KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo faculty and staff received awards for service, efforts to promote diversity, excellent teaching, and distinguished research, during the annual spring convocation.
Those recognized included Rosalyn Davis, Virgil Hunt Service Award; Niki Weller, the Chancellor’s Diversity Excellence Award and the Claude Rich Excellence in Teaching Award for senior level faculty; Josephine Dibie, Claude Rich Excellence in Teaching Award for junior level faculty; and Dmitriy Chulkov, Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award.
Staff honored included Employees of the Year Rick Phelps, Terri Butler, and Tara Grant.
Davis, associate clinical professor of psychology, was “happily surprised” to receive the Virgil Hunt Award, a commendation for outstanding service by a faculty or staff member.
“It reaffirms my commitment to being of service to others is a good use of my time,” said Davis. “I usually learn a lot from each service activity, whether it’s presenting, reviewing an article, or providing new opportunities for students. It also helps recharge me and restore my faith in the common good when I interact with others, so this award helps pull all of that into focus for me.”
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke commended Davis, noting she has been actively engaged on campus, as well as at the state and national level, with a focus on diversity and mental health.
She has served as advisor for the psychology club, and participate in Culture Bash, sexual assault awareness week, the Walk into my Future event for kindergartners, and led national depression screening days. Recently, she initiated and led safe zone training, preparing faculty and staff members to be allies for LGBTQ+ students.
Davis also is a member of the American Red Cross mental health responders, helping people who have experienced tremendous loss, and also serving volunteers returning from long deployments.
“This is just a sample of Dr. Davis’ service activities,” Sciame-Giesecke said.
Weller, associate professor of sociology, was honored with the Chancellor’s Diversity Excellence Award, which highlights endeavors that promote diversity on campus, as well as the Claude Rich Excellence in Teaching award for professor, associate professor, or senior lecturer level faculty.
She called it “a tremendous honor” to receive both awards, adding that she’s humbled by the recognition, given the outstanding work of previous recipients.
“I’ve been very intentional in my approach to teaching and providing my students high-impact learning experiences, which is founded in my own personal commitments towards promoting a deeper understanding of our diverse social realities,” Weller said. “I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received from IU Kokomo and my colleagues at HOPE Mentoring. These awards motivate me to improve and expand on different ways to serve the students and the community.”
Sciame-Giesecke said Weller’s passion for diversity work began early in her career, and led her to become a college professor.
“She is committed to creating learning experiences for her students to examine, discuss, and debate how social diversity presents different life experiences,” said Sciame-Giesecke, adding that her curriculum “encourages us to consider the life experiences of people who are different from us,” which improves the social well-being of students.
Mark Canada, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said Weller received the Claude Rich Award for her use of experiential learning. In addition to mentoring faculty and supervising undergraduate research, she co-designed a Freshman Learning Community, and was site coordinator for HOPE Mentoring, which pairs undergraduate students with incarcerated juveniles in Indiana.
Dibie, lecturer in business, was awarded the Claude Rich Excellence in Teaching Award at the assistant professor or lecturer level. The award commemorates Howard County native Claude Rich, who retired from IU after 44 years of service.
Canada said Dibie welcomes learning opportunities to grow professionally, and knows investing in herself with professional development is essential for student success.
“She believes in incorporating real-life examples and experiences, whether through KEY trips, case studies, or online simulations, to stimulate critical thinking skills, and expand the context of larger-scale issues,” he said.
He noted that Chulkov, professor of economics and management information systems, submitted an impressive dossier in support of receiving the Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award, with 21 publications, 16 research presentations, and 12 grants, research awards and service commitments from 2016 to the present.
“Dr. Chulkov’s research is uniquely intersected with his teaching,” he said, noting that he has published case studies that are used in upper level undergraduate and graduate courses, and that he incorporates that research into his classes, developing research opportunities for student“He is highly revered as an expert in his field, publishing in top-tier journals, serving as keynote speakers at premier international conferences, collaborating with regional, national, and international colleagues, and contributing to the development of an open-access academic resource for student assessment in economics,” Canada said.
For staff employees of the year, Rick Phelps, custodial supervisor, was commended completing additional duties setting up classrooms for social distancing, allowing classes to resume on campus safely, receiving the service maintenance staff award.
Terri Butler, administrative secretary for the School of Business, received the support staff award, noted for supporting the department for 40 years and her willingness to take on additional responsibilities to promote student success.
Tara Grant, assistant registrar, received the professional staff award, recognized for taking on the challenge of reassigning classroom space to allow for social distanced classes on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.