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CMU faculty awards 2018

Celebrating faculty excellence

Several faculty members are being recognized for outstanding teaching and service

Contact: ​Jeff Johnston


​Central Michigan University will recognize 11 faculty members for outstanding research, teaching and scholarship at the 2018 Faculty Excellence Exhibition. The awards include the President's Award and Provost's Award, the Lorrie Ryan Memorial Teaching Award, the Excellence in Teaching Awards, the Student Choice Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Faculty Distinguished Service Award.

The 2018 Faculty Excellence Exhibition took place Thursday, March 22, in the Bovee University Center Rotunda.

President's Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity

The President's Award was created to allow peers to select and recognize outstanding senior faculty members for scholarship of national and international merit. This year's recipients:

Adam Epstein, finance and law: Epstein is an internationally recognized educator of legal studies with a concentration in sports law. He is the author of four law textbooks, including two on sports law, and more than 60 scholarly articles, and he has served as an editor or reviewer on several law journals. His work has impact beyond academia and was cited by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the 2016 case of Berger v. NCAA.

Epstein has received several recognitions within CMU, including the CMU Excellence in Teaching Award, AT&T Teaching Award for Innovation/Excellence in Teaching and the College of Business Administration's Dean's Teaching Award. His colleagues describe him as a prolific author whose work stands at the pinnacle of sports law.

Anna Monfils, biology: Monfils is one of the forefront researchers of plant biodiversity and invasive species within the Great Lakes region. Since 2012, Monfils has received grants totaling almost $2.2 million as a principal investigator or co-principle investigator. She has co-authored 19 publications, several with CMU students under her mentorship.

In her capacity as director of the CMU Herbarium, Monfils has fully digitized the CMU plant collections; increased the profile of natural history collections for research, education and outreach; and advanced national efforts to increase biodiversity data literacy skills in undergraduate education. 

Monfils was a co-director of CMU's Biology Undergraduate Mentoring Program and leads two National Science Foundation grants to broaden participation within the biodiversity and botanical sciences.

She has received the CMU Excellence in Teaching Award and both the Outstanding Teaching and Outstanding Service awards from the College of Science and Engineering. A colleague commented, "The breadth of her work, combined with expertise in taxonomy, plant biology, study design, data management and most importantly the ability to bridge the gap between academic research and natural resource management, has quickly made Dr. Monfils a leader in this field." 

Provost's Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity

This honor was created to allow peers to select and recognize accomplished up-and-coming faculty members for scholarship of national and international merit. This year's recipients:

Spenser J. Robinson, entrepreneurship and finance and law: Robinson has developed a reputation internationally as a leader in sustainable real estate research, studying subjects such as sustainability in commercial office and multifamily housing. His research has been published in leading journals and has been selected for numerous juried conference awards, including six awards for best manuscript and five for industry relevant research.

He serves as research committee chair and is on the executive board for the American Real Estate Society. He is an editor of two journals. He was selected by his peers in 2017 for the AT&T Teaching Award for Innovation/Excellence in Teaching. He's praised by his colleagues for his scholarship over the short academic tenure he's had.

Xantha Karp, biology: Karp represents a new generation of developmental biology researchers and has found international recognition for her research into microRNA biology with the C. elegans roundworm.  She has published 14 articles over the course of her academic career and has received more than $1 million in grants since joining CMU in 2012.

She has dedicated herself to mentoring and has co-published papers with several CMU students. A colleague describes her research as the founding texts of her field, saying "many questions remain to be answered, but they will all start from this point."

Faculty Distinguished Service Award

Created by the provost in 2002, the award recognizes faculty members with a record of sustained and distinguished service at CMU. This year's recipient:

Jim McDonald III, teacher education and professional development: McDonald has served an important role offering scientific learning opportunities to CMU and surrounding local communities. He has spearheaded several education initiatives including the Great Explorations in Math and Science Center and the elementary student-oriented Family Science Nights.

He has served on and chaired numerous university committees, including a five-year leadership term in Academic Senate, and is active in the greater regional community in various capacities, including acting as the current president of the Council for Elementary Science International.

Lorrie Ryan Memorial Excellence in Teaching Award

This award is given each year to a faculty member who inspires students through exemplary commitment to community service and demonstrates a profound mentorship and respect for others. This year's recipient:

Thomas Kozal, health sciences: One student described the way Kozal helped unite his class: "The way in which Professor Kozal organized the course made each student feel like an important member of the learning community. He gave us opportunities to laugh together as well as have challenging conversations, which helped us create a strong bond within our class."

Excellence in Teaching Awards

These awards were created by Academic Senate to provide special recognition to faculty members who exceed the usual standards and expectations. This year's recipients:

Cheryl Geisthardt, human environmental studies: Geisthardt views teaching as an instrument for students to be able to apply what they learn in classes to make positive contributions to society. Her teaching is lauded by the students and colleagues for interactivity, personalization and real-world impact.

Steven Gorsich, biology: Gorsich uses a teaching philosophy of team-based learning to encourage students to become "citizens of the classroom." One colleague described his enthusiasm for teaching as "infectious and inspiring on a daily basis."

Karen Grossnickle, physical therapy: Grossnickle seeks to nurture her student's critical reasoning strategies and decision-making skills through assignments and real-world scenarios. "She exemplifies being a lifelong learner," one student said. "She continuously seeks to become a better educator, and she frequently implements research and evidence-driven teaching practices and strategies in her classroom."

Roop Jayaraman, health sciences: Jayaraman has earned the reputation as a challenging instructor for his belief that teaching is both a privilege and responsibility. "Average is not in his vocabulary," one student said, describing Jayaraman's high standards. "He expects the best out of his students."

Thomas Kozal, health sciences: Kozal seeks to inspire his students and believes "educators should always take the time to inspire our next generation." His students describe him as an authentic, kindhearted teacher with high expectations.

Student Choice Award for Excellence in Teaching

This award allows students to express appreciation to their professors and recognize a faculty member for creative excellence in overall instructional effectiveness. This year's recipient:

Richard L. Hayes, master of science in administration degree: One student described Hayes as a one-of-a-kind professor: "He always has real-world, relatable examples for his class topics. He is always accessible for his students around the clock. He inspires his students and faculty to become more involved on campus and encourages students in class to get to know each other. Overall, he is an awesome human being."


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