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University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

University Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 15
Fifteenth Week
Fall Semester
Nov. 25, 2002
 CeCelia Zorn wins Wisconsin Professor of the Year award
In recognition of her exceptional achievements in nursing education, CeCelia Zorn, a professor in the department of nursing systems in the UW-Eau Claire School of Nursing, is the 2002 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Wisconsin Professor of the Year.
     The award is given annually by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education to recognize the importance of undergraduate instruction at all types of higher education institutions.
     "I am awestruck by this award. I owe a great deal to my colleagues, who have been fantastic mentors," Zorn said.
     Both colleagues and students describe Zorn as a true master teacher, one who advocates for students, creatively teaches using a variety of methods and firmly grounds her teaching in the most recent research and theory.
     "When I think of CeCelia, I think of the words of Emerson, ‘Our chief want in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can.' For a generation of nursing students CeCelia is that somebody," said colleague Mary Ellen Stolder.
     Zorn began her teaching career at UW-Eau Claire in 1980. In 1996, she received the UW-Eau Claire Excellence in Teaching Award, one of the highest awards presented to faculty and determined by a university alumni vote. In the School of Nursing, she also received awards for excellence in clinical instruction and for faculty creativity and scholarliness.
     "To observe Dr. Zorn in the classroom is as if one is watching a well-choreographed ballet," said Mary Zwygart-Stauffacher, chair of the nursing systems department. "The discovery, the encouragement and the challenge to students to expand their thinking are all done with great ease, composure and refinement."
     Zorn believes continued student and teacher scholarship is the goal of teaching and learning. To that end, for example, she developed a course with an English professor to help undergraduate nursing students improve their thinking and writing skills.
     "Although writing-to-learn is not a new idea, linking it so closely to a professional discipline, carefully shaping the approach to individual and small groups of students, and developing trusting and enduring student-teacher relationships pushed the idea to new levels," Zorn says.
     Provost Ronald Satz, who nominated Zorn for the award, cites her recent sabbatical as an example of her continuous search for new and better teaching methods. "Even though Dr. Zorn has received many acknowledgments of her teaching excellence, she continues to seek educational and experiential opportunities to enhance her teaching," Satz wrote.
     One of the results of that sabbatical, which focused on using the humanities to help students learn nursing, is a manuscript titled, "All the Voices in the Room," co-authored by Zorn, five graduate students and her sabbatical mentor, an internationally recognized expert who uses drama as a teaching approach in higher education in Sweden.
     The project, which will be submitted for presentation next summer at a national professional nursing education meeting, describes an assignment in which nursing education students and Zorn each selected a piece of art and described how it reflected their theory of education. A display of the art pieces in class became the catalyst for in-depth reflection and discussion about educational theory.
     "Early on in my career I wouldn't have been sure it was OK to try this approach to teaching," Zorn said. "Now I trust the students' ability to learn in any situation as long as we focus on the educational goal, always reflecting on personal and professional growth and learning."
     Zorn keeps up her clinical skills by working several shifts each month in the medical/neuroscience unit at a local hospital. "Patient contact strengthens my teaching and helps me stay grounded," she says. "I learn firsthand what nurses are facing and can better prepare students for practice."
     "Dr. Zorn is one of the most amazing professors I have had the pleasure of learning from," wrote Melyssa Heintz, a nontraditional nursing student. "She is a mentor and a counselor, an educator and an inspiration. She is one of those people that come into your life and leave a piece of themselves with you forever, and you feel truly blessed."
     "It is the daily and ordinary teaching and learning, walking side-by-side with students, where both develop a deeper role as scholars. It is in this daily-ness that scholarship lives and grows," Zorn said.
     Zorn received her bachelor's degree in nursing from UW-Eau Claire, her master's degree in nursing from California State University-Los Angeles and her doctorate from UW-Milwaukee.
     She is the fourth UW-Eau Claire professor to be selected as the state's top undergraduate teacher. Chemistry professor Jack Pladziewicz received the award in 1993; psychology professor William Frankenberger in 1995; and chemistry professor Scott Hartsel in 2001. Judges evaluate nominees in the following areas: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contribution to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.
     The national and state winners of the U.S. Professors of the Year program were honored Nov. 21 at an awards luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Nursing professor inducted into American Academy of Nursing
Mary Zwygart-Stauffacher, professor and chair of the department of nursing systems at UW-Eau Claire, received one of the nursing profession's highest honors earlier this month when she was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.
     The Academy, which provides visionary leadership to the nursing profession and the public in shaping future health care policy and practice, has some 1,500 fellows, many of whom sit on policy-making boards, head professional associations, are involved in international activities, work in health care planning and are at the forefront of human rights and minority issues affecting health care. Seventy nursing leaders from around the country were inducted this year.
     "This is considered nursing's highest honor for a lifetime of nursing achievements," said Elaine Wendt, interim associate dean of nursing. "It reflects very highly on Mary's commitment to both the discipline and the profession and upon our School of Nursing."
     Zwygart-Stauffacher has more than 25 years in gerontological nursing practice, particularly in the nursing home arena, where she has implemented new advanced practice roles and clinical best practice models. She has held a variety of faculty positions in schools of nursing and is an investigator with the University of Missouri-Columbia MDS and Quality Research Team.
     She is a frequent presenter on topics related to gerontological nursing and advanced practice nursing, care of frail elderly, nursing home quality of care issues and Minimum Data Set/Quality Indicators. She has co-authored or authored numerous publications on these topics, including two award-winning books on quality care in the nursing home setting.
     "I've spent most of my practice in nursing homes, working with the frailest, oldest patients. Election to the Academy means a great deal to me because it validates this work and brings honor to nursing homes and nurses who work with such a deserving, but challenging group of patients," she said.
     Zwygart-Stauffacher joined the nursing faculty at UW-Eau Claire two years ago. She previously was on the nursing faculty at the University of Minnesota. She also is employed as a gerontological nurse practitioner for nursing home services with the Red Cedar Clinic/Mayo Health System in Menomonie. She holds a master of science with specialization in gerontological nursing and a post-masters gerontological nurse practitioner preparation from Rush University. She earned her doctoral degree in nursing from UW-Milwaukee.

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Updated: November 25, 2002