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WIU Provost's Award of Excellence recipients Greg Baldi of WIU Political Science (Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus), Emily Shupe of Department of Kinesiology - Western Illinois University (Excellence in University/Community Service), Andrea Riebling of WIU College of Business & Technology Advising Center (Academic Adviser of the Year), Jeremy Robinett of WIU Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration (Excellence in Multicultural Teaching), Anita Hardeman of Western Illinois University School of Music (Excellence in Teaching), James Olsen of the Mathematics & Philosophy Department at WIU (Excellence in Teaching with Technology). Not pictured, James Romig of the Western Illinois University School of Music (Excellence in Scholarly, Creative, Performance, Professional Activities).
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Provost's Awards of Excellence Winners Announced

October 17, 2019


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MACOMB, IL – Six Western Illinois University faculty members and one academic adviser have been named the 2019 Provost's Award of Excellence winners. The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR) at WIU organized six-member committees charged with evaluating excellence in each of the determined areas.

"It's a great privilege to present the Provost's Awards of Excellence to our faculty and staff who give so much, both in the classroom and outside of class, to our students. They really do go above and beyond to provide our students with an incredible academic experience," said Interim Provost Billy Clow.

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching: Anita Hardeman, School of Music.

The selection committee noted: "On a campus that values teaching and learning, Dr. Anita Hardeman from the School of Music stands out for her student-centered approach to learning and the impact she has had on her students. She teaches general education students, music majors, and graduate students, and in all her courses she encourages student learning through innovative teaching that seeks to meet the needs of her students while maintaining academic rigor. Her Music 390 course (European Art Music I), covers music history up to 1750 and thus exposes students to music that is completely unfamiliar to many of them. To address this challenge, she relies heavily on active learning because, as Dr. Hardeman notes, 'students respond better when they share the responsibility for their learning.' In this class, students regularly work in small groups and learn from each other as well as from the instructor. Dr. Hardeman also encourages student learning outside the formal classroom. She regularly supervised in-course honors projects and numerous independent study students, in addition to serving on thesis committees. She took students to a national music conference, as well as mentored students who presented at undergraduate and graduate research conferences on campus. Students respond positively to Dr. Hardeman and clearly value her as a teacher. Her commitment to students is best summarized by a former student who wrote a letter of support for Dr. Hardeman, saying 'I am overwhelmed by the effort Dr. Hardeman makes to help me reach my full potential. She possesses an extraordinary ability to create a non-judgmental learning environment where students feel their thoughts and opinions are valued … she is a dedicated teacher who has made a significant difference in my life.'"

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus: Greg Baldi, Political Science

The selection committee said: "Over the three year period that ended in Summer 2018, Dr. Baldi demonstrated a breadth of excellence in teaching and conducting research abroad, as well as cultivating international aspects to his teaching at Western. As a specialist in the politics and government of Western Europe, he taught four undergraduate courses - international relations, comparative politics, European politics, and genocide - that exposed students to the successes and failures of Europeans' government of themselves and of others. Dr. Baldi also was active in graduate student teaching. He supervised or assisted the supervision of students doing research on topics including maternal health policies in Nigeria, European countries' responses to refugees, and the civil war in Syria. Dr. Baldi authored or co-authored peer-reviewed articles for the journals, 'West European Politics' and 'German Politics and Society.' He was selected through a competitive process to participate in a scholarly workshop at Germany's University of Konstanz, where he presented research on the post-World War II education systems of Britain and Germany. Dr. Baldi's research on that topic is the basis of his book manuscript, currently under review with Cambridge University Press. In Spring 2018, the U.S. Fulbright Commission recognized his scholarly expertise with its prestigious Research Award to conduct research at the Scottish National Library in Edinburgh, Scotland. During his tenure at Edinburgh, Dr. Baldi had the unique opportunity to moderate a discussion by former Scottish National Party leaders, a testimony not only to his erudition, but ear for foreign dialect. The roundtable was recorded and is being made available on the national library's website."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in University/Community Service: Emily Shupe, Kinesiology.

The selection committee remarked: "An Associate Professor of Dietetics in her 14th year at WIU, Dr. Shupe has brought her classroom expertise to bear on the 'real world' issues of food insecurity and hunger while engaging her students to show empathy through realizing opportunities for community service. She has served as the adviser to three student organizations in recent years, including the Student Association for Nutrition Education (SANE), the Food and Culture Club (FCC) and the WIU Food Pantry, and was a driving force in the creation of the Food Pantry after leading her students to survey the University community and identifying profound need. Dr. Shupe has been a leader in organizing and mentoring students to run the Food Pantry, while gathering resources, developing community partnerships and collaborating with others to serve approximately 100 weekly participants with thousands of pounds of food each month. A registered dietician, her active engagement with her students has brought nutrition education to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Fit4Kids Hy-Vee events, the Macomb Park District, athletic groups at local schools and children with special needs. Dr. Shupe has incorporated community activities within the classroom as her students prepare and present nutrition lessons to children at Lincoln Elementary and to senior citizens at meal delivery sites. In addition to her active community involvement, she has served on numerous University, college and departmental committees working on areas as diverse as the Honors Council, assisting faculty/staff with technology and organizing students to appear in departmental recruitment videos. She has contributed research and publications at national and international levels, including presentations in the United States and Europe on menu labeling and workplace wellness."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching with Technology: James Olsen, Mathematics and Philosophy.

According to the selection committee: "Mathematical learning and knowledge go beyond the numbers; it is a philosophy in and of itself. Dr. Olsen expresses this idea with three elemental principles, a focus on student learning, an understanding of the role and purpose of concept and procedure and the use of methods and technologies that generate cognitive change. Learning is a change in knowledge or behavior that happens within the student. To foster this development, Dr. Olsen takes a logical approach for using technology to engage students in the learning process. He approaches learning with several strategies, including understanding mathematics requires skill in problem-solving and the ability to understand math in terms of real-world applications. For example, Dr. Olsen uses the Desmos graphic calculator, a free tool for performing algebraic processing, so students can make real-world predictions including how outcomes can vary as data changes. His teaching offers multiple visual representations of mathematical problems to accommodate individual learning styles, and a variety of ways for students to become proficient through integrated and dispersed practice. In Dr. Olsen's courses, technology is as much a facilitator of cognition as it is a digital tool for explaining and performing calculations. He uses online quiz technology to provide students immediate feedback and repeat opportunities which give learners additional practice so procedures are rehearsed over time and steadily become more fluid. Learning technologies in Dr. Olsen's courses include electronic homework, quizzes and visualizations designed to foster understanding and clarity. Combining electronic and print based homework improves student understanding and improves their course grade.
Dr. Olsen supports his teaching by securing grants to increase technical resources for mathematics, such as a grant for iPads, and he also leverages these resources to enhance outreach programs such as the mathematics colloquia and Girls Plus Math camp and to support classroom experience for teacher education students."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performance/Professional Activities: James Romig, School of Music.

The selection committee stated: "Dr. James Romig uses music, specifically composition of music, as a way to connect with and enrich the world around him. He has succeeded at local, national and international scale. Most notably his composition for solo piano, 'Still,' was recognized as one of two finalists for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music. This composition, which was inspired by the paintings of Clyfford Still and commissioned by five pianists and the Clyfford Still Museum, was released as a CD by New World Records, the premier publisher of recordings of American music. This composition is just one part of an outstanding record by Dr. Romig during the 2015-2018 review period. He has a total of nine new works, all commissioned by various performers, ensembles, and organizations and five CDs released. As a composer of mostly acoustic music, he depends on ensembles and performers to present his work to audiences. This is equivalent in many ways to citations of scholarly work in other disciplines. During the review period, there were more than 150 documented performances of his original compositions, including performances in five different countries and 33 different U.S. states. The works performed include a wide range of pieces for everything from solo instruments to duos to small ensembles to orchestras. Thirteen of these performances were at conferences and festivals where jury-selected pieces are performed for a technically specialized audience; a marked indication of the high level of recognition and respect for Dr. Romig's compositions.
In addition to new compositions and the many performances of his work during the review period, he has been a guest composer at colleges and universities locally and nationwide. Two artist residencies during the review period provided longer term opportunities to work on creative projects. He has also been invited to be a guest co-editor for an issue of the scholarly journal 'Perspectives of New Music' in honor of Pulitzer Prize-winning American Composer Charles Wuorinen."

Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Multicultural Teaching: Jeremy Robinett, Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration.

The selection committee acknowledged: "Dr. Robinett embraces the belief that learning is a dynamic process that results in the gaining and sharing of purposeful knowledge among individuals who can make significant contributions to the world we live in. He creates opportunities that help learners develop a deep understanding of both his subject discipline and life knowledge. As a coach, tutor, advisor, teacher and researcher, Dr. Robinett creates learning and life spaces that empower people, and where biases can be examined and better understood. More importantly, he facilitates learning experiences that break down boundaries, thereby allowing students to develop a more inclusive view of life and the society they live in. He fosters multicultural awareness and a sense of the importance of cultural competency in all areas of professional practice in, and beyond, the classroom. He helps students cultivate cultural competency, providing them with the tools to analyze the complexities of multiculturalism, and helping them develop a mindset for deep thought about the subject. Dr. Robinett's learning explorations are often based in these universal aspects of culture. He uses stories to build appreciation and value of personal experiences and the experiences of others, and readings of traditional textbooks are expanded to fill in and integrate knowledge of underrepresented cultural groups that are often excluded in mainstream texts. His teaching involves guiding students through real world experiences exploring individual and cultural differences, and through comparison and contrasts of shared connections. Whether the focus is on age, gender, ethnicity, identity or economic differences, Dr. Robinett's teaching stresses the commonalities and remarkability of human existence. His advocacy is embodied in his work on campus, in the community and at the national level, including such outreach efforts as presenting about diversity, serving as a faculty liaison for military service students, coaching athletes at the Special Olympics, advising a Greek social fraternity and serving as a member of the Advancement Team Board of the Center for Youth and Family Solutions."


Outstanding Academic Advisor: Andrea Riebling, College of Business and Technology Advising Center
Centennial Honors College

According to the selection committee: "Andrea Riebling, who started her academic advising career with the College of Business and Technology in 2009, demonstrates excellent caseload management. She advises a more than 200 students who are pursing one of nine business majors. Ms. Riebling has an approximate 90 percent retention rate, and works closely with department chairs to resolve enrollment management challenges. A nontraditional student advisee noted, 'I came to Andrea in need of a degree plan that would prepare me to be a Certified Financial Planner. She was unsure so she called Dr. Woodruff, accountancy chair. We were able to establish my degree plan in our very first appointment because she used all of her resources wisely.' Another student said, 'I had changed my major for the third time and Andrea helped me discover an option I hadn't considered: Supply Chain Management. I had no idea that I would end up falling in love with the field. I found my future career!' According to her colleagues, 'I rely heavily on Ms. Riebling's advice in setting schedules and maximum course enrollments to ensure program deliverability. Her input has an impact on students' graduation rates, and as a parent, I witnessed her prompt responses to his inquiries. I know the relationship Andrea maintains with my son and all of her advisees is based on wishing to help students rise to their potential."

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations