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Andison, Barlow Awards Recognize Faculty Excellence

Alma College’s top awards for faculty excellence recognize superior teaching in the areas of English, biology and environmental science, psychology and world languages and cultures.

ALMA — Natashia Swalve and Holly Liu are the 2020 recipients of the Andison Awards for Excellence in Teaching, and Amanda Harwood and Laura von Wallmenich have received this year’s Barlow Awards for Faculty Excellence.

The Andison Awards for Excellence in Teaching
The Andison Awards, made possible by a gift from trustee Thomas Andison, recognize 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.

Natashia SwalveNatashia SwalveSwalve, who has taught at Alma since 2016, was nominated for her work as a professor and an advisor, as well as for her contributions to faculty committees, according to her nomination letter. She is an assistant professor and chair of the psychology department.

“Natashia’s dedication to her students can be seen not only in her classroom instruction but also in her commitment to students in her advising role,” her nomination letter stated. “I have also served alongside her on a number of faculty committees and am inspired by the example she sets, how conscientious and dependable she is, and her consistent positivity.”

Swalve’s expertise is in drugs of abuse, animal models of mental disorders and psychopharmacology. She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and behavior from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Holly LiuHolly LiuLiu, who has taught at Alma since 2006, is a professor of world languages and cultures, specifically German and Chinese. She has a Ph.D. from the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures at Vanderbilt University.

“I am honored and humbled by this recognition of my teaching,” Liu said. “I love teaching and love teaching our students. I hope that my contributions have changed their lives in some way and I appreciate the nomination and the support by my colleagues.”

Liu’s expertise is in German literature from the post-war and contemporary eras, the Holocaust and Chinese contemporary literature and film.

The Barlow Awards for Faculty Excellence
The Barlow Awards, made possible by a gift from Joel Barlow, a 1929 Alma graduate, recognize faculty members for excellence in teaching, scholarly or creative work, and college and community service. Recipients are nominated by faculty, administrators, alumni and student Barlow Trophy nominees. The president selects the awardees, who receive $1,000 cash grants.

Laura von WallmenichLaura von WallmenichVon Wallmenich, an associate professor of English and American studies coordinator, was nominated for “her compassion for her students and her focus in the classroom,” according to her nomination letter. She has taught at Alma since 2001.

“It is hard to nominate only one faculty member for this award, especially amidst exemplary professors within and outside of the English department — all of whom offer whatever they can to meet student needs and push for growth,” her nomination letter stated. “However, Professor von Wallmenich exemplifies what I hoped college would hold and I am a much better leader and thinker for having met her.”

Von Wallmenich teaches courses in various areas of literature; including African-American and 18th-century transatlantic, as well as the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized right now, at a time when so many of us are working hard to find ways to deliver what we do to our students in changed circumstances,” von Wallmenich said.

Amanda HarwoodAmanda HarwoodHarwood, an assistant professor of biology and environmental studies, was nominated for being a “successful scholar, teacher, mentor and faculty member,” according to her nomination letter. She has taught at Alma since 2015.

“(Harwood) makes her students work hard, but rewards them with skills that are directly marketable, both in the job market and in postbaccalaureate education,” her nomination letter stated. “She has helped redefine the environmental studies major as well as working towards goals such as the Great Lakes Watershed project to the benefit of the college.”

Harwood teaches courses on environmental toxicology, global health perspectives, risk assessment and environmental health. She has a Ph.D. in zoology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

“I am honored to have received this award,” Harwood said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great students both in the classroom and doing research. Serving Alma College and the local community with my committee work and research has been a privilege.”

Story published on May 13, 2020