ExEd Champions

The Office of Experiential Education is delighted to announce the 2022-23 inaugural ExEd Champions! ExEd Champions have a passion for experiential education and its impacts on students. This program provides recognition, professional development, and resources to a cohort of ExEd leaders each year. Champions will be available to consult with faculty and staff who have questions related to starting, maintaining, or improving ExEd programs. 

Meet the Champions!

Jennifer (Jenny) Bay: Jenny is a Professor of English and affiliate faculty member in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program as well as the Religious Studies program. She is the Director of the Professional Writing program where she coordinates the internship practicum and teaches courses involving community-based participatory research and service learning. She has previously served as editor of the Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement. Jenny is excited to share her experiences with internships and service-learning with the Purdue community. Areas of expertise: internships, online experiential education, service-learning, and developing future faculty in experiential education.

Michael Bittinger: Michael is the Assistant Director of Study Abroad in International Programs. He is really committed to study abroad as experiential education, including a strong emphasis on reflection. He leads two study abroad experiences each summer and is very intentional about the continuous improvement of the programs he leads. Areas of expertise: study abroad, reflection in the moment, learning in non-traditional spaces, and intercultural learning.

Melissa (Mel) Gruver: Mel is the Senior Associate Director in the Roger C. Stewart Leadership & Professional Development Department. She leads civic, leadership, and activism programs in the co-curricular space. Mel designs her programming with a critical service-learning perspective and has experience teaching others to do so, too. Areas of expertise: co-curricular experiential education, service-learning, ethical, reciprocal partnerships, and critical reflection. 

William (Bill) Oakes: Bill is a 150th Anniversary Professor and a Professor of Engineering Education. He is also the director of the EPICS Program. He has decades of experience with service-learning, with deep expertise in assessment and extending program models into new educational settings. Bill has shared his expertise in service-learning, reflection, and more internationally for many years. Areas of expertise: service-learning, experiential education at scale, assessment of experiential education, and partnerships, both domestic and international. 

Aaron Thompson: Aaron is an Associate Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. He also serves as the Director of the Center for Community and Environmental Design. Aaron has Experience in service-learning and serious gaming; the center he runs offers high-quality community-engaged and project-based ExEd opportunities focused on landscape architecture. Areas of expertise: community-engaged and project-based experiential education, developing experiential education infrastructure, Purdue Extension and experiential education, and co-op/internships. 

Joe Tort: Joe is the Associate Director for the Office of Professional Practice. He has 20 years of experience in Higher Education leading and developing study abroad, work-integrated experiential learning, professional skill development courses, and intercultural training courses. Joe’s work involves cultivating university and industry partnerships, advising and mentoring students, and oversite over all Office Professional Practice Programs serving more than 2,000 students annually. Joe is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory, a member of the Cooperative Education & Internship Association, a member of the National Society for Experiential Education, and a steering committee member for the Annual Colloquium on International Engineering Education. Joe is the recipient of Purdue’s 2021 Outstanding Leadership in Globalization Award. Areas of expertise: work-integrated learning, study abroad, intercultural learning, and developing external partnerships. 

Jason Ware: Jason is a Clinical Associate Professor, Honors College. He also serves as the Director of Engaged Scholar Development. Jason brings a variety of ExEd forms into his courses. He’s well-known for both service-learning and undergraduate research. He also designs creative field-based assignments for students to engage in. Areas of expertise: service-learning, undergraduate research, and embedding experiential education in "traditional" courses. 

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