posted January 9, 2012

Hope Presents Awards to Faculty

Hope College presented awards honoring teaching, service and scholarship to multiple faculty members during the college’s annual recognition luncheon on Monday, Jan. 9.

Named a “Towsley Research Scholar” was Aaron Putzke, assistant professor of biology.

The “Janet L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Awards” were presented to Billy Mayer, professor of art, and Sonja Trent-Brown, associate professor of psychology.

The “Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Awards” were presented to Andy Nakajima, associate professor of Japanese, and Roger Nemeth, professor of sociology.

The “Academic Computing Advisory Team (ACAT) Innovation Award” was presented to Barry Bandstra, who is the Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professor of Religion.

The “Provost’s Awards for Service to the Academic Program” were presented to Deirdre Johnston, professor of communication, and Tracey Nally, director of sponsored research programs.

The Towsley Research Scholars Program is funded through an endowment made possible through a grant from the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation of Midland. Through the program, newer Hope faculty members receive support for a project for four years. The foundation’s awards to the college have also included grants for the construction of the Van Wylen Library and the Schaap Science Center, faculty development in the pre-medical sciences and support for an endowed chair in communication.

Putzke will use the award to support his on-going research into the way that a protein called Fer affects how cells behave during both normal development and disease states such as cancer. Long-term, he is seeking to understand how altered amounts of the protein—either too much or too little—relate to abnormal cell functioning, including the processes that, in humans, can result in prostate cancer and leukemia. Ultimately, he hopes that the research will lead to effective new therapies for human diseases involving altered Fer function. Hope students will be working on the project as collaborative researchers both part-time during the school year and full-time for several weeks each summer.

Putzke has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2009. He has been involved in cancer-related research for more than 15 years, and immediately prior to coming to Hope was a postdoctoral research fellow for five years at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash.

The Janet L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Awards are presented to faculty members who have been teaching at Hope for at least seven years and who have demonstrated recognizable excellence in specific activities or aspects of teaching. The award is named in memory of Dr. Janet Andersen, a professor of mathematics at Hope who died of injuries sustained in an automobile accident on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005.

Mayer was recognized for his effective modeling of creativity in teaching and nurturing of creativity in his students that serves well beyond the classroom and studio. A sculptor whose work can be found throughout West Michigan, he teaches sculpture and oversees the college’s ceramics program. He joined the Hope faculty in 1978, and served as the chair of the department of art and art history from 1987 until 2004.

Trent-Brown was recognized for her effectiveness as both a classroom teacher and a research mentor. She was praised for bringing innovative topics and approaches to her course work, and for combining commitment to high standards to praise from students for dedication to their success. A member of the faculty since 2005, she has involved multiple students in collaborative research and supervised several others in independent projects.

The Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Awards recognize members of the Hope faculty who are superior teachers and have also contributed significantly in some other area of professional life. The award was established in memory of Dr. Ruth Yzenbaard Reed, a 1965 Hope graduate who was associate dean of Macomb Community College. Reed died in August 1999 at age 55.

Nakajima, a member of the Hope faculty since 1996, was honored for his active role in developing the college’s Japanese program, which includes a composite major in Japanese studies and an academic minor in Japanese. He also serves as a resource for members of the Hope community visiting Japan and as a campus ambassador for visitors from the universities with which Hope has exchange relationships.

Nemeth, a member of the Hope faculty since 1983, was recognized for his teaching—blending rigor and approachability--and scholarship, the latter of which has included involving students as collaborative researchers on a variety of projects in the U.S. as well as abroad, including both Romania and Japan. External recognition of his work has included statewide awards for teaching and service from the Michigan Sociological Association.

The Academic Computing Advisory Team (ACAT) Innovation Award is presented to a faculty or staff member who exemplifies innovation and ingenuity in the application of technology to the academic program. The innovation may have been used in the classroom or out, in teaching or in research, or in any form of academic support or performance.

A member of the Hope faculty since 1983, Bandstra is director of academic computing and chairperson of the college’s Academic Computing Advisory Team in addition to his role in the department of religion. In addition to his leadership role in integrating the use of computer technology into teaching at Hope, within his own discipline he has spent nearly three decades designing materials for both the personal computer and the web.

The Provost’s Award for Service to the Academic Program is presented to individuals who have provided special contributions to the academic program through student academic support, general education, assessment work, implementation of programs that support/enhance the curriculum, and any activity outside of formal teaching that contributes to the overall excellence of the academic program.

Johnston was recognized for her leadership role in shaping her department, including as a main force in developing an internship program required of all student majors, an honors program that sees nearly all student participants attend conferences to present research projects and development of a May Term to Scotland. A member of the faculty since 1994, she served as chair from 2003 to 2010.

Nally was recognized for her effectiveness in assisting faculty across the college in seeking external grant funding in support of their scholarship. She joined the Hope staff in 1995 as administrative assistant to the dean for the natural and applied sciences, and moved to her current role in 2007. She has also coordinated the college’s annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance since the program’s inception in 2002.