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Academic Affairs Honors Ferris Faculty with Awards

Ferris State University faculty who displayed excellence in their professional endeavors have been recognized with prestigious awards by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Awards were presented this spring during the annual Employee Service Award Celebration in the Rankin Student Center Dome Room.

Members of the campus community nominate their colleagues for each of the Academic Affairs awards. Each award is assigned a committee of faculty and staff members to evaluate the nominations and determine the recipient.

“So many of our faculty are just outstanding at what they do and truly embody a passion and work ethic worth emulating,” said Fritz Erickson, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “These awards provide our faculty with an opportunity to be recognized for excellence in areas such as teaching, scholarship, service, diversity enhancement and academic advising.  We are delighted to celebrate with these individuals as they have demonstrated outstanding commitment to better our students, our university and our community.”

Academic Affairs award recipients include:

Academic Scholar Award – Kim ColvertColvert

Colvert, a chemistry professor in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education who has been with Ferris since 1988, was awarded the Academic Scholar Award. The award recognizes a member of the academic community who has demonstrated excellence in research, inquiry and/or scholarship, with scholarship emphasis on discovery, integration, application and teaching.

Colvert spends her summers, and has spent several sabbatical leaves, conducting collaborative research at the University of Kansas. Her application of this research provides Ferris students with the opportunity to conduct new research experiments in her biochemistry and biology lab courses. The results of her research have been presented in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences, including the 15th International Congress on Photosynthesis in Beijing, China.  Her personal experience and contemporary insight into academic research makes her a valuable mentor for Ferris students, and she has mentored more than 20 Ferris undergraduates in independent study projects that have come directly out of her own research work.

Adjunct Teaching Excellence Award – Nell HillHill

The Adjunct Teaching Excellence Award recognizes a member of Ferris’ adjunct faculty who demonstrates excellence in teaching through innovative teaching strategies and exemplary efforts to ensure the quality in the students’ learning experiences.

Hill, an adjunct instructor in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, has a teaching style that resonated positively with students. In letters of nomination for the award, students described her as welcoming, inviting, patient and enthusiastic. One said “she is, by far, the best foreign language instructor I’ve ever had.  Her enthusiasm for teaching French cannot be surpassed. It is evident in every activity we undertake in class, and it has never wavered in the four semesters I’ve been in her classes. Her bright humor, knowledge and passion have made going to French class not only an enjoyable experience, but one to look forward to every day.” A colleague also remarked about her dedication to students and the hundreds of hours she spends with students outside of the classroom.

Hill has taught French, English, English as a Second Language and First Year Seminar courses.

Diversity Enhancement Award -- MicBerghoefhael Berghoef

Berghoef, a social work professor in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education who joined Ferris in 1997, received the Diversity Enhancement Award, which is conferred upon faculty or staff who demonstrate a significant commitment to enhancing diverse and harmonious relationships at Ferris.

Berghoef is an active advocate for diversity efforts at Ferris State University. He has been a continuous promoter for creating a campus that is inclusive to all students, faculty and staff, and he has led numerous initiatives to create learning experiences (films, speakers, discussions) that promote student understanding of people that differ in age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background. He is a founding member of the Alliance for Ferris Employees and has worked hard to help secure other eligible adult benefits for Ferris faculty and staff.  Berghoef also is a Safe Place LGBT Faculty Ally Committee chair and trainer. 

Berghoef’s passion for diversity enhancement extends beyond the Ferris campus. He works to promote understanding of diverse cultures through the student study abroad experience he leads in El Salvador each spring. Since 2000, he has worked with the Jim Crow Museum as a facilitator and national presenter. Berghoef also has earned three grants since 2008 to support gerontology research, including the Ferris Foundation Exceptional Merit Grant “Promoting Healthy Aging through Interactive Technologies” that provided students with technology for a variety of interactive activities to enhance cognitive and physical functioning for Mecosta County senior citizens to promote healthy aging. He has presented at a multitude of conferences on topics related to diversity, acceptance and social justice.

Distinguished Service Award – John SchmidtSchmidt

Schmidt is a professor of Construction Technology and Management in the College of Engineering Technology who received the Distinguished Service Award for engaging in exemplary service in the local, state, national and/or international community.

Schmidt’s service to students comes in many forms, including serving as advisor for Ferris’ chapter of the international construction honors society, Sigma Lambda Chi. During his first year as advisor, the society received international recognition for service to its major and has continued to receive top awards the past eight years, most recently, and for the fourth time, as the International Outstanding Chapter. 

Schmidt just completed six years as director of the Associated Schools of Construction, Great Lakes Region, representing 28 universities from a six-state area and developing and conducting the annual regional conference and student competition in the Chicago area.

Schmidt, who has been at Ferris since 1997, has provided service in many ways, including as program liaison to the American Council for Construction Education, as chair for the Promotion Committee and as a member the School of Built Environment Strategic Planning Committee. He also was a member of the Academic Senate, the Graduate and Professional Education Task Force and the IT Standards Committee, and was Marshal and Mace Bearer for Commencement. 

Schmidt also is actively involved in service to his community through leadership in the Boy Scouts of America, the Mecosta-Osceola Chapter of the American Red Cross and the City of Big Rapids Planning Commission.

Outstanding Academic Advisor – Christine Vonder HVonder Haaraar

Vonder Haar, an associate professor of Languages and Literature in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, has been with Ferris since 2005. She was honored with the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award, which recognizes someone who has demonstrated excellence in such areas as providing superior service to students and/or developing innovative advising strategies and tools that ultimately help students achieve success at Ferris.

Vonder Haar was acknowledged by her colleagues and students for her desire to help students in and out of the classroom. She has served as a faculty advisor to numerous student organizations, including the Newman Center, Fulbright Student Scholars and Shakespeare Interest Group. Vonder Haar maintains regular communication with Ferris statewide coordinators to ensure that students at these sites receive exceptional advising. Since 2006, she has participated in the Select 60 mentor program and the Honors “Lunch and Learn” as a lecturer for Honors Program students. Over the years, she has worked with students in Pharmacy, Optometry, Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Technology and other programs to complete their applications and letters for further educational opportunities. 

As her award committee noted, she “works tirelessly with faculty associated with the English Education Program.” She also is a recommended dissertation advisor for Ferris’ Doctorate in Community College Leadership program and a leader in establishing intensive individualized advising and online advising.

During the annual Employee Service Award Celebration, the university also recognized employees completing five-year increments of full-time continuous service, as well as those who have demonstrated exemplary service, including:

Distinguished Teacher – Clifton Franklund

Distinguished StaffNicholas Campau, Student Life coordinator; Deborah Ducat, School of Education and Human Services secretary; Bryan Marquardt, Dining Services assistant director

Distinguished Team – Commencement Team, coordinated by Sherry Hayes and including Tim Bowman, Physical Plant commencement coordinator; Elaine Kamptner, commencement scripts coordinator; Brandi Behrenwald, Student Alumni Gold Club coordinator; Christa Bull, commencement brochure designer

RSO Advisor of the YearLaura Dix, professor, College of Business

Opportunity 125Tracy Powers, assistant dean, College of Professional and Technological Studies