Academic Affairs Office of the Provost
1201 S. State Street
Timme Center, CSS 310
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Associate 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 cohort. Spain meets with the students in small groups outside of class which could be at Starbucks, the David L. Eisler 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 David L. Eisler Center.