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Seven faculty and staff recognized for excellence

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

Chancellor James Schmidt presented 2016 Excellence Awards to:

  • Dr. Rosemary Battalio, professor of special education.
  • Dr. Mary Canales, professor of nursing.
  • Dr. Anne Cummings Hlas, associate professor of languages.
  • Dr. Eric Kasper, assistant professor of political science.
  • Dr. David Lewis, professor of chemistry.
  • Deborah Newman, associate director of Housing and Residence Life.
  • Greg Rineck, learning spaces coordinator in Learning and Technology Services.

Each honoree received a university medallion and $1,500. All six of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation excellence awards for faculty and staff are funded by Markquart Motors and Markquart Toyota of Eau Claire. The 2016 UW System Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award nominee is funded by the Arnold and Lois Domer Foundation of Eau Claire.

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Dr. Rosemary Battalio

Dr. Rosemary Battalio received the Excellence in Teaching Award. Selection for the honor is based on a survey of recent UW-Eau Claire alumni. This is the second Excellence in Teaching Award for Battalio, who also received the honor in 2004.

Battalio, who joined the UW-Eau Claire faculty in 2000, has taught a variety of special education courses, including “Career Education and Transition,” “Secondary Methods for Students with Mild Disabilities” and “Assessment and Behavior Interventions for Students with Severe Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities,” among others. Battalio also has coordinated a six-week, faculty-led international immersion experience, “Special Education in Scotland,” which has been offered to students every other year since 2005.

“Rose is an amazing teacher and a stellar teacher educator,” said Dr. Carmen Manning, dean of UW-Eau Claire’s College of Education and Human Sciences. “Every day in every class, she provides a model for how to be a caring, compassionate and rigorous teacher. She has taught hundreds of special educators how to be strong teachers and has had a profound influence on the educational experience of thousands of schoolchildren. We are so fortunate to have the passion and leadership of Dr. Rose Battalio in our teacher education program at UW-Eau Claire.”

Battalio recently commented on the rewarding experience of seeing her former students at work as teachers in the classroom.

“It makes your heart just swell and you're just so proud of them,” Battalio said in a UW-Eau Claire video interview. “They're making the world a better place. They are doing what we want them to do and helping kids of this world. I have the best job. I really do have the best job.”

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Dr. Mary Canales

Dr. Mary Canales received the Excellence in Service Award. Canales, who joined UW-Eau Claire’s nursing faculty in 2009, was cited by her nominators for her service to the university and Eau Claire-area communities in the area of food insecurity.

Throughout her career Canales has been committed to food and local justice issues, as well as public health and public policy research. In 2014 she and her research collaborators from Feed My People Food Bank and the Eau Claire County UW-Extension Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program earned a two-year development grant to support research on food insecurity and hunger in Eau Claire County.

“Food is a basic need that is not always met for all of our Chippewa Valley neighbors,” said Patti See, distinguished student services coordinator in UW-Eau Claire’s Academic Skills Center. “Dr. Canales advocates for those who cannot.”

“Mary embodies the UW-Eau Claire definition of ‘excellence in service,’ being involved in initiatives beyond the university which demonstrate responsibility to the broader community,” said Nancy Coffey, program coordinator for UW-Extension’s Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program and one of Canales’ collaborators.

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Dr. Anne Cummings Hlas

Dr. Anne Cummings Hlas was honored as UW-Eau Claire's nominee for the 2016 UW System Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award. Hlas, who joined the UW-Eau Claire languages faculty in 2005, was lauded by her nominators for her dedication to rigor and innovative teaching techniques as well as her ability to inspire students to forge their own paths as educators.

One of her nominators, a foreign language instructor at an area high school who hosts UW-Eau Claire student teachers, noted that Hlas has had a wide-ranging impact on Wisconsin educators.

"At the Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers conference, a group of young foreign language teachers presented their collaborative work to a standing-room only workshop,” said Pamela Larson, Spanish instructor and world languages department chair at North High School in Eau Claire. “These teachers are UWEC graduates, the newest amongst them, Anne's former students. She had encouraged them to bring their work to the state conference and cultivated within them the generosity, excellence and confidence to stand up in front of their colleagues. The conversations about their relevant offerings swirled around the conference the remainder of the day. Anne molds professionals; she is a teacher of teachers."

"Anne Hlas is a caring, extremely skilled and very dedicated educator,” said Dr. Carter Smith, professor of Spanish. “Her commitment to excellence in teaching is evidenced by her respected, focused and collaborative scholarship on language education, her outstanding record of innovation and top-notch pedagogy in the classroom, and her ability to impact her students' intellectual development in and outside of the classroom.”

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Dr. Eric Kasper

Dr. Eric Kasper received the Excellence in Advising Award. The recipient of the advising award is chosen through a selection process of the Student Senate that includes nominations from current students.

Jake Wrasse, a 2016 UW-Eau Claire graduate and former president of the Student Senate, shared his thoughts regarding Kasper’s nomination.

"Eric Kasper routinely takes time out of his schedule to go above and beyond for his advisees — and for students who change their majors to political science,” Wrasse said. “One student in that situation said that Kasper's ability to make switching majors — a stressful and uncertain event in a student's academic career — an easy-to-understand, pain-free experience was remarkable. In addition to his helpful demeanor and attention to detail, Kasper also displays a high degree of excellence in his teaching and in his nationally recognized scholarship.”

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Dr. David Lewis

Dr. David Lewis received the Excellence in Scholarship Award. Lewis joined the UW-Eau Claire chemistry faculty in 1997. He was cited by his nominators as a researcher whose scholarship is characterized by its diversity, which ranges from physical organic chemistry to synthetic organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry to the history and pedagogy of organic chemistry.

Lewis also has mentored more than 50 UW-Eau Claire students, half of whom have gone on to graduate programs. His research has led to 79 journal articles, three book chapters and five books. Lewis has received more than $450,000 in external funding to support his research and holds 20 U.S. patents.

One of Lewis' nominators, who served as a reviewer on the organic chemistry textbook Lewis wrote, shared his thoughts.

"The scholarship and effort that Dr. Lewis put into this work alone deserves great recognition," said Dr. Scott Handy, professor of chemistry and interim associate dean of the College of Graduate Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. "When combined with his other efforts, I feel that he greatly merits the UW-Eau Claire Excellence in Scholarship Award."

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Deborah Newman

Deborah Newman received the Excellence in Performance Award for Administrative and Professional Academic Staff. Newman, who has served since 2004 as UW-Eau Claire’s associate director of Housing and Residence Life, is involved in the development and implementation of all residence life staff functions in the university’s 12 residence halls.

Some of Newman’s many responsibilities include hiring, supervising and training all of UW-Eau Claire’s hall directors, and coordinating the hiring and training of more than 125 resident assistants. She advises the campus Judicial Council, a part of the Housing and Residence Life community conduct system, which aims to assist residents in their educational and personal development. She also serves on the university’s Bias Incidence Response Team, Alcohol Safety Team, Orientation Committee, Service-Learning Advisory Committee and Students of Concern Committee.

Newman’s nominators cited her passion for serving UW-Eau Claire students and for making a solid connection between Housing and Residence Life programming and the academic mission of the university.

“She is unsurpassed in her drive and focus to do a great job on behalf of the students at UW-Eau Claire,” said Quincy Chapman, director of Housing and Residence Life. “When she identifies a need for program improvement or work to be done, she rolls up her sleeves and gets to it.”

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Greg Rineck

Greg Rineck received the Excellence in Performance Award for University Staff. A UW-Eau Claire Learning and Technology Services staff member since 1992, Rineck provides technology support and solutions for faculty, staff and students. Over the past several years, he has been responsible for implementing the digital upgrades for all of major lecture halls and classrooms on campus.

Those who nominated Rineck for the excellence award noted his constant patience and professionalism when interacting with faculty, staff and students — most often under stressful circumstances.

“Greg shows patience and professionalism whenever he has to run into a difficult learning spaces emergency,” said Kent Gerberich, LTS information technology manager. “A majority of these times, there are 50-100 students sitting in a class, and Greg shows great poise in what is sometimes a very difficult situation to handle.”