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UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff receive 2018 excellence awards

Eight University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty and staff members were recognized for excellence during the university's academic year opening meeting Aug. 22.

Chancellor James Schmidt presented 2018 excellence awards to:

  • Lt. Jay Dobson, UW-Eau Claire Police.
  • Dr. Jeffrey Goodman, director of undergraduate studies and associate professor of psychology.
  • Dr. Martina Lindseth, professor of German.
  • Dr. Karen Mumford, director and associate professor, Watershed Institute.
  • Dr. David Shih, professor of English.
  • Chief David Sprick, UW-Eau Claire Police.
  • Dr. J. Todd Stephens, professor of special education.
  • Dr. Evan Weiher, professor of biology.

Each honoree received a university medallion and $1,500. All seven of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation excellence awards for faculty and staff are funded by Markquart Motors and Markquart Toyota of Eau Claire. The 2018 UW System Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award nominee is funded by the Arnold and Lois Domer Foundation of Eau Claire.

Lt. Jay Dobson

Lt. Jay Dobson

Lieutenant Jay Dobson received the Excellence in Performance Award for University Staff. Nominators commended Dobson for his high level of professionalism in meeting his diverse responsibilities over his 22 years serving in the UW-Eau Claire Police Department.

Dobson, nominators said, has been exceptional in his work with students in crisis; as a trainer for his fellow officers, colleagues across campus and future police officers; as a UW-Eau Claire liaison with other area police agencies and government units; on the University Staff Council and on campus administrator search committees; and, through his own initiative, as his department's budget and grant-writing expert.

"As a leader, Jay is confident, effective, trustworthy and personable, whether performing his supervisory duties or assisting officers on cases," said David Sprick, chief of the UW-Eau Claire Police Department and one of Dobson's nominators. "He has earned the respect and confidence of everyone in the department by keeping his police skills sharp, exercising sound judgment in decision-making, maintaining poise under pressure, and setting high standards for performance and productivity."

Jeffrey Goodman

Dr. Jeffrey Goodman

Dr. Jeffrey Goodman, associate professor of psychology, received the Excellence in Service Award. Nominators commended Goodman, a UW-Eau Claire faculty member since 2008, for his extensive and excellent service both in the psychology department and in support of many other campus and community initiatives.

Colleagues noted that Jeff’s multifaceted service is seen in his inspired teaching, his roles as a dedicated student advisor and new faculty mentor, and his contributions as a highly skilled statistician in support of many campus initiatives (such as the university’s Campus Climate Survey, Honors Data Project and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Implementation Team). He also is sought after as an EDI educator on campus and in the community for his effectively constructed presentations that promote greater understanding and self-awareness.

Dr. Melissa Bonstead-Bruns, professor of sociology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, was one of Goodman’s nominators. She worked with Goodman when they were both members of the Campus Climate Survey team, EDI Fellows and EDI Implementation Team co-chairs.

“I have great admiration and respect for Jeff,” Bonstead-Bruns said. “I see Jeff as the consummate scholar, a fearless advocate for students, and a dedicated activist with a passion for improving the world around him.”

Dr. Martina Lindseth

Dr. Martina Lindseth

Dr. Martina Lindseth, professor of German, was honored as UW-Eau Claire’s 2018 UW System Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award nominee and recipient. The award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in teaching, is the UW System's highest recognition for members of its faculty and academic staff. Each year just two UW System faculty or academic staff members receive the $5,000 awards.

Teaching Excellence Award recipients are selected for their strong commitment to teaching and learning, use of effective teaching strategies to enhance student learning, and significant impact on students’ intellectual development.

Lindseth, who joined UW-Eau Claire's faculty in 1998, was described by her nominators as an extraordinary teacher who deeply values learning.

"There are many excellent professors, but there are only a few truly exceptional teachers who positively impact so many students,” Provost Patricia A. Kleine said in recommending Lindseth for the Board of Regents award. “Dr. Lindseth is one of those exceptional educators. During her career at UW-Eau Claire, Dr. Lindseth has set the standard for teaching excellence by demonstrating a deep commitment to student learning and the use of innovative pedagogical practices, generously sharing her expertise with her peers, and having a profound impact on students both inside and outside the classroom."

Karen Mumford, PhD

Dr. Karen Mumford

Dr. Karen Mumford, associate professor and director of UW-Eau Claire’s Watershed Institute, received the Excellence in Advising Award. Recipients of this award are chosen through a selection process of the Student Senate that includes nominations from current students.

Mumford, who joined the Watershed Institute faculty in 2011, advises around 50 students each semester who are enrolled in the institute’s programs. She is credited with substantially impacting students’ academic and career paths, in part by integrating them into sustainability planning processes with key decision makers on campus and in the community. Mumford also supports advisees in extending their studies in new directions.

“The common theme is her untiring support of students seeking to following their passions — what higher education can be at its best,” said Dr. James Boulter, professor of chemistry and Mumford’s colleague in the Watershed Institute.

“Dr. Karen Mumford has been an exceptional advisor throughout my academic career,” wrote one of Mumford’s advisees. “She has empowered students interested in sustainability to pursue their passions, and she has gone above and beyond to ensure students succeed."

David Shih

Dr. David Shih

Dr. David Shih, associate professor of English, received UW-Eau Claire’s inaugural Excellence in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award. Shih, who joined UW-Eau Claire in 1999, was recognized by his nominators as an exceptional leader in promoting equity, diversity and inclusion efforts on campus, across the UW System, in the community and beyond by initiating new programs, communicating with diverse groups, and laying groundwork for and supporting the EDI plan.

"David's work with EDI on this campus has changed my life, teaching, scholarship and advising, and I know for a fact that so many of our students, colleagues and community members have also experienced how he 'enhances inclusion through positive communication between persons of different backgrounds,' said Dr. Joel Pace, professor of English and one of Shih's nominators. "Within minutes of meeting him, he taught me something about my area of expertise that I did not know and empowered me to place EDI at the center of my scholarship and pedagogy, where it has remained ever since. It is this selfless commitment to EDI, to spreading its important messages, and to teaching his students and colleagues to do the same that typify his career at UW-Eau Claire from the very moment he set foot on campus right up to the present."

Beyond the campus, Shih’s efforts to end racism and other forms of bias include presentations across the region, state and nation, as well as richly researched and insightful posts both on his personal blog and for Stanford University’s “Arcade.”

In the words of Mai Neng Vang, a 2013 UW-Eau Claire graduate and another of Shih’s nominators, “David’s presence and involvement on campus continues to enrich the campus community and to remind us of what an exemplary social justice educator looks like.”

David Sprick

Chief David Sprick

UW-Eau Claire Police Chief David Sprick received the Administrative and Professional Academic Staff Excellence in Performance Award. Sprick began his UW-Eau Claire career 34 years ago as a university police officer, rose through the ranks and was named chief in 2005 — a role in which his nominators say he has established a model for university policing.

In his many responsibilities as chief, Sprick’s nominators said he is guided by an overarching belief that ensuring campus safety fosters a favorable living, learning and working environment. He also focuses on the role of his department in helping the university meet its student retention and EDI goals, and has initiated programming and trainings to assist in making our campus one where all feel accepted and safe.

"Chief Sprick's professionalism and ability to foster positive relationships enable him to be an effective leader within and outside the university community," wrote Chief Gerald Staniszewski of the Eau Claire Police Department, one of Sprick’s nominators. "He is looked at as a pillar in the law enforcement community and embodies the core values of honesty, integrity, dignity, respect and professionalism."

Another of Sprick’s nominators, Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, said he “demonstrates in his work, actions and attitude that he recognizes and supports the vital role of very person, every office in the transformation of students’ lives. I value Chief Sprick as a colleague who is making UW-Eau Claire a stronger and better university.”

Dr. Todd Stephens

Dr. Todd Stephens

Dr. Todd Stephens, professor of special education, received the Excellence in Teaching Award. A UW-Eau Claire faculty member since 1997, Stephens was recognized by former students for his passion in teaching future special education educators and the real-life experiences he brings to the classroom.

“Professor Stephens was openly passionate about his teaching career, and the world of special education,” said Freesia Krogstad, a 2017 UW-Eau Claire graduate and one of Stephens’ nominators. “The experiences he brought into the classroom were unmatched. He discussed with his students the stigmas surrounding those with individualized needs, and sought to humanize people above anything else. Professor Stephens had high expectations of us as students and as future educators, and it was a privilege to be his student. The lessons I've learned have aided me in becoming a better teacher and person.”

Dr. Cathy Thorsen, associate professor and chair of the special education department, noted that Stephens is a charismatic and engaging teacher and an active recruiter of students in his introductory courses into special education.

“He is student centered and very knowledgeable and passionate about teaching future educators how to meet the varied needs of individual students with disabilities and their families,” Thorsen said.

Dr. Evan Weiher

Dr. Evan Weiher

Dr. Evan Weiher received the Excellence in Scholarship Award. Recipients of this award are nominated by their peers. Weiher, a member of UW-Eau Claire’s faculty since 1999, is respected internationally as an expert in plant community ecology and “is among the most original and productive scholars in our department,” said nominator Dr. Tali Lee, professor of biology.

“Evan is among the most original and insightful scholars I have known in my career as an ecologist,” said nominator Dr. Todd Wellnitz, professor of biology. “He regularly publishes papers in top-tier journals, has co-edited a very influential book, and has received major funding from the National Science Foundation. His ideas are widely discussed in scientific circles and he has the distinction of being a ‘name’ in the field.”

Weiher’s work — which has involved 43 undergraduate student researchers in the last five years alone — has resulted in 11 publications in peer-reviewed journals since 2011 and a published book on which he was co-author. His many invitations to speak at conferences, symposia and colloquia around the world bear witness to his continued and prominent influence in his field.

“Much of our department strength in ecology is due to Dr. Weiher’s contributions,” Lee said. “We consider him an extraordinary teacher-scholar who is a major asset to our university.”

Top photo caption: UW-Eau Claire's 2018 Faculty/Staff Excellence Award recipients are (from left) Dr. Jeffrey Goodman, Dr. David Shih, Lt. Jay Dobson, Dr. Todd Stephens, Chief David Sprick, Dr. Karen Mumford, Dr. Evan Weir and Dr. Martina Lindseth.