posted January 7, 2013

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. 7.

Named a “Towsley Research Scholar” was Beth Anderson, assistant professor of chemistry.

The “Janet L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Award” was presented to Mike Seymour, professor of chemistry.

The “Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Awards” were presented to Susan Dunn, associate professor of nursing and chairperson of the department, and Fred Johnson, associate professor of history.

The “Academic Computing Advisory Team (ACAT) Innovation Award” was presented to Will Polik, who is the Edward and Elizabeth Hofma Professor of Chemistry and chairperson of the department.

The “Provost’s Award for Service to the Academic Program” was presented to Peter Schakel, who is the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Professor of English and chairperson of the department.

The Motoichiro Oghimi Global Courage Award was presented to Alfredo Gonzales, who is associate provost and dean for international and multicultural education, and Chuck Green, who is a professor of psychology and director of the Phelps Scholars Program.

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.

Anderson, who has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2010, will use the award in support of her research project “Nanomaterial Synthesis, Assembly, and Characterization.”  Focused on materials far smaller than the human eye can see, Anderson’s research involves determining ways to fabricate nanomaterials and further understanding the characteristics of nanomaterials and how they interact.  She conducts her work collaboratively with Hope-student researchers.

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.

Seymour, who has taught at Hope since 1978, was recognized for contributions including his role in helping students become more actively engaged in learning course content while improving other skills such as critical thinking, writing or speaking.  Examples included his enhancement of the introductory chemistry lecture and laboratory program, which is taught by a variety of faculty, and his practice in his “Chemistry and the Environment” course of having students share examples of chemistry in the news and then linking the topics to the course content.  Among other activities, he was also instrumental in developing a new science course for students seeking to become elementary teachers.

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.

Dunn, who has taught at Hope since 1997, was celebrated for her excellence as a teacher, researcher and departmental leader.  She involves students in her research program, and helped develop and teaches courses focused on research in addition to her other teaching.  She has facilitated partnerships with Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University for students interested in graduate study.  Among other distinctions, the department’s graduates have achieved a 100-percent pass rate on the national licensing exam in nursing during each of the past two years.

Johnson, a member of the faculty since 2000, has been recognized for his teaching by students multiple times, including with an appreciation award during Homecoming in 2002, selection as the Commencement speaker in 2003 and as recipient of the Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award in 2005.  He was also praised for representing the college through his active engagement in the community, including as a speaker for multiple West Michigan churches, schools and service organizations; as a candidate for U.S. Congress; and teaching courses on the African American church at Western Theological Seminary.

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.

Polik was recognized especially for his role in developing “WebMO,” a web-based graphical user interface for running computational modeling software packages in chemistry.  First developed by Polik and one of his research students, 2001 graduate Jordan Schmidt, more than a decade ago, “WebMO” is now used by more than 2,000 colleges, universities and research centers, including by hundreds of students each year at Hope.  A member of the faculty since 1988, Polik has been a leader in the area of computational technology throughout his career at Hope, and has received multiple external grants through the years to develop high-performance computer clusters used throughout the natural and applied sciences.

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.

Schakel was honored for taking on the role of department chair during a difficult time and for his effective and dedicated leadership.  Schakel, who had also chaired the department on previous occasions, became co-chair during 2011-12 as colleague and former chair Dr. David Klooster, who died in June 2012, coped with a brain tumor.  Schakel has continued as chair during the current school year, his contributions including helping the department weather the challenge of hiring additional faculty to accommodate the record-size freshman class and counseling advisees of colleagues on leave.  A member of the faculty since 1969, Schakel also continues as a classroom teacher and his own scholarly work.

The Motoichiro Oghimi Global Courage Award is presented to individuals who exhibit the intercultural courage exemplified by Motoichiro Oghimi, a member of the college’s Class of 1879 who came from Japan as one of Hope’s first international students.  It is given to faculty or academic staff members who exemplify deep engagement with the part of the college’s mission that calls for preparing students for leadership and service in a global society; bold risk-taking in creating new ways and opportunities to help students engage with other people, places and cultures; and engagement in global initiatives that go above and beyond their normal responsibilities.

Gonzales has been involved in multicultural education at Hope for more than 30 years.  He joined the staff in 1979 as director of the college’s Upward Bound program.  He became director of minority student affairs in 1984, assistant dean of multicultural life in 1986 and assistant provost in 1990.  He acquired administrative responsibility for international education when he was named associate provost in 2001, and was appointed to his current position as associate provost and dean in 2006.  In addition to his work at Hope, he has been active in enhancing international and multicultural understanding locally and regionally, including through his role in development of Holland’s sister-city relationship with Queretaro in Mexico and as a founding member of the Tulipanes Latino Art and Film Festival.

Green, who joined the faculty in 1983, has directed the Phelps Scholars Program since it began in 1998.  The program is an academic program for first-year students interested in learning about issues of race and culture.  They take a course together each semester, live in the same residence hall, participate in discussions, workshops and service projects, and engage in various social activities.  Colleagues and students alike celebrated both Green’s commitment to the program’s students as individuals and his dedication through participation in activities—including multiple weekend commitments—and emphasis on providing an international focus in the coursework.  The Association of American Colleges and Universities recognized the program as an exemplary diversity program in higher education in 2009.