Andison, Barlow Awards Recognize Faculty Excellence
Kristin Olbertson and Steven Vest are the 2012 recipients of the Andison Awards for Excellence in Teaching at Alma College, while Chih-Ping Chen and Will Nichols have received this year’s Barlow Awards for Faculty Excellence.
The Andison Awards, supported by a gift from Thomas Andison, recognizes excellence in teaching through pedagogical innovation, creative activities with students, and superior teaching. Faculty members nominate their colleagues for the award. The president selects the recipients, who each receive a $1,000 cash grant.
Olbertson, assistant professor of history, joined the Alma faculty in 2006. She was nominated for “innovative, scholarly and creative teaching,” whether it is in the classroom or on field trips to courthouses or law libraries.
“She crafts beautifully organized and executed lectures; if all she did was lecture, her students could learn a great deal,” wrote her nominator. “But that isn’t all she does. She also works hard to get her students to learn outside the classroom. She gets them into archives to do actual historical research. She genuinely cares about their learning.”
Olbertson has research interests in law and language, early America, and criminal law; and she has taught classes on Michigan history; religion in American history; constitutional history; and gender, sexuality and the law in American history. She has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan.
Vest, head reference librarian and associate professor of library science, has taught at Alma College since 1999. His nominator praised him for his ability to easily interact with faculty and students and for his effectiveness in teaching library research.
“Whether he is helping students one-on-one at the reference desk or in a classroom environment, he is always assisting students to learn and grow in their knowledge of research,” wrote his nominator. “He is as adept teaching research skills to students in a 400-level chemistry course as a 100-level English course.”
Vest has taught both introductory and advanced library research classes. Last fall, he taught a First Year Seminar course designed to introduce first year students to college and the use of library resources through the study of American film. He has master’s degrees in creative writing from Indiana University and library science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
The Barlow Awards for Faculty Excellence
The Barlow Awards, first presented in 1982, recognize faculty members for excellence in teaching, scholarly or creative work, and college and community service. Recipients receive $1,000 cash grants.
Recipients are nominated by faculty, administrators, alumni and student Barlow Trophy nominees and reviewed by the Faculty Personnel and the Barlow Award committees. The president selects the awardees.
Chen, associate professor of English, was nominated for her “keen sense of responsibility for students,” classroom pedagogy that is “always grounded in theory and rich in content,” and her commitment to campus diversity efforts, including her roles as International Cub advisor and Diversity Task Force member.
“She is a master teacher whose thoughtful preparation consistently helps students to examine complex ideas carefully,” wrote her nominator. “She spends many hours conferencing with students and is truly accessible as both academic advisor and classroom teacher.”
A member of the Alma faculty since 2000, Chen has research interests in 19th century British literature, gender criticism, 20th century ethnic literature, post-colonial theory and literature, gothic fiction and crime and detective fiction. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Nichols, Secrest Professor of Music and director of choirs, was nominated for his ability to challenge students and demand their best and for his organizational and promotional skills that have brought significant recognition to both the choral program and Alma College.
“Wherever the choir sings, audiences are left with a positive impression of Alma College,” wrote his nominator. “While the talents of the students are essential to this, without Will’s drive, dedication, organization and selflessness, such recognition would not happen. All of Will’s behind-the-scenes work make the Alma College choirs a source of pride for us all.”
A member of the Alma faculty since 1983, Nichols also has composed several original anthems for choruses and new settings of Christmas carols and organized and led choir tours both across the United States and overseas. He has a doctor of musical arts degree from Michigan State University.
The Barlow Awards are made possible by a gift from Joel Barlow to recognize faculty members who have “contributed the most, by their work and example, often at personal sacrifice, to furthering the education mission of the college.”
Posted: Thu, April 19th, 2012 at 8:16AM