November 20, 2020

University Residences recognizes outstanding Learning Communities instructors, faculty fellows

Residential Academic Initiatives, a program in University Residences, has granted a number of awards to faculty, graduate teachers and staff who have provided excellent service teaching or mentoring in the Learning Communities or Faculty Fellows programs during the 2019-20 academic year.

Residential Academic Initiatives is a division of University Residences that helps instructors design, plan and implement educational events outside of their classrooms. RAI also facilitates a number of programs that provide learning and community building opportunities, including Learning Communities and Faculty Fellows.

Learning communities are groups of 20-30 students who attend several classes together and live in the same residence hall. Instructors teaching the common courses are tasked with leading events and excursions that extend course materials beyond the classroom and facilitate a sense of community. More than 3,300 Purdue students live in these communities.

The Faculty Fellows program aims to connect faculty, staff and residential students in meaningful relationships. Fellows provide informal experiences during which students can feel seen and heard. Faculty Fellows come from various disciplines and include University vice presidents, deans, department heads, administrators, faculty and staff. 

“This year has brought on quite a few challenges when it comes to events,” says Haley Cutler, assistant director of Learning Communities and faculty liaison. “While many traditional activities have not been able to take place, these outstanding faculty members found creative ways to encourage students to find and build their communities. We thank these individuals for their continued dedication to students living in University Residences.”

Award recipients for the 2019-20 academic year

Learning Community Instructor Advocate Awards are presented to learning community instructors who were nominated by students for displaying an uncommon commitment to learning, taking exceptional involvement within their learning community and providing opportunities for connection beyond the classroom. The recipients, their positions and their learning communities are:

* Jonathan Sweet, assistant professor, Purdue Bands & Orchestra; Bands & Orchestras – Engineering Learning Community.
* Julie Pluimer, administrative manager of the Office of Student Services and academic advisor, Forestry and Natural Resources; Nature of Wild Things Learning Community.

Student Impact Awards honor learning community instructors who demonstrate exceptional success in connecting students to peers, faculty and professional staff, campus resources and the community at large. The honorees are:

* Exploratory Studies – Honors Learning Community: Mary Beth Lencke, senior academic advisor, Exploratory Studies.
* IDEAS Learning Community: Virginia Booth Womack, director, Minority Engineering Program; and Bill Oakes, director, EPICS, and professor, Engineering Education.
* The Data Mine Learning Community: Mark Daniel Ward, professor of statistics, associate director of actuarial science and director, The Data Mine; Ellen Gundlach, managing director, The Data Mine; and Margaret Betz, corporate partners senior manager, The Data Mine.

Academic Connection Awards are awarded to learning community instructors who plan events that connect classroom learning directly to hands-on experience. The recipients are:

* Entrepreneurship and Innovation Learning Community: Michael Cassidy, senior lecturer, Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation; and Rita Baker, academic advisor, Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
* Team Hospitality and Tourism Management Learning Community: Richard Ghiselli, department head and professor, Hospitality and Tourism Management; and Kelly Cerny, lead administrative assistant, Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Real World Experience Awards recognize learning community instructors who plan events that offer introductions to various opportunities within their respective academic fields. The honorees are:

* Boiler Serves Learning Community: Melissa Gruver, associate director, Civic Engagement and Leadership Development; and Vanessa Pacheco, coordinator of civic engagement, Civic Engagement and Leadership Development.
* Larsen Leadership Academy Learning Community: Megan Bergman, senior academic advisor, Krannert School of Management; and Heather Howard, assistant professor, Purdue Libraries.

The Frederick L. Hovde Faculty Fellow of the Year is awarded to the faculty fellow who best engages faculty, staff and residential students in meaningful and thought-provoking relationships. The recipient is Doug Crabill, senior academic IT specialist, Statistics, and faculty fellow in Hillenbrand Hall.

Residential Academic Initiatives is seeking faculty members who may be interested in becoming a part of the Faculty Fellows program. Interested faculty are encouraged to apply here. Faculty can also contact Residential Academic Initiatives via email or by calling 765-494-2410.

Writer: Christy McCarter

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