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Faculty honored for excellence in teaching, research, mentorship

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Honoree Elsi Vassdal Ellis (center), a Western professor of design, is given the Outstanding Scholarship Award for 2015-2016 by Western's vice president for academic affairs, Brent Carbajal (left), and Western's faculty senate president, Molly Ware (right), on Thursday, April 28 during the Spring Awards Ceremony at the Western Galleries. // Photo by Nic Ulmer
Western honored six faculty members during the Spring Awards Ceremony for their accomplishments and contributions to the college community. Janelle Leger, Elsi Vassdal Ellis, Brooke Love, Bernie Housen, Kristi Lemm and Heather Davidson were each individually recognized on Thursday, April 28, at the Western Gallery with more than 100 students, faculty and friends present. Faculty Senate President Molly Ware spoke at the ceremony and described the importance behind the annual awards ceremony. “This is a great opportunity for us as a campus to take in what has been accomplished by these folks and it’s sort of a catalyst,” Ware said. “These folks have stepped into really great work that can inspire all of us to step into that more fully.”

Housen received this year’s Paul J. Olscamp Research Award for his studies on rock deformation, plate motions, radar studies of cemeteries and particulate matter pollution. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences from the University of Washington in 1988, followed by a Master of Science and a doctorate in geological sciences from the University of Michigan in 1990 and 1994.

“I look forward to continuing to grow and develop as a teacher.”

Heather Davidson

“[This award] is a really nice recognition of a body of research that I’ve been able to do with students and different colleagues over the years since I’ve been at Western,” Housen said. Davidson is a two-time alumna of Western who received her Master of Education in adult and higher education in 2012. She has only been teaching at Western for two years and received the Ronald Kleinknecht Excellence in Teaching Award during the ceremony. “To receive this award at this point in my teaching career indicates that I have found the right path,” Davidson said. “I look forward to continuing to grow and develop as a teacher.” Davidson’s family members, including her oldest son Knight Davidson, attended the ceremony. “I see her students all the time and I’ve had roommates who were her students,” Knight Davidson said. “They all love her, but one of her biggest talents is her community outreach. She touches the community and people see her as someone they look up to as a friend, not as a teacher.” Leger, a physics professor, received her doctorate from the University of California and was a National Science Foundation Discovery Corps Postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington Department of Chemistry. She has mentored over 30 undergraduate research students since joining Western in 2008. Vassdal Ellis received the Outstanding Scholarship Award. She earned her doctorate in educational communication and currently teaches digital pre-press, offset and letterpress printing, graphic design history, materials and finishing and book arts. Her colleagues said her books are not only beautiful works of art, but are pioneering and involve substantial research.

“These folks have stepped into really great work that can inspire all of us to step into that more fully.”

Faculty Senate President Molly Ware

Love is this year’s recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award. She currently teaches environmental sciences, helping students develop respect for the complexity of natural and social systems. Love has been teaching at Western since 2009, after earning her doctorate at the University of Washington. Lemm joined the faculty at Western in 2000, after earning a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Columbia University and a Master of Science and doctorate from Yale University.  She was nominated and chosen to received the Peter J. Elich Excellence in Teaching Award. Students, alumni and Western faculty and staff can nominate who they think should be recognized during the 2017 awards ceremony by visiting the provost office page on Western’s website and voting before the end of December.

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