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Outstanding Faculty/Staff Honored at Luncheon

Release Date: April 18, 2018

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 Wednesday, April 18. Director of Student Conduct and Case Management Nicole Ferguson was recognized as the 2018 Outstanding Professional Employee, while Auxiliary Services employee Jerry Hall was named the Outstanding Classified Employee. Jordan Steel, assistant professor of biology, earned the top faculty honor for Faculty Excellence in Teaching. The Teacher Education Program 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 40 years. A moment of silence also was observed for staff members and students who passed away within the last academic year.

Outstanding Professional Staff

2018 Outstanding Professional Staff Award recipient Nicole Ferguson, director of student conduct and case management, was selected from among three finalists for serving in what arguably may be one of the most stressful jobs on campus. Every day, she is thrust into intense and high-powered interactions with students who are coming face-to-face with their poor behavior, lack of judgment, and the impending consequences. Nicole serves as a tremendous role model and mentor to all students, but particularly to those who are learning the Student Conduct Code and completing whatever steps are required to get back in good standing with the University. While she sees herself as mentoring students every day, she also signed on as a first generation student mentor in order to share her struggle of achieving her own personal and professional goals with little to no family support.

Outstanding Classified Staff

The Outstanding Classified Employee was selected from among five nominees by a panel of retired community leaders. The Outstanding Classified Employee for 2018 was Jerry Hall from Auxiliary Services for the effort he puts into any job that is presented to him. Nominators lauded his communications skills and commitment and called him a team player who is not afraid to move among departments or buildings to take on assignments or challenges as they arise. “He shows so much care in what he does and will get the job done no matter how long it takes.”

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. Chris Fendrich, director of Auxiliary Services, earned the top staff honors, while Justin Holman, assistant professor in the Hasan School of Business, was the students’ choice as the top faculty member.

Faculty Awards

Nominators of Jordan Steel, assistant professor of biology for the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, acknowledge the energy and great ideas he brings to his colleagues and students as professor, academic advisor, and research mentor. He teaches courses in Microbiology at different levels, cell biology, genetics, and courses in his area of expertise, Virology. In his two and a half years at CSU-Pueblo, he has taught nearly 400 students, had 9 new course preparations, and developed a strong research program while maintaining an abnormally high level of service for a new faculty member. One colleague nominator said Steel “is responsive to students, and always trying different active teaching and support strategies. This is one of the best traits in teachers, the ability to assess, try new things, and change as more information is available.” Steel’s student evaluations rank highest in the biology department and fourth highest in the college with high marks for 1. Setting and maintaining high standards 2. Treating students with respect, 3. Communicating enthusiasm for the course, and 4. Promptly returning assignments. Graduate student Jessica Costlow called Steel “my guiding hand in the research lab, teaching me methods for achieving excellent results and how to present both orally and in writing. . .as well as how to manage lab supplies and keep a neat and organized lab space. He has been more than just a professor to me . . . he has been a life coach. . . His efforts already are being recognized beyond the campus. He won the 2017 National Association of Biology Teachers Four Year Award for innovative teaching and his undergraduate student Alyssa Torres won third place nationally in a poster competition at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry national meeting.

The recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award for Service Margie Massey, associate professor of teacher education, for her service to the department, the University, K-12 education, professional organizations, and the community. One nominator said Massey is the first to volunteer for her own departmental service duties as well as collaborative events with other departments. As a champion of exceptional clinical experiences, she has multiple connections to K-12 education due to her supervision of student teachers and alternative licensure candidates. She has held the demanding and time-consuming position of Faculty Senate President for many years even with her service on a plethora of University-wide committee, she still prioritizes and focuses intently on her interactions with students. Her service extends beyond the campus borders as President of Alpha Delta Kappa locally, an international honorary organization of women educators. She advocates for education and partnership in a number of community organizations as well.

Two awards were presented for Faculty Excellence in Scholarship/Creative Activity to  Engineering Professor Neb Jaksic and History Professor Jonathan Rees. Jaksic has integrated research and technology into undergraduate and graduate classes, received three national awards for his publications, and published 12 referred journal or proceedings papers all while making strong contributions in teaching and service. He provided leadership in obtaining funds for new equipment so that students learn about recent research using up-to-date equipment. He promotes a culture of intellectual exchange and high quality research within the department and with colleagues across campus.  Jonathan Rees is a productive scholar both in terms of quantity and quality. His research into ice and food history has allowed him to offer informed, considered counsel in public policy, specifically in terms of water quality and the “raw water” movement.  This year, he completed the manuscript for How We Used to Get Ice, which will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in the fall. He has established himself as a, if not, the leading scholar in this subfield. He also has devoted countless hours to helping CSU-Pueblo faculty find and adopt the right technologies to enhance their teaching and often is sought as an expert for his innovation in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

The recipient of the award for Faculty Excellence in Advising/Mentoring goes to Leonardo Bedoya-Valencia, associate professor in engineering, for his interactions with students, his constant monitoring of their progress, and his strong mentoring, especially relative to guidance with life decisions.  He is sensitive to the family, financial, and life difficulties that many of our students face, but also is insistent on performance, knowing when and when not to allow an extension to an assignment.  Originally from Colombia and now a US citizen, Leonardo has been an informal mentor to several DACA students who are struggling with the current political environment and the impact it may have on their futures. He has revitalized the student chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, which was in danger nationally due to inactivity.  Unlike many student organizations that ebb and flow in activity, this chapter now maintains a high level of student involvement.

The winner of the Excellence in Non-Tenure Track Teaching, Tamara Watkins Lecturer in Mathematics, teaches everything from College Algebra and Applied Calculus to Quantitative Analysis for Business and Elementary Concepts in Math and has served several stints as director of the Math Learning Center. She provides high quality, caring, and creative instruction in a wide variety of courses and stands ever ready to develop something new. Online and in-person reports from students are “glowing.” She has taken an active role in the math course required by Liberal Studies (education) majors and also helped revise the book used in Math 362, the problem solving course. When class schedules are posted, her classes fill quickly due to her well-known devotion to her students and how she motivates, excites, and challenges them.

The Excellence in Adjunct Teaching Award was presented to J.P. Purswell in Engineering, who has taught the Ergonomics course, every year since 1999. He brings expertise and an international reputation to the department, providing excellent teaching in a critical area of industrial engineering, supporting undergraduate and graduate students outside of class, and increasing the visibility of the department and CSU-Pueblo through his professional activities. Students applaud the great industry experiences he brings to class in workplace design and improvement, work environment safety issues, materials handling, and system usability analysis.

The following faculty members were honored as the top faculty member(s) in their respective colleges for the 2017-18 academic year:

  • College of Engineering, Education, and Professional Studies,  Daniel Bowan, assistant professor, Exercise Science, Health Promotion, and Recreation
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Gayle Berardi, Professor, History/Political Science
  • Hasan School of Business,  Laee Choi, assistant professor, Marketing
  • College of Science and Mathematics, Bruce Lundberg, professor/department chair, Mathematics
  • University Library, Jonathan Grunert, assistant professor   

Outstanding Team Award

The winner of this year’s award is the Teacher Education Program team for their devotion to professionalism, collaboration with both internal and external constituent groups, and expansion of degree options at a time of serious teacher shortage in Colorado. The program has added two new bachelor’s degree options in early childhood education and three new Master of Education emphasis areas in Curriculum and Instruction, English, and Early Childhood Education. All required significant amounts of collaboration with key stakeholders. A serious teacher shortage in Colorado has resulted from a significant drop in the number of students completing traditional teacher education programs over the last six years. Recruiting efforts at Future Teacher Expos, flexible licensure options, and the acquisition of external grant funds to promote education have been key factors in CSU-Pueblo’s success during this difficult time. The Teacher Education team has substantially improved the quality, number, and variety of courses offered through Extended Studies, improved relationships with area schools thanks to a Teacher Pipeline Project, expansion of Teacher Cadet Classes and incentives for students interested in rural education. They also have enhanced relationships with their alumni through the start of an Alumni Teacher Hall of Fame and Alumni Teacher of the Year program with assistance from the Alumni Association. 

Service Awards

Twelve individuals received special notice for the longevity of their service to the University:  Morris Gade, Cindy Hall, Lee Anne Martinez, Joanna Pone, Rudy Salazar, Stan Sanchez, Karen Yescavage, and Tamara Watkins for 25 years; Joe Folda and Susan Pena for 30 years, Jim Bowman for 35 years of service, and Associate Professor of Mathematics Janet Nichols for four decades, or 40 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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