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Six faculty and staff members recognized for excellence

RELEASED: Aug. 23, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — Six University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty and staff members were recognized for excellence during the university's academic year opening meeting Aug. 23.

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich presented 2011 Excellence awards to Sarah Forcier, program assistant in Academic Affairs; Dr. J. Erik Hendrickson, professor and chair of the physics and astronomy department; Dr. Thomas Lockhart, professor of physics and astronomy, UW-Eau Claire's nominee for the 2011 Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award; Dr. Justin Patchin, associate professor of criminal justice; Dr. Alan Rieck, associate professor of music; and Linda Spaeth, coordinator for reading and study strategies and interim director of the Academic Skills Center.

Each honoree received a university medallion and a $1,500 check from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. 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.

Sarah Forcier
Sarah Forcier

Forcier was honored with the Excellence in Performance Award for Classified Staff. She worked in Advising and New Student Initiatives for 11 years and recently took a position as a program assistant in Academic Affairs. Forcier was nominated for outstanding contributions she made while working in the advising office. She handled correspondence and clerical tasks for nine academic advisers, maintained the department's Web page, conducted surveys and updated handbooks. She also served as clerical support for the annual Majors Fair, which involved coordination with many departments, and assisting staff members with programming and special projects.

In 2002 responsibilities for orientation were added to the office and Forcier's focus shifted. She assisted in the coordination of 16 summer sessions for more than 2,000 students and their families as well as Phase II Orientation with faculty and mentors, and coordinated transfer orientation for about 30 days throughout the year.

Forcier was regarded by her co-workers as an asset to the department in the area of technology, especially as it related to computer-based testing. When occasional problems arose, Forcier worked with technical support to quickly rectify the situation. Her work to make changes to processes and forms in the office was noted for improved efficiency for advisers and orientation assistants. Nomination letters consistently noted Forcier's professionalism, efficiency, excellent customer service and problem-solving skills.

"One of Sarah's many amazing characteristics is her ability to get along with everyone and to put everything into perspective," said Debbie Gough, director of advising at UW-Eau Claire. "She always keeps her eye on the ultimate goal — doing the best job so that students are well served."

Erik Hendrickson

Erik Hendrickson

Hendrickson received the Excellence in Service Award. He teaches courses in physical science, college physics and electromagnetic fields and served as chair of the physics and astronomy department from 2002 to June 2011. Under his guidance, the department has been recognized by the American Institute of Physics as a model for promoting careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and graduating a high number of physics students.

Known for his dedication, excitement for his profession and willingness to share expertise across campus and the greater Eau Claire community, Hendrickson conducts hundreds of presentations to engage youth and adults in the wonders of physics. Through his Science Theatre Outreach Group, Hendrickson supervises students as they create and present demonstrations for K-12 classrooms, reaching about 1,000 students each year.

"It's impossible to describe Erik's passion for the work he does without commenting on his strong dedication to students," said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of students, and Julia Diggins, coordinator of new student orientation, in Hendrickson's nomination letters. "He is quick to lend a hand to any student in need and is a caring and compassionate adviser."

Thomas Lockhart
Thomas Lockhart

Lockhart is UW-Eau Claire's nominee for the 2011 Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest recognition given to members of the UW System faculty and academic staff for outstanding career achievements in teaching. Lockhart was presented to the award committee as an exemplary teacher and prolific scholar, whose philosophy of education places an emphasis on mentoring and motivating students to actively engage in their learning, to grow intellectually and to understand the interconnectedness of knowledge across disciplines.

During his 29 years of service to UW-Eau Claire, Lockhart has taught nearly every physics course offered. He has developed University Honors courses and has served on the Honors Council for several years. He is described as excelling in bringing the real world into the lab and "allowing students to discover the joy of discovery" and as a "wonderfully creative and gifted professor who cares deeply about his students."

Student evaluations consistently note Lockhart's dedication and compassion, and typical comments refer to his ability to present material in an exciting manner. Several of Lockhart's former students are now university professors themselves and give credit to Lockhart for his insightful and inspiring teaching. One such nomination cited Lockhart's demonstrations, examples and anecdotes as being of extreme importance "in a field where it is far too easy to become bogged down by equations and mathematical manipulations."

Lockhart is known as the physics and astronomy department's leader in the incorporation of computer enhancements to laboratory course experiments. He encourages and assists in the pedagogical development of the faculty members around him, sharing newly designed and innovative lecture demonstration and simulations with his colleagues. Lockhart has been the major driving force behind every recent laboratory modernization grant to update the department's data collection methods, and as a result, student experience real-world computer applications starting with their first major lab course.

"I have found Dr. Lockhart to be an exceptional colleague, representing the very best characteristics of an exceptional academic department (which he played a major role in shaping): leadership, generosity of time and effort to help fellow colleagues, inventiveness and enthusiasm for new ideas in pedagogy," said Dr. J. Erik Hendrickson, former chair of the department. "And most of all, exemplifying in his day-to-day work with students that physics is fun."

Justin Patchin
Justin Patchin

Patchin received the Excellence in Scholarship Award. Since joining UW-Eau Claire's political science faculty in 2004, Patchin has established a national and international reputation for his groundbreaking scholarship in the field of criminal justice and is co-founder and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. He has published 15 peer-reviewed articles, presented at 28 conferences and published two books. His second book, "Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard," was named Educator Book of the Year by ForeWord Reviews in 2009.

According to Dr. Randall Beger, professor of political science and criminal justice program coordinator at UW-Eau Claire, Patchin is the most productive scholar he has worked with and said "Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard" has become "the master reference text for researchers, educators, law enforcement professionals and parents concerned with bullying through the use of technology."

Nancy Willard, executive director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use in Eugene, Ore., said Patchin's outreach to the law enforcement community is "most welcome."

"Dr. Patchin has established a stellar reputation in an emerging field of study. He and his partner, Dr. Sameer Hinduja, have established a gold standard for attention to the nuances and the need for careful balance in the investigation of these issues," Willard said.

Patchin has co-authored eight research papers, presented at regional and national criminal justice meetings with UW-Eau Claire students and has secured more than $42,000 in grant awards to support a growing number of students to assist with his ongoing research projects. He has served as a visiting scholar to the FBI and recently participated in a select panel of researchers who shared information and discussed effective policies and programs at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention.

Alan Rieck
Alan Rieck

Rieck received the Excellence in Teaching Award. He joined the UW-Eau Claire faculty in 2001 and conducts the Women's Concert Chorale and Symphonic Choir. According to colleagues, Rieck is appreciated by students for taking an active role in their advising. He is a member of the university's Orientation Committee and is known for preparing music students well for what they will experience in college music courses.

"I am not surprised that Alan has received this award. He is able to relate content to students with thoughtful expertise and in an innovative, meaningful and motivating way," said Dr. Vanissa Murphy, professor and chair of the music and theatre arts department. "He is a wonderful mentor to his students."

Prior to his appointment at UW-Eau Claire, Rieck served as assistant director of choral studies and professor of music education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. He is a member of the American Choral Director's Association, the Wisconsin Music Educator's Council and the Wisconsin Collegiate Music Educators Council.

Linda Spaeth
Linda Spaeth

Linda Spaeth received the Excellence in Performance Award for Administrative and Professional Academic Staff. Spaeth has worked in the Academic Skills Center at UW-Eau Claire since 1980. She started as a reading/study skills specialist and has gone on to hold several other positions and perform a variety of duties.

Throughout her career Spaeth has hired and trained students as supplemental instruction leaders, peer tutors and student mentors, and as a result has provided academic support to all levels of students who seek assistance in the center. As director of the Collegiate Bridge Program she has been recognized for outstanding leadership and has been regarded as "a tireless promoter of student success." A high rate of retention and graduation rates of students in the program have been attributed to her perseverance and advocacy.

In addition to her role in serving students directly, Spaeth participates on many campus committees, helps with orientation, serves on the Parent Relations Advisory Group and has chaired or contributed to the work of numerous task forces and advisory committees related to student success and retention.

Spaeth currently is vice chair of the University Senate and has served on several Senate committees, including six years on the Executive Committee. She is a founding member of the Wisconsin Learning Assistance Network, which assists and supports learning assistance professionals in the state, and has helped to secure student scholarships in her role as chair of the P.E.O. Scholarship Committee.

Spaeth has served on the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association board of directors and has been a member of the American Association of University Women since 2007. As a member of the Women in Higher Education-Eau Claire chapter, Spaeth has served in leadership and mentoring roles. Since 1995 she has regularly participated in the UW-System's academic staff leadership conference.

According to nomination letters, Spaeth is a recognized expert in the area of college reading and study strategies and has "an authentic and heartfelt vision" for the ongoing development of students and the quality of the program evolving to best meet their needs.

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RD/DW

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