own children, and their well-being is very important to me. My teaching philosophy is to be simple, clear, caring, understanding and always enthusiastic when you interact with the students.”

Dr. Thomas McLoughlin, associate professor of kinesiology. He joined the faculty in the Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service in 2004.

“Dr. McLoughlin was not the kind of teacher who reads straight off his slides, but he used them as a tool for us to get the idea of what we were going to talk about. He used them as a starting point and dove right into the material, bringing it to life,” one nominator wrote. “Few people can make discussions about neuromuscular adaptations to resistance training or how to measure energy that was used during exercise digestible, much less exciting. Somehow Dr. McLoughlin manages this with an alacrity and clarity that is almost magical.”

“I feel like a con man in winning this award, but in a good way. I get paid to work with bright, motivated, enthusiastic students at a terrific institution. Now I’m getting an award for doing it? What a racket I have going here,” McLoughlin said. “I am truly grateful to hear that I have had a positive impact on the students I have been fortunate to teach here at UT.”

Dr. Susan Sochacki, assistant professor of nursing. She joined the College of Nursing in 2003.

“I wish there were more professors who catered their teachings to all learning, visual or written, the way Dr. Sochacki does. She is able to explain a disease process where you understood it in detail in 30 minutes that took pathophysiology three classes to explain,” a nominator wrote. “She provides real-life experiences to apply the information to in the clinical setting. She is passionate about students learning and what our learning needs are. You can see that she spends a great deal of time with her lectures and presentations.”

“I take my role as gatekeeper to this profession very seriously. I want to ensure that student nurses have the tools to transition to novice practitioners,” Sochacki said. “Each day I stand in front of a group of students, I am grateful for the wonderful role models who have gone before me here in the College of Nursing. I have been blessed with wonderful mentors in my career, and am honored to be recognized not only as a nurse, but as a teacher.”

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