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Thursday, May 13, 2021

2018 Faculty Senate Awards

By Drew Stuart

The 2018 Provost and Faculty Senate Spring Awards Ceremony honored teachers from various colleges at Western for their excellence in teaching, research and more.

The event started at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 26. Most of the guests were friends of the honored teachers and faculty members at Western.

Many of the honorees attributed their success to their students, and thanked the university for continuing to be a productive environment for both teaching and research.

Sabrina Freeman, an instructor in Western’s sociology department, said spring is one of the busiest times of the academic year for teachers, and any break from their work is appreciated.

Senate President Allison Giffen and Provost Brent Carbajal began the official ceremony in the Wilson Library Reading Room.

Professors from many of Western’s colleges were honored with awards.

Music professor Patricia Bourne received the Outstanding Faculty Member Award, and the Ronald Kleinknecht Excellence in Teaching Award went to Nancy Pagh from the English department.

According to the Office of the Provost, Excellence in Teaching awards are decided through nominations from students, faculty, alumni and staff. As a bonus, each teacher that receives an award also receives a $1,000 check.

Eric Wehrly received the Excellence in Teaching Award. Wehrly was not available to receive his award in person, but had a friend receive it on his behalf.

After the awards ceremony, Western’s faculty conversed and socialized with the honorees and the fellow professors.

Craig Moyer, recipient of the Paul J. Olscamp Research Award, said that none of this would be possible on his own.

“I’ve been really fortunate to have some really good students,” Moyer said. “We’ve gotten some of their master’s theses published in some very reputable journals in the last few years.”

Giffen said Moyer received his award for research for his involvement in the discovery of a new bacteria known as Zetaproteobacteria near hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Moyer specializes in marine microbial ecology and operates out of Western’s biology department.

“I feel especially humbled by the whole experience,” Moyer said.

Several other honorees echoed Moyer’s thoughts on how important students are to their teaching and research.

John Rybczyk, who received the Outstanding Scholarship Award for his work in the environmental sciences department, said his success was tied to his students.

“I’ve got a great lab,” Rybczyk said. “Good graduate students, good undergraduate students working for me. That’s the key.”

Rybczyk also attributed his success to Western, citing how its focus on undergraduates and supporting teachers makes it a strong academic environment.

“There are people who come here that could work anywhere in the world, and they choose to work here because it’s a good school,” Rybczyk said.

The official ceremony was brief, lasting 20 minutes, but many faculty members stuck around to talk with their colleagues.

Near the end of the event, Stephen Emory, chemistry professor and recipient of the Peter J. Elich Excellence in Teaching Award, had only good things to say about his time at Western.

“I really can’t think of a better place to spend my career,” Emory said.

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