Academic Affairs Awards

2019 Award Nominations are closed.

So many of our colleagues embody a passion and work ethic worth emulating. These individuals positively impact the lives of others through their professional commitments. Every year, we ask the members of our campus community to nominate their deserving colleagues for the Academic Affairs Awards. Each award is assigned an award committee comprised of representative faculty members from our academic colleges and/or individuals related to the purpose of the award. 

Click below for a description of each award including evaluation criteria, eligibility, and nomination process. Submissions for all 2019 awards were due by 5 pm Monday, February 11, 2019.

Note: Due to budgetary constraints, the Richard W. Griffin Political Engagement Award will not be given out this year. 


If you have questions, please contact Carrie Franklund at [email protected] or (231) 591-3534.

See Academic Affairs' Awards in History page


2018 Academic Awards Recipients

  • Christian PetersonChristopher Redker, Associate Professor of Psychology, has been chosen as the 2018 Academic Scholar Award recipient for his impressive record of scholarly work and promotion of student learning in the classroom and laboratory. Ferris State University embraces a broad definition of scholarship that includes emphasis on discovery, integration, application, and/or teaching.

    “Dr. Redker is an invaluable member of our department and does a great deal of research that benefits our students, the Psychology program, and the University,” writes nominator and Professor of Geography Jennifer Johnson. “His ongoing collaboration with psychologists from other universities (including the University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, and the University of Cincinnati) strengthens the Ferris reputation in the academic community and continues to bring fresh perspectives into the Psychology program. His recent work as a reviewer for journal articles and NSF proposals furthers his impact.”

    Redker’s current research is in two independent tracks and has garnered national attention: consumer attitude formation/change via evaluative conditioning and effects of media on reviewer traits. His research has also lead him to co-author an open-access textbook that reduces costs for students and can be used in sociology, political science, and social work, as well as psychology courses.

    In addition to pursuing his own research agenda, Redker is deeply committed to his students and writes that he “provides an opportunity for them to learn not only about psychological issues, but also how science works and what it looks like in practice.” He considers his laboratory to be an extension of the classroom and believes it is important to integrate research experiences into all of his courses. Some of his other scholarly pursuits include facilitating the research training of his students through independent study and directed research experiences, acting as an RSO mentor, working with honors symposium projects, and collaborating on research with Ferris colleagues outside his discipline.

    Psychology Instructor Daniel Boyll notes Redker’s dedication in mentoring students and fostering their professional growth. “Chris provides students with meaningful experiences that aim to prepare them for graduate study…he mentors students in his laboratory and I know that many have achieved great success after leaving Ferris State University.” Honors Program Director Peter Bradley also speaks of Redker’s impact on current and future students, “Chris not only continues to support our students individually through research, he has cultivated a culture in which research is the norm, and as a result, the Department attracts a large number of high-achieving students.”

    In addition to his teaching and research, Redker serves as the Program Coordinator for the Psychology program. Boyll wrote in a support letter of Redker’s commitment to the quality of the program. “Chris put great effort into revamping our program-level assessment methods and creating the report. The Academic Program Review Council was very impressed with the product of this work.”

    Redker earned a PhD in Applied Experimental Psychology with a specialization in Social Psychology, a MS in General/Experimental Psychology, and a BS in Psychology, all from Central Michigan University.

    Redker and other recipients of the 2018 Academic Affairs Awards were recognized on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at the Employee Service Awards in the University Center.

  • Sarah RescoeKnown for her exceptional teaching and devotion in helping each student be successful, Sarah Rescoe was chosen for the 2018 Adjunct Teaching Excellence Award.

    “Ms. Rescoe exemplifies the very best of our teaching faculty at Ferris, providing within her classroom not just the basics, but also an ethical community where excellence, learning, diversity, collaboration, and opportunity for growth and innovation allow her students to thrive,” writes Professor and Library Instruction Coordinator Kristen Motz in her recommendation letter. “Once they [students] move on, they carry with them intellectual curiosity and a breadth of global knowledge that will support them well in the future.”

    Student and department evaluations attest to Rescoe commitment to her students. “Professor Rescoe devoted quality time to evaluating each student’s work and providing feedback tailored to each student’s ability. She taught in a way that met the needs of all students with a wide range of abilities,” writes former student Hannah Lamberg. She is more than willing to spend her time helping her students, both past and present, according to former student Rachel Lutzko, “Her continuous devotion and love for her subject and students is clearly demonstrated in everything she does.”

    “…. Dr. Rescoe is one of Ferris State’s finest classroom instructors… she constantly redesigns her courses to appeal to students’ interests and address their strengths and weaknesses, a process that includes choosing a new interdisciplinary theme for her classes each semester,” writes nominator Christian Peterson, Humanities professor, “… few professors develop such an excellent rapport with their students. Because her students sense that she cares about their success in the classroom and in life, they often make a more concerted effort to meet her expectations and do work they might not do for other teachers.”

    In her statement of teach philosophy, Roscoe believes that “educators … have a responsibility to use pedagogy wisely to empower students to become more adaptable …and to provide learners with the illumination necessary to encourage critical thinking, conflict resolution, and collaboration.” To this end, she uses “activities, readings, and assignments around interdisciplinary themes or core concepts–such as diversity, globalization, resilience, post-truth, social justice, etc.–…to introduce different perspectives/points of view and to emphasize social and civic issues that have a bearing on the quality of students’ lives.”

    Collaborating with other faculty members, both on campus and around the globe, Rescoe shares her teaching methods with them while learning new methods as well. She has created interdisciplinary courses and is a champion of Open Education Resources, which save students money. With her colleagues in FLITE, Rescoe has created and employed innovative teaching methods, active learning modules, and game-based assignments, introducing a new concept to faculty on campus called game-based learning.

    Rescoe earned a Ph.D. in Global Development Studies and a MS in International Development, both from Tulane University; a MA in English Literature from Lincoln College, Oxford University; and a BA in English from Ferris State University.

    Rescoe and other recipients of the 2018 Academic Affairs Awards were recognized on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at the Employee Service Awards in the University Center.

  • Jennifer JohnsonContent coming soon.


  • Deborah RockmanDeborah Rockman has witnessed significant change at the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, where she has taught Drawing for 35 years. The textbook author and award-winning artist has become the first KCAD faculty member to receive Ferris’ Distinguished Teacher Award. She was selected for the honor by an Academic Senate committee supporting this process for the University’s Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

    Rockman, who had chaired the Drawing and Printmaking programs at Kendall, will retire from full-time instruction at the end of the current academic year. She said colleagues made the nomination, then she submitted an essay to a review committee as part of the selection process.

    “I am so thrilled to receive this honor, particularly in my last year,” Rockman said. “I am happy and sad at the same time, to be coming to this point. For nearly 60 years, I have headed back to school each fall, and it is hard to consider being away from my colleagues, many of whom are my friends.”

    Rockman said that program development has been an interesting aspect of her time on the KCAD faculty, along with experiencing a wide range of administrative philosophies over that period.

    “I came from what was then Moorhead State University, in Minnesota, to Kendall,” Rockman said. “At that time, the college operated in several small buildings on College Avenue Northeast, with our offices in trailers nearby. I have seen a zillion changes, since Sculpture, Photography, Printmaking, Drawing and Painting were all under one department in those first days, and the college now offers separate Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees along with a Master of Fine Arts program.”

    Rockman was the first woman to be awarded the rank of full professor at KCAD, in 1992. She said there have been interesting changes throughout her tenure with the school.

    “I was able, with the support of then-President Oliver Evans, to develop a BFA program in Drawing,” Rockman said. “Oliver oversaw Kendall’s merger process with Ferris, which served the college well, and has been a great benefit to the University. While I was chair of the Drawing program, I was able to bring Stephen Halko to the faculty, and he now is our chair.” 

    Halko, an associate professor, said it is a difficult task to capsulize Rockman’s contributions to their department, and to KCAD.

    “She was the first person I researched when I considered joining the faculty,” Halko said. “While reading her website, I was struck with the feeling that I knew her. It was as if we’d met before though we never had. Beyond being a committed and passionate advocate for our program and the college, it is the friendship and support we share as colleagues that I cherish the most. She even came to the hospital at 11 p.m. to spend the night with my wife and me until our daughter was born the following afternoon. That is just the kind of person Deb is.”

    The professor has been featured in more than 100 solo, group and invitational exhibitions throughout the United States and Canada, and her work is included in the permanent collections of Steelcase, Inc., Western Michigan University and the South Bend Regional Museum of Art. Rockman said she will be spending time, in her transition from full-time instruction, to develop a second edition of The Art of Teaching Art, which was first published in November 2000, and a fourth edition of Drawing Essentials, A Complete Guide to Drawing, which was also produced and distributed by Oxford University Press, beginning in 2008.

    “I will be an adjunct, teaching a graduate course on art instruction next fall,” Rockman said. “The Drawing Essentials text is illustrated with the works of Kendall students and I am looking forward to having the time to focus on producing new editions of both textbooks.”

    Halko said their department and the college will benefit from Rockman’s continued involvement with KCAD students.

    “It’s just another testament to Deborah’s selflessness,” Halko said. “She has so much to give. Her years of experience at KCAD, in-depth knowledge of drawing, and personal approach to teaching are assets that will leave a lasting legacy. She literally wrote the book on drawing and teaching art. As she moves into this new phase of her career, she will surely give us more stories to tell.”

    Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Paul Blake said Rockman’s tribute is well deserved.

    “Deborah is an outstanding choice both as a distinguished teacher and also as the first recipient and representative from KCAD,” Blake said. “This award is an excellent culmination of a teaching career that has spanned 37 years and has always been hallmarked by passion for her discipline and passion and compassion for conveying it to students.”

    KCAD President Leslie Bellavance said Rockman’s dedication has been an inspiration, to her colleagues as well as her students.

    “Deb is someone who cares deeply about KCAD and the experiences our students have day in and day out. She’s ready to ask the hard questions and lend her perspective to conversations surrounding the college and its mission, as well as the value of creativity in the world at-large,” said Bellavance. “She builds individuals up and nurtures their growth, and in doing so, she motivates everyone around her to do the same.”

    Rockman received her honor at the annual Employee Service Awards on April 25 in Ferris’ University Center Ballroom.

    The above content is from the Ferris News Service found here

  • Olukemi FadayomiContent coming soon.


  • Not awarded in 2018.

  • Kali VanLangenContent coming soon.

  • Christine Vonder HaarContent coming soon.

  • Dawn SchaveyDawn Schavey has been selected as the 2018 Outstanding Academic Advisor of the Year for her superior service to students, as well as for her innovative practices and outstanding assistance to all advisors at Ferris’ off-campus locations.

    Through her hard work in Big Rapids and in Grand Rapids, Schavey has impacted many lives. In her support letter, Constance Kline, a Bachelor of Science in Integrative Studies student, writes, “Dawn is a strong advocate for the mission of Ferris State University, and her commitment to the achievement of the academic and personal lives of the students she serves is evident.”

    Schavey’s dedication and care of her advising students along with her comprehensive understanding of what each student needs in terms of support is a constant theme in all of her support letters. Jeff Bean, Program Advising, Placement Coordinator for Eastern Michigan, and teacher, admits that “this is the person I would want as the advocate for my child if they were to attend Ferris, and I am glad she is working with me as a colleague because I know she will fight the good fight.”

    Assistant Dean of Extended and International Operations Tracy Hilty adds her recommendation. “[Shavey] supports students through the process of prospective student through admitted student. She wants students to have a positive experience and to know exactly what they need to complete to meet their educational goals. For example, she has met a student on a weekend because that is the only time they could meet.”

    Schavey has been the Senior Academic Advisor for Ferris State University Extended and International Operations for the past five years. She has also served as a past Director of Student Services, held annual statewide advisor trainings, and continues to work diligently on many technical aspects that lead to student success. Transfer student Tyler Ziomkowski observed that this award “was earned through years of being 100% focused and committed to the students she serves.” Schavey has worked in the Student Affairs field with experience in student services, enrollment, admissions, financial aid, housing, orientation, and registration so she is able to deliver the highest level of support for her advising students.

    In her nominee statement, Schavey says that her advising philosophy is best defined by Chickering (1969), who states that “the fundamental purpose of academic advising is to help students become effective agents for their own lifelong learning and personal development. Our relationships with students … all should aim to increase their capacity to take charge of their own existence.”  Knowing the student and making them feel appreciated, understanding University policies, procedures, and resources, developing innovative advising strategies, and using recruitment and retention efforts are all the things Schavey brings into every advising meeting.

    Schavey earned a Master of Education in College Student Affairs Leadership, and a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in family services, both from Grand Valley State University. She has worked at Ferris since 2006.

    Schavey and other recipients of the 2018 Academic Affairs Awards were recognized on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at the Employee Service Awards in the University Center.

  • Anne SpainAssociate Professor of Biology Anne Spain has been chosen as the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding First-Year Advocate Award. Spain developed and is the founding director of the new POSIT (Pharmacy and Optometry Scholars in Training) program.

    “Anne Spain has been an outstanding first-year advocate ever since coming to Ferris in 2011,” nominator and Professor of Biology Mary Murnik writes. “I admire Anne’s dedication to her students and her clear interest in their learning and in them as individuals.”

    The POSIT program’s purpose is to recruit, retain, educate, and graduate a diverse cohort of pre-pharmacy and pre-optometry students. First-year students in the program live in North Hall in a learning community. The students take their first year of Biology and Chemistry classes together with Spain as their FSUS instructor. She also teaches BIOL 122 for this group. Spain meets with the students in small groups outside of class which could be at Starbucks, the University Center, or in her office. Her goal is to establish a sense of community and a source of support for the students. The small group size allows students to get to know each other and be comfortable in discussing their Ferris experiences.

    Though the POSIT program has been in existence only one year, indicators show that students are more willing to ask for help and that “barriers that Pre-Pharmacy and Pre-Optometry students face appear to be lowered, allowing these students to thrive as long as they put in the work,” Murnik reports. “Preliminary assessments of the POSIT program have demonstrated that it increases academic success and retention of these students.”

    While Spain has been instrumental in the success of the POSIT program, she also teaches 100-level biology courses to Biology and Health Professions students where she is able to make a positive impact on these first-year students. “In classes, Anne models the thinking and reasoning that will help students learn. Moreover, she cares about each student as an individual, helping students to not feel overwhelmed, sharing ideas about how to study, or how to understand a situation, and how to navigate the university world,” Murnik notes. Spain is an “enthusiastic and dedicated first-year student advocate.”

    Spain earned a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Oklahoma and a BS in Biology from Central Michigan University.  

    Spain and other recipients of the 2018 Academic Affairs Awards were recognized on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at the Employee Service Awards in the University Center.


  •  Kristi ScholtenContent coming soon.