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CSU-Pueblo honors outstanding faculty and staff at luncheon

Release Date: April 20, 2017

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo


Colorado State University-Pueblo honors outstanding faculty and staff at luncheon

PUEBLO – Outstanding faculty and staff leaders at Colorado State University–Pueblo were honored at a recognition luncheon held on Wednesday, April 19. Field Experience Coordinator in the Teacher Education Program Jeremiah Blaha was recognized as the 2017 Outstanding Professional Employee, while Extended Studies Administrative Assistant Juanita Sanchez was named the Outstanding Classified Employee. Claire Ramos, assistant professor of biology, earned the top faculty honor for Faculty Excellence in Teaching. The Library Information Management Team earned the Outstanding Team Award.

Also honored at the luncheon were recent retirees of the University and individuals who achieved a service milestone for employment during the past academic year from five to 35 years. A moment of silence also was observed for staff members and students who passed away within the last academic year.

Outstanding Professional Staff

Field Experience Coordinator in the Teacher Education Program Jeremiah Blaha was selected from 8 finalists for consistently demonstrating excellence and dedication to his position, the department, the University, and the education community in the Pueblo region. Enrollment in the department’s alternative licensure program has doubled since he began just over two years ago in part because of his ability to recruit candidates into the program and establish positive relationships. He has improved the field experience and student teaching programs and developed a Teacher Cadet Program that includes a future teacher course for high school students to earn college credit while solidifying their path to a teaching career. He also applied for and received a grant from the Office of Alumni Relations to implement an alumni Teacher Education Hall of Fame, which drew a large and enthusiastic crowd to the inaugural event in March.

Outstanding Classified Staff

The Outstanding Classified Employees were selected from among 7 nominees by a panel of retired community leaders. The Outstanding Classified Employee for 2017 was Juanita Sanchez, administrative assistant II in Extended Studies.  Nominators labeled Juanita as the “go-to person” due to her knowledge of the department’s processes and procedures. In fact, she has developed and designed How-To folders that feature roughly 50 step-by-step guides to complete tasks in AIS. She also creates solutions such as interactive forms on the website and blanket registrations to help reduce office paper waste. She has served thousands of diverse student populations from high school to traditional aged student to adult learners as well as incarcerated students and treats each and every student with care and respect.

Students’ Choice Awards

Representatives from Associated Students’ Government, announced the recipients of the Students’ Choice Awards. ASG accepted nominations by students for a faculty and staff member they felt contributed the most to their experiences at CSU-Pueblo. Victoria Obregon, regional site coordinator for the College Assistance Migrant Program, earned the top staff honors, while Dr. Fawn Amber Montoya, associate professor and program coordinator of Chicano Studies, was the students’ choice as the top faculty member.

Faculty Awards

Nominators of Claire Ramos, assistant professor of biology for the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, acknowledge her significant contributions to the biology curriculum and her use of technology and pedagogical techniques to enhance student learning.  Described as a “master teacher who serves as an example for teachers across campus, Ramos teaches at all points in the curriculum from freshmen College Biology to upper division offerings. Over the past three years, she has designed and/or taught six new courses, and her course evaluations did not suffer. In fact, she has some of the highest course evaluations in the department and college. She brings activities/technology into her classroom through IClickers, discussions of primary literature, interactive games, and use of the Science Learning Center. She has become a department leader in the practice of applied learning after development of 491 Experimental Design and Biostatistics, which serves as a bridge for upper division and graduate student curriculum. Instead of lecturing and using a textbook, she presents real-life datasets and problems, which students must solve with feedback from her and peers. 

The recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award for Service is Sandra Bonetti, professor of chemistry, for her valuable service at levels stretching from the Chemistry Department to the highest levels of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Her commitment to service is such that she remained active even throughout her sabbatical last year. She plays an active role in local Chemistry Day and Earth Day celebrations and gives significant time to the Colorado Section of the ACS, where she serves as Councilor, on the executive committee, and as listserv manager. Her impact is particularly notable in Project SEED, which results in the hosting of high school students who gain life changing opportunities (and often scholarships) through her summer research group.  In 2015, she earned the ACS Section Volunteer Award for her service to COACS, which did not slow her a bit. Her service has resulted in bringing chemists from throughout the state to CSU-Pueblo and exposing the Pueblo community to chemistry.

The 2017 award for Faculty Excellence in Scholarship/Creative Activity went to Matt Harris, professor of history, for epitomizing the term “productive scholar” in terms of the quantity, quality, impact, and accessibility of his work, which focuses on the intersection between politics, religion, and the law. Despite carrying a heavy administrative load as History MA Director and Senior to Sophomore Coordinator, Matt has developed new courses over the last two years, published several books, and scores of articles in peer-reviewed journals. These publications have earned attention and awards, including a CSPAN Interview, the Vera Talmage Award for the best article on Mormon history, and a finalist nod for the Colorado Book Award for his work on Zebulon Pike and Thomas Jefferson. The STS program is one of the largest on campus and requires significant time visiting high school classrooms, recruiting and mentoring new teachers, and facilitating library and technology support for teachers and their students.

The recipient of the award for Faculty Excellence in Advising/Mentoring goes to Steve McClaran, professor of exercise science, health promotion, and recreation, who has supported student success and retention through quality interaction with students.   He is sensitive to the students’ needs in learning and committed to advising and mentoring students. He advises more than 70 majors, but he reaches nearly 320 students by teaching a course in the core. He meets with students not just for academic advisement but for professional/career advisement as well. As former chair of the department, he is familiar with all programs and emphases in the department as well as available resources, which is particularly advantageous when advising new students. He is exceptionally skilled at assisting students in identifying their life and career coals and has made extraordinary contributions in support of undergraduate research, utilizing more than 20 undergraduate students with proposals as well as establishing methodology, data collection, and data analysis.

The winner of the Excellence in Non-Tenure Track Teaching, Justin Holman, Lecturer in the Hasan School of Business, has implemented a new pedagogy for the teaching of statistics in HSB that is overwhelmingly successful both from a standpoint of student satisfaction and learning outcomes. He relies on modern electronic resources that are widely used by college age students, including blogs, Twitter, email, google sheets, google charts, etc. which represent a complete overhaul of the traditional classroom methods. Coupled with the use of technology is the subtle insertion of the student as the owner of learning outcomes through the flipped classroom approach. He also has incorporated a free electronic textbook that saves students money while providing electronic access to the course topics. In-class activities include hands-on experiential projects that are completed using data mined directly from the Internet by students individually and in groups. He balances the technology with one on one tutoring, mentoring, and coaching at the end of every class period. 

The Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, was presented to two individuals, Patrick Radigan in the Hasan School of Business, and William “Bill” Bregar in the Teacher Education Program.  Radigan teaches business communications, creating an engaging environment that allows students to find answered on their own. He brings significant corporate experience – including employment with TWA/American and Frontier Airlines, and Union Pacific Railroad -- which gives him credibility with students and fodder for case studies. These real life situations are woven into interactive activities that increase classroom engagement and comprehension of material. Bregar has worked as an adjunct in Teacher Education for more than 14 years as well as supervising student teachers and coaching alternative licensure candidates. His experiences as a teacher and administrator in both rural and urban positions provides a perfect combination to students, and his connections to schools have help novice teachers improve. Service on and with school boards provides critical expertise for helped pave the way to many new partnerships for the department.

The following faculty members were honored as the top faculty member(s) in their respective colleges for the 2016-17 academic year:

College of Education, Engineering, and Professionals Studies

Leonardo Bedoya Valencia, Associate Professor, Engineering

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Yvonne Montoya, Assistant Professor, Communication & Rhetoric

Hasan School of Business 

He Boong Kwon, Associate Professor, Management

College of Science and Mathematics

Janet Barnett, Professor, Mathematics

University Library

Sandy Hudock, Professor, Director, Education, Research, Outreach Services

Outstanding Team Award

The winner of this year’s award is the Library Information Management team, who accomplished a complete library system migration in just seven months in collaboration with CSU Fort Collins and the Information Technology staff. The migration touched every aspect of library management, impacting all library staff and all university constituents. As a result of the team’s efforts, the Library now has a new shared library system that will serve all the libraries in the CSU System. Each team member was paired with a committee of peers at Fort Collins and each was assigned regular online and webinar training in addition to a three-day planning session and daily meetings or work groups. While the library’s systems migration may not be as visible to the campus as some other project projects, know that each time a student or faculty member finds a book or journal article through the new system, it will be thanks to the hard work, creativity, and dedication of this team.

Service Awards

Eight individuals received special notice for the longevity of their service to the University:  Louise Anaya, David Bartolo, Sandra Bonetti, Dennis Dalton, and Doug Summer for 25 years; Martin Atteberry and Nancy Whatley for 30 years, and Anthony Bonfiglio for 35 years of service

Colorado State University - Pueblo is committed to excellence, setting the standard for regional comprehensive universities in teaching, research, and service by providing leadership and access for its region, while maintaining its commitment to diversity.


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