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Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards Announced
at UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: Aug. 25, 2009

2009 UW-Eau Claire Excellence Awards recipients
UW-Eau Claire's 2009 faculty and staff excellence award recipients are (front, from left) Dr. Scott Oates, Dr. Douglas Dunham, Nancy Hendricks, Dr. Michael Kolis; and (back, from left) Dr. Matthew Waters, Dr. Matt Germonprez, Dr. Paul Thomas and Jacqueline Bonneville. (UW-Eau Claire photo by Bill Hoepner).

EAU CLAIRE — Eight University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty and staff members were recognized for excellence during the university's academic year opening meeting Aug. 25.

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich presented 2009 Excellence Awards to Jacqueline Bonneville, coordinator of new student initiatives, Advising and New Student Initiatives; Dr. Douglas Dunham, professor of physics and astronomy and director of UW-Eau Claire's Materials Science Center; Dr. Matt Germonprez, assistant professor of information systems; Nancy Hendricks, an academic associate in the athletics program; Dr. Michael Kolis, associate professor of education studies; Dr. Scott Oates, associate professor of English and director of university assessment, Academic Affairs; Dr. Paul Thomas, professor of physics and astronomy; and Dr. Matthew Waters, associate professor of foreign languages.

Each honoree received a university medallion and a $1,500 check from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. Three of the awards the Excellence in Teaching Award and the Excellence in Performance awards for classified and academic staff are funded by Markquart Motors and Markquart Toyota of Eau Claire. The Arnold and Lois Domer Foundation of Eau Claire funded the award honoring the nominee for the Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award.

Bonneville, who has coordinated UW-Eau Claire's New Student Orientation program since coming to UW-Eau Claire from UW-Stout in 2003, received the Excellence in Performance Award for Administrative and Professional Academic Staff. She has been universally praised for her outstanding capability in organizing the New Student Orientation program, an intense role that assures that new students and their families feel welcome and connected to the university. Her supervisor noted that people from all over campus have gone out of their way to say how glad they are that Bonneville is in charge of the orientation program. "Since it is a very public program that involves every office on campus, it is crucial to have someone who works well with others, cares about students and about the image of the university, and makes certain that every little detail is taken care of. Jacqueline fits this description perfectly," her supervisor wrote. Bonneville's continual assessment and improvement of the orientation program was also noted, as well as the fact that past orientation assistants have cited Bonneville's encouragement, advice and professional mentorship as directly influencing their own decisions to pursue careers in student affairs. Bonneville also serves as a half-time adviser to undeclared students, where her caring attitude and dedication to a thorough knowledge of the curriculum and programs offered have earned her some of the best student evaluations in Academic Advising. Another factor in her nomination has been her willingness to offer help wherever it is needed. When the past coordinator of the National Student Exchange was preparing to retire, Bonneville served as interim coordinator for 2007-08 and placed 38 students at universities across the country, a number dramatically higher than other participating UW institutions. She was later named permanent NSE coordinator. She also served as acting associate dean of student development, assisting students in crisis, during the fall of 2007, and again in the spring of this year, a time when she is traditionally very busy with orientation. She has been described by one colleague as "the consummate professional," exhibiting professionalism in many ways, but particularly in her ability to work successfully with people in all areas and in her embodiment of "the concept of servant leadership."

Dunham, who came to UW-Eau Claire in 1999, received the Excellence in Service Award. Nominators from both the campus and community have cited Dunham's seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm, particularly in his role as initiator and subsequent leader in the establishment of the Materials Science Center at UW-Eau Claire, which brought all the varying materials science research instrumentation on campus together under one roof to present a unified front of high-tech capabilities. His work has been described as "a labor of love" since he received no additional compensation or release time when he took on the daunting task of gaining the cooperation of several UW-Eau Claire departments (physics and astronomy, chemistry, biology and geology) and collaborating with local and state government officials to coordinate use of the MSC by Chippewa Valley Technical College and UW-Stout. Students from these other schools will use the MSC as part of the NanoRite program in nanotechnology. He has provided numerous tours of the MSC to legislators, industry contacts, alumni and potential students, and he even presented a summer workshop in the MSC to middle school students. These efforts have resulted in contractual arrangements with local companies interested in making use of the analytical capabilities of the MSC, resulting in more funding for the center. He also played the central role in preparation of the DIN (proposal) that was presented to the state Legislature for the 2007-09 state budget and resulted in a combined $3 million in funding for NanoSTEM Initiative programming at UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout. UW-Eau Claire's portion included $1.9 million in new state funding, 12 new faculty/support staff positions and funds to acquire additional scientific instrumentation for the MSC to help attract high-tech employers to the state. Several colleagues also expressed surprise that Dunham was able to do all this and still find time to work with the local school system on numerous educational outreach activities, serve on a number of university committees and collaborate with four students (currently) on faculty/student collaborative research projects. "Simply amazing" is how one colleague described Dunham and his service activities.

Germonprez, a member of UW-Eau Claire's information systems faculty since 2005 and last year's recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, is UW-Eau Claire's nominee for the 2009 U.S. Professor of the Year Award sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Germonprez teaches upper-level information systems classes in design and development and is admired by students for his responsiveness to their questions and suggestions, as well as his ability to make difficult courses enjoyable, said Dr. Thomas Hilton, chair of the information systems department. "Ive watched him take feedback from students on how to improve some aspect of a course and then right there plan modifications to the lectures, assignments, exams, schedule and grading extemporaneously to address the issue raised by the students," Hilton said. "His students have commented to me repeatedly on this, observing that he is the only professor theyve ever had who could be so quickly responsive without sacrificing quality or efficiency." Hilton also noted Germonprez's "ability to make students love him for working them harder than they thought possible. Every semester I find in his course evaluations comments like, 'This is the hardest course Ive ever taken, and Ive never enjoyed a course more!'" Germonprez also teaches in a way that prepares students to continue learning about a subject area once they've completed a course, Hilton noted. "This is essential in the ever-changing field of organizational computing that is information systems," he said. Germonprez also recently co-wrote a $194,000 grant awarded by the ATLANTIS Mobility Program, which is funded and administered jointly by the U.S. Department of Education and the European Union. It will facilitate student and faculty exchanges between UW-Eau Claire, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the Management Center Innsbruck in Innsbruck, Austria, and the Braunschweig University of Technology in Braunschweig, Germany. The exchange program will emphasize the vital role of information and technology in the world today and focus on entrepreneurship, global collaboration, and IT management and research. This achievement resonates with one nominator's description of Germonprez as "an outstanding teacher and mentor to students and a forward-thinking scholar in the best, multidimensional sense of the word."

Hendricks received the Classified Staff Excellence in Performance Award. She joined the athletics program 32 years ago as a secretary and over the past three decades has become what the current director of athletics described as a "stabilizing force" in a complex department of some 20 different athletic programs. "To say that Nancy goes above and beyond her job requirements is an understatement," he wrote. "I believe what separates Nancy from the typical program assistant is the fact that she supports approximately 64 athletics department personnel and over 800 student athletes." In her 32 years, Hendricks has provided support for six different athletics directors. Her colleagues are unanimous in describing her as a team player who has "an incredible knowledge of the workings of the athletics department" and approaches everything she does in a professional manner. She was cited repeatedly, not only for her superior organizational skills and ability to keep everyone in the program on deadline, but also for her "positive attitude that is infectious and inspirational to everyone she works with, resulting in improved services for our students." Many coaches also mentioned her willingness to put in extra unpaid time when the department has won bids to host NCAA tournaments. They credit her with making all such tournaments run smoothly, working behind the scenes and expecting no credit for her contributions. "It is not a coincidence that UW-Eau Claire has successfully hosted a significant number of postseason conference, NCAA regional and NCAA national events," wrote one athletics program consultant. "Because of her great administrative abilities, we continue to be awarded major events to host." Finally, many expressed appreciation for the fact that Hendricks is also one of the most sincere supporters of the athletics department programs and athletes, appearing at numerous weekend and evening athletic events to cheer the various teams on to victory. Several colleagues agreed that "Nancy profoundly and positively influences a total community as she walks her journey to success at UW-Eau Claire."

Kolis, who joined the UW-Eau Claire College of Education and Human Sciences in 2002, was honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award. Alumni select this award recipient. Kolis has taught courses in the undergraduate early adolescence-adolescence and early childhood-adolescence programs, graduate education programs and the "fast-track certification" programs at UW-Eau Claire, as well as two cohorts of a hybrid masters degree master of education-professional development program which meets online and on weekends and is co-sponsored by the department of education studies and UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education. A colleague, Dr. Susan McIntyre, noted that for both the EAA/ECA programs and the graduate cohort project, Kolis has been a curriculum design leader. "Both programs have undergone major reforms under his leadership and collaborative work," she said. McIntyre also wrote that in one of education's "staple" courses, "General Methods of Education," 95 percent of the nearly 775 students surveyed between 2002 and 2008 rated him in the highest categories for effective teaching, and that nearly 100 percent of his graduate students rated him at the very highest level. "Dr. Kolis is viewed as an effective instructor who keeps current and provides an excellent role model for any student enrolled in any of his courses," McIntyre said. She particularly noted that Kolis has led the way to reform in middle school and secondary education programs, collapsing several methods courses into one course that is taught using seven essential questions. The class has been enthusiastically praised by students. "It was without a doubt the best educational experience of our lives," wrote two students who took the course together and recently married. "It fundamentally changed the way we looked at the world, and it helped us to become the teachers that we are today." Kolis, who taught high school science before becoming a college professor, is also currently the president for the Northcentral Association for Science Teacher Educators. Dr. Dwight C. Watson, chair of the education studies department, commented on Kolis' joy in teaching, "especially in the development of the knowledge, skills and dispositions of pre-service teachers, as well as his work in the MEDP cohort." Watson recently taught with Kolis and said, "What a delightful colleague, an excellent teacher and a good human being is Mickey Kolis."

Oates, who came to UW-Eau Claire in 1999, received the Excellence in Advising Award. A Student Senate committee makes the nominations for this award based on the results of a survey of current students. All the students who nominated Oates emphasized how welcoming he always is, whether they are just dropping by his office for a quick question or dealing with a complicated issue such as a change of majors. All felt that he was committed to getting to know his advisees well, and all expressed appreciation for his genuine interest in them and in their lives outside the university. One of the 39 English education majors who Oates currently advises described him as "kind, caring and compassionate, not only about his students, but also about the subject he teaches, making it easy to discuss scheduling, assignments and the struggles of becoming a teacher. I feel that without the wonderful advising I have received thus far and look forward to continually receiving I would have had a much more difficult time in college," the student wrote. Another student said that Oates understands the needs of his advisees and encourages those that might be on the verge of giving up. "Knowing what we are capable of, he challenges us to work our hardest and do our best to explore our interests and succeed in our courses," the student wrote. "Thanks to my adviser's strong belief in his students and this university, I can say that my years at UW-Eau Claire have been invaluable, and I am so fortunate to have had an adviser who is both mentor and friend." Similarly, another student said, "I feel so fortunate to have been under his care and guidance during my time at UW-Eau Claire." All the advisees who nominated Oates stressed how generous he is with his time, often spending an hour or more helping them work through some problem. They also were impressed with his knowledge of the requirements for teacher training. "He knew so much, but even if he didn't, he would get back to me promptly with an answer," another wrote, concluding, "He certainly deserves this recognition for his hard work and dedication, knowledge of the system and ability to counsel his advisees with accuracy and care."

Thomas, who has taught in the physics and astronomy department since 1989, is the UW-Eau Claire 2009 Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award nominee. "Science is hard," wrote one of Thomas' former student researchers, now a doctoral student at Florida State University. "Effective science teaching requires both technical expertise and a unique blend of personality, experience and the ability to communicate. Paul Thomas possesses these qualities and demonstrates them daily, educating and inspiring discovery in students in ways only a classroom-tested veteran could. After almost 20 years of teaching physics and astronomy at UW-Eau Claire, he continues to innovate by pursuing new strategies in educating, both in the university and in the community about science and why it matters," this young scientist wrote. Innovation was a word that came up again and again in the nomination letters for Thomas. He was the acknowledged leader in the collaborative development of the relatively new computational science minor at UW-Eau Claire, which gives young scientists in a variety of disciplines experience in computational, real-world problem solving. As director of that minor program, he coordinated the development of four new courses in the departments of math and computer science, which provided the backbone of the program, and the listing of a wider set of elective courses in each of the collaborating departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, and physics and astronomy. He also collaborated in the development of a special topics course that partners computational science juniors and seniors with research collaborators in the participating departments, as well as a capstone course that requires independent work in a field related to computational science. Dr. Marc Goulet, professor of mathematics and associate dean of students who worked with Thomas to develop the computational science program, wrote, "Paul is quite simply an excellent collaborator and teacher. His enthusiasm is infectious and his intellect prodigious and inviting." Thomas also was cited by nominators for his willingness to cooperate with colleagues in other departments in the development of innovative, multidisciplinary courses. He has co-developed and co-taught new courses with colleagues in physics, chemistry, geology and even English. In addition, he has been praised for organizing the popular "Ask a Scientist" monthly seminar series, which beginning in 2008 offered 30-minute presentations by UW-Eau Claire scientists on topics of interest at a local coffee shop. The program, which also offers a 30-minute question-and-answer period, has been well received, with typical attendance in the range of 50 to 70 community members. But Dr. Marty Wood, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the English professor who team-taught a course with Thomas, wrote that, for him, "it all comes back to presence and character and commitment." Wood is not surprised that Thomas is most often mentioned as a favorite teacher or most helpful adviser by graduating seniors in physics and astronomy. "Paul is a teacher who draws your attention like gravity itself and binds you firmly in the powerful joy of learning," Wood wrote. "I recommend him to every student who asks, and in any future semester I will team up with him again in a heartbeat."

Waters, who has taught at UW-Eau Claire for 10 years, received the Excellence in Scholarship Award. He has a joint appointment in the departments of foreign languages and history, teaching Greek and Latin language classes, as well as several ancient history courses. Waters has been jokingly described by the foreign languages department chair, Dr. Johannes Strohschank, as a man who "lives a large part of his life in the first millennium BCE" and, more seriously, as "a scholar of worldwide renown, one of a very few experts on a region and a period in history little known to us." He refers in particular to the area of the Middle East once known as the Persian Empire. One former mentor wrote that he considers Waters "to be the best ancient Near Eastern historian of his generation," producing publications that are "thorough, well-researched and lucid," as well as "groundbreaking." Another former professor described his work as "original, imaginative and meticulous" and Waters himself as "one of the world's experts in the fields of Achaemenid and Elamite studies," noting that his is "one of only two Americans who work in these areas." Many nominators mentioned how rare it is for a scholar who received his doctoral degree only 10 years ago to have published so many highly acclaimed articles, reviews and books, most of which were invited. One article was recently awarded the Jonas C. Greenfield Prize by the American Oriental Society, and in 2005 the American Council of Learned Societies awarded Waters a $40,000 fellowship so that he could concentrate on his latest research on Greek historiography of the Persian Empire. Dr. Thomas Miller, emeritus professor of history, pointed out that Waters reads no fewer than seven languages, including five ancient tongues. Those languages include German, French, Latin, Greek, Akkadian, Old Persian and Elamite. "For a scholar in the field of ancient history and classical studies, this kind of proficiency is essential, but still awe inspiring to those of us who work in modern Western fields," Miller wrote, adding that he could "think of no individual more genuinely qualified to receive the Excellence in Scholarship award and at the same time more well-rounded and deserving in every way." Nominators also cited the many ways in which Water shares his love of research and scholarship with students. He has received 10 faculty/student collaborative research grants, directed three master's theses on ancient history, overseen 10 senior thesis projects and numerous independent studies, and mentored one McNair Fellow during his time at UW-Eau Claire.

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NW/AH

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