Honoring outstanding teaching and service

CMU faculty awarded for excellence

Central Michigan University is honoring eight faculty members who set the leadership standard by prioritizing student success, providing rich knowledge-based experiences and nurturing strong connections inside the classroom.

Excellence in Teaching Awards

The Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize outstanding faculty efforts. Awardees are selected from faculty members nominated and supported by their peers and students, who then undergo a rigorous selection process by the awards committee.

Emily K. Bloesch, psychology

BloeschAs an assistant professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences,

Bloesch uses active learning strategies as a way to inspire her students to learn and engage in their studies. Her teaching and passion for what she does is infectious and excites her students to take an active role in classroom participation.

"She inspires her students by leading by example, showing her true excitement and positivity when she is teaching," one student said.

Bloesch believes in her students' potential and their ability to answer their own questions to gain their own knowledge, with the help of her teaching to build those skills and reinforce their confidence.

Caroline S. Gwaltney, physical therapy

GwaltneyGwaltney is an assistant professor and regional clinical coordinator in the physical therapy program in The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. Her humanistic approach to education creates trust and a feeling of inclusiveness in the classroom, and warmth and humor infuse her interactions with both students and colleagues.

A graduate student of Gwaltney's said, "Even years after graduation, I can hear [her] voice in my head, encouraging me to achieve a high level of professional excellence."

Gwaltney holds not only her students, but herself, to a high standard. She's a powerful voice in helping students see that they can collectively change the lives of people for the better.

Alexandra Mascolo-David, piano

Mascolo-DavidWith an unending passion for music, Mascolo-David, a professor of piano in the School of Music in the College of the Arts and Media, inspires those around her every day. Her devotion to the field of music and deep relationships that she creates with students make her a remarkable professor.

"She taught me the value of hard work and discipline and to always be curious and inspired by the world around me," one of her students said.

Mascolo-David also is very passionate about recruiting and supporting international students at CMU.

"I work to enhance and enrich everyone's cultural awareness and reinforce the ideal that we are all unique, worthwhile individuals," she said.

MaryBeth Smith, communication sciences and disorders


Smith is an instructor and clinical supervisor of communication sciences and disorders in The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. Students and peers recognize her enthusiasm, warmth and genuine care for her work as well as those around her.

"She is passionate about presenting cutting-edge, modern course material and molds her students into quality, future clinicians through leading by example," praised a student.

Through her teaching, Smith aims to build rapport through communicative behaviors to reduce anxiety and enhance and develop feelings of a connected classroom environment to promote attachment and positivity. She is an advocate for individuals with disabilities and fosters the teaching of inclusivity and equality for everyone.

Michelle L. Steinhilb, biology

SteinhilbTeaching at all levels, Steinhilb is an associate professor of biology in the College of Science and Engineering. Her classes are designed to engage students by linking materials to situations that impact them.

In addition to lecturing inside the classroom, Steinhilb spends extensive time mentoring her lab students and advising many pre-med students, enabling them to go on to graduate or medical school.

"It often seemed like my professor had more than 24 hours in a day, but truly, connecting and assisting students beyond the classroom was just a priority," one student said about Steinhilb's commitment to her students.

Lorrie Ryan Memorial Excellence in Teaching Award

Ryan was a faculty member in human environmental studies and an awardee of the 2002 Excellence in Teaching Award. This award, established in 2006, is given in her memory each year to a faculty member who inspires students by building a sense of community within the learning environment and demonstrating a profound mentorship and respect for others.

Mark Potts, finance and law

PottsPotts is a finance and law faculty member in the College of Business Administration. His core value of teaching includes fostering a sense of community while creating a welcoming environment to provide a richer experience for students.

"This professor excels at finding ways to make learning exciting and fun," said a student. "Good professors can get their students to come to class, but great professors get their students excited to come to class."

Through engaged teaching and sharing examples from his own life, Potts inspires students to rise above the expectations he sets in the classroom. Not only does he engage students in class, but he also caters to different learning styles to make lessons exciting and interactive.

Student Choice Award

The Student Choice Award allows students to recognize a faculty member for creative excellence in overall instructional effectiveness.

 Bernard J. Kerr Jr., health sciences

KerrKerr is a professor of health administration in the School of Health Sciences within The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. He is committed to creating a sense of shared goals with students.

Through his energizing teaching style and humanistic approach in the classroom he has inspired numerous students. This led to his nomination and award selection by the student committee.

"[His] prioritization of students' needs, detailed and well-developed lessons, and resilience epitomize what it means to be a faculty role model," a member of the student selection committee said.

Faculty Distinguished Service Award

The Faculty Distinguished Service Award recognizes the service faculty members provide because of knowledge of their discipline.

Donna Ericksen, mathematics


In 35 years at CMU as a mathematics faculty member in the College of Science and Engineering, Ericksen has taken on many roles including service on the Academic Senate and the Honors Council. She has served on and chaired more than 30 departmental committees as well as given 17 years of service to the Faculty Association Board of Directors.

Ericksen also led student trips to China and Mexico that allowed students to immerse themselves in different cultures and learn math and scientific accomplishments by both cultures.

Loved and respected by her students and colleagues, Ericksen is dedicated to helping students achieve success through her limitless enthusiasm and innovative approaches to the craft of mathematics inside and outside of the classroom.

This article was written by University Communications intern, Caroline Kramer.

View latest news