Alma College’s top awards for faculty excellence recognize superior teaching in the areas of psychology, medieval history, ethnic politics and indigenous anthropology.
Gwyneth Beagley and Daniel Wasserman are the 2016 recipients of the Andison Awards for Excellence in Teaching, while Britt Cartrite and Megan McCullen have received this year’s Barlow Awards for Faculty Excellence.
The Andison Awards for Excellence in Teaching
The Andison Awards, supported by a gift from trustee Thomas Andison, recognizes excellence in teaching through pedagogical innovation, creative activities with students, and superior teaching. Faculty members nominate their colleagues for the award, and the president selects the recipients, who each receive a $1,000 cash grant to support their scholarship.
Beagley, professor of psychology, has taught at Alma since 1985. She was nominated for her teaching versatility and service to the college over a 30-year career.
“She has served several terms on the Faculty Personnel Committee while simultaneously chairing the psychology department,” wrote her nominator. “[She teaches students] in both traditional courses and independent studies. [Over the past four years], her physiological psychology course has been enrolled at 125 percent of listed seats, and she has taught 46 independent studies.”
Beagley has received national media attention for her adoption of digital teaching tools, such as iPads and mobile device applications, which have resulted in enhanced classroom learning and educational outcomes. She has taught classes on topics related to neuroscience, gerontology, motivation, behavior modification and addiction and has sponsored numerous student research presentations. She has a Ph.D. in psychology/neuroscience from Michigan State University.
Wasserman, assistant professor of history, joined the Alma faculty in 2013. He was nominated for his teaching style, positive interaction with students and institutional vision.
“While Danny uses much of the technology his classroom provides, he relies most heavily upon conversation, the sharing of information with his students,” wrote his nominator. “In my mind, there is no better learning method available than a challenging and respectful conversation, where a topic is explored from multiple angles. … In all academic settings, Danny interacts meaningfully with his students.”
Wasserman, a strong advocate for the liberal arts, also was commended for his public talk to first-year seminar students on the purpose of higher education. In addition to teaching courses in medieval and early modern European history, Wasserman has scholarly expertise on the history of 16th century Spain and its empire. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia.
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.
Cartrite, professor of political science, was nominated for his “unsurpassed” service on faculty committees, ”excellent” teaching, and commitment to engaging students in “real world data analysis and critical thinking.”
“In addition to his commitment to service, Britt shines in the area of research in his scholarly discipline,” wrote his nominator. “He organized the Michigan Political Science Association conference and is now its president. He edits book reviews … and has published many peer-reviewed articles. He also finds ways to involve students in his research.”
A member of the Alma faculty since 2005, Cartrite has expertise in comparative politics, ethnopolitical mobilization and western European politics. His Spring Term classes in Scotland are popular with students, and he led an Alma College alumni trip to Scotland. In Fall 2016, Cartrite will assume the position of associate provost, serving as a mentor for new faculty and facilitating major initiatives of the Provost Office. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.
McCullen, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, was nominated for her “extraordinary breadth and depth of teaching, research and service activities” as a full-time visiting faculty member.
When she first joined the faculty in 2010, McCullen “not only excelled at her teaching duties but quickly became a student mentor, advisor, volunteered for committee work, participated in and/or organized panels and outside speaker events, worked for and with local community groups, and sought both ‘town and gown’ resources to incorporate into her classes,” wrote her nominator. “Beyond her dissertation work, she has maintained an active scholarship agenda and has played active roles in local and regional professional organizations.”
McCullen’s primary research as an ethnohistorian focuses on Native American communities of the Great Lakes during the 17th century, and her courses focus on indigenous cultures. She has a Ph.D. in anthropology 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 educational mission of the college.”