Faculty, Staff Members Recognized for Excellence in Teaching, Research, & Support

Saturday, May 27, 2017
Don Richards

Outstanding: Retiring professor Don Richards won the Dean's Outstanding Teacher Award for 2016-17.

Rose-Hulman faculty and staff members were recognized during this year’s commencement for their contributions through teaching excellence, work as scholars and researchers, and encouragement to student success.

Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award

Mechanical engineering professor Don Richards was a trailblazer for change in undergraduate engineering education during a 29-year teaching career that ended with his retirement at the end of the 2016-17 school year.

The recipient of this year’s Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award, Richards worked with colleagues to adapt first- and second-year curricula that provided students with the multidisciplinary building blocks for many fields of engineering. He was a facilitator for the institute’s annual Making Academic Change Happen workshops, tutoring professors and administrators throughout the world to embrace change in academia.

He also formerly directed Rose-Hulman’s Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education, helping faculty in all academic disciplines to achieve their full potential, and examined ways to implement elements of engineering design into students’ four-year educational experience.

Richards is probably most associated with the institute’s Conservation and Accounting Principles course, commonly called “ConApps,” that is built around a common framework for teaching and using basic engineering principles. This systems, accounting and modeling approach is so unique in engineering education that Richards had to write the course’s 400-page, self-published textbook during a sabbatical break from teaching in 2001. Updating the publication is among Richards’ retirement plans.

Jameel Ahmed, interim dean of faculty, notes that a student taking Richards’ section of the ConApps course last fall observed that “you could tell that [Richards] was personally invested in this material, and it seemed like he truly wanted everyone to succeed to the best of their ability.”

Finding balance between engineering, science and mathematics also was the objective of the new academic programs on campus that helped students succeed in the challenging first two years of their college coursework. That’s especially true of the Sophomore Engineering Curriculum, which was developed as part of Rose-Hulman’s participation in the National Science Foundation-funded Foundation Coalition. This sophomore-year curriculum was at one time taken by all biomedical, electrical, computer and mechanical engineering students and was a “life-changing” experience for them, Ahmed said.

The Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award recognizes professors who have demonstrated outstanding abilities as a teacher, through attention and dedication to students, both in and out of the classroom. Students nominated 45 eligible faculty members for this year’s award. Here is a complete list of past award recipients.

Ella Ingram

Biology professor Ella Ingram is the 2016-17 winner of the Board of Trustees Outstanding Scholar Award.

Board of Trustees Outstanding Scholar Award

Ella Ingram, professor of biology, has focused on ecology and evolution research, and scholarship of teaching and learning since joining the Rose-Hulman faculty in 2004. She has overseen students that have written 35 undergraduate research theses on topics such as mycorrhizal symbioses, wetlands water quality and human behavioral ecology.

In awarding Ingram the Board of Trustees Outstanding Scholar Award, Board Chair Don Ings noted that Ingram’s research experiences have offered Rose-Hulman students some of their most impactful learning experiences, from how to develop a hypothesis and design an experiment to test it, to the challenge of presenting their results at a regional or national conference.

The value of Ingram’s research has been recognized by the National Science Foundation and Lilly Endowment, and she authored more than 20 scholarly and popular media publications.

In her work on the scholarship of teaching and learning, Ingram has applied the process of science to study how people learn best. As director of the Rose-Hulman’s Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education, she has helped faculty colleagues examine the high-impact practices in undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics teaching. She is also a co-director of the institute’s Making Academic Change Happen workshops that are helping faculty in a range of institutions, nationally and internationally, to bring about change in their courses and curricula.

 “Ella Ingram has done more for the development of our Rose-Hulman faculty than any individual or program I’ve seen in my time here, and I believe that one reason for her success is that she approaches adult learning/faculty development as a scholarly activity,” says Kay C Dee, the outgoing head of the Biology and Biomedical Engineering Department.

The Board of Trustees Outstanding Scholar Award recognizes faculty members who represent the highest standards of academic scholarship and who serve the campus community as a role model for professional development. A list of past award recipients can be found here.

Keith Royer

Dedicated Service: Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering technician Keith Royer is the 2016-17 recipient of the President's Outstanding Service Award.

President’s Outstanding Service Award

Keith Royer, technician for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was recognized with the President’s Outstanding Service Award for the time and care he has devoted to assisting students throughout their four-year careers, as well as being a valuable colleague among faculty and staff.

During his 31 years as a staff member, Royer has contributed to students working on design projects during their senior and freshman years, assisted with students completing surveying courses across campus, and helped professors bring innovations and state-of-the-art equipment to classrooms and laboratories.

President Jim Conwell notes that Royer is perfectly happy to remain behind the scenes on campus, and the technician’s patience and caring attitude rubs off on everyone who has had the pleasure to work with him. However, as a recent civil engineering graduate told the president, “Keith Royer deserves to know how important he is to the entire civil engineering department and how much everyone appreciates him.”

Earlier this school year, when the Indiana Department of Natural Resources was dedicating a new shelter at McCormick’s Creek State Park near Ellettsville, Ind., Royer volunteered to represent the civil engineering department at the dedication ceremony—on one of the coldest days of the winter season.

“Keith took time to do this because that shelter had been designed by civil engineering students as part of a past senior design project. He knew how important that project was to those former students, now alumni, and wanted to meet those former students attending the ceremony. It was a special day for them, the department and, I’m sure, Keith,” says Conwell.

By recognizing Royer, Conwell acknowledged that he was honoring all staff members for their dedication to “making Rose-Hulman a beacon in higher education, and creating this special collaborative atmosphere that we all cherish.”

Shining Star, Excellence in Service & Make a Difference Awards

Mike Gioia

Shining Star: Information security officer Michael Gioia won the 2016-17 Shining Star Award.

Honored during this year’s Commencement Reception for their dedication and support to Rose-Hulman were Brian Tovey, custodian for Hatfield Hall, with the Make a Difference Award, and Michael Gioia, information security officer for the Office of Enterprise Information Technology, with the Shining Star Award. The College & Life Skills Curriculum Committee received the Excellence in Service Award for the second time.

The Make a Difference Award honors a staff member with at least five years of continuous service who is considered one of Rose-Hulman’s “Unsung Heroes” by making a difference in the lives of others throughout the year. Tovey was noted for his outstanding dedication to improving the campus and his positive interactions with staff and students.

Brian Tovey

Making a Difference: Brian Tovey wins the Make a Difference Award for 2016-17.

The Shining Star Award recognizes a staff member with between one and five years experience who demonstrates an outstanding level of excellence and knowledge in their job performance. The award winner also has demonstrated exemplary leadership within their department and has contributed to improving the quality of life within the institute. Gioia has contributed to maintaining Rose-Hulman’s information technology security, and provided expertise to keep the campus community aware of best industry practices for cyber security.

The College and Life Skills Curriculum Committee

Giving Back: The College & Life Skills Curriculum Committee wins the Excellence in Service award for 2016-17.

As the Excellence in Service recipient, the College & Life Skills Curriculum Committee was recognized for establishing a program that gives incoming freshmen the tools necessary to make a successful transition to college life. The 10-week fall quarter course covers such topics as study skills, stress relief, career preparedness and money management, and introduces students to important people and resources on campus. The course curriculum has become a model for similar programs at national engineering colleges and universities. Committee members recognized were Patrick Cunningham, Sarah Forbes, Kevin Lanke, Tom Miller, Kyle Rhodes and Janie Szabo.