Collaborator, Champion, Partner, and Outstanding Innovations Awards Presented at 2005 Learning Communities Institute

For the fifth consecutive year, the Learning Communities Awards Committee honored individuals for their extraordinary contributions to learning communities at Iowa State University . In addition to the Outstanding Innovation Award presented in past years, Collaborator, Champion, and Partner honors were presented at the 7 th Annual Learning Communities Institute on Monday, May 9, 2005 . Todd Holcomb, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs joined Corly Brooke and Doug Gruenewald, Co-Directors of Learning Communities, in presenting the awards to this year’s nine recipients.

The primary criterion for the Outstanding Innovation Award is that members of the Iowa State community must initiate new and inspired contributions to the Learning Communities program. The Outstanding Innovation award was presented to Project Glean this year.

Project Glean is a service learning initiative that combines the efforts of interdisciplinary teams within the Horticulture and Food Science and Human Nutrition learning communities. Students learn about the procedures involved in harvesting, grading, packing, storing and distributing apples, while researching local food banks and charities in need of fresh produce. The students then deliver the produce to the organizations they find are in greatest need. This initiative has provided more than four tons of apples to local organizations over the past three years, while serving as an opportunity for faculty and student engagement and linking courses across the curriculum.

Members of the Project Glean team include:

  • Barbara Osborn, Program Coordinator, Horticulture
  • Gail Nonnecke, Professor, Horticulture
  • Jenny Aune, Lecturer, English
  • Anne Oldham, Academic Advisor, Food Sciences and Human Nutrition

The Collaborator Award honors individuals who have demonstrated the spirit of learning communities through collaboration. This year’s award recipients were Kurt Earnest and Mary Huba.

Kurt Earnest, Residential Life Counselor, Department of Residence

Kurt has been active in learning communities for many years, serving as the co-chair of the peer mentor subcommittee, training peer mentors, and organizing mentor research initiatives. Kurt has been instrumental in initiating the collaboration between residential learning communities, various other university departments and learning community coordinators. His dedication to learning communities has significantly enhanced the quality of our peer mentor program at ISU.

Mary Huba, Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Mary is committed to the advancement of learning communities and has demonstrated this dedication through comprehensive assessment of the program. Mary has served as co-chair of the Learning Community Assessment subcommittee, and has published a chapter on learning community assessment at ISU in a monograph series published by the National Learning Community Project. Her recent participation on the retention expansion study has identified the effective components of individual learning communities. This valuable information can be used to enhance the Learning Community program as a whole. Mary’s continued dedication to maintaining quality assessment of the learning community initiative has contributed to the success to the initiative and to the enhancement of student learning at Iowa State .

The Champion Award was developed this year to honor those individuals who significantly contributed to the advancement of learning communities. The recipients of the Champion Award were Steve Mickelson and Ann Coppernoll Farni.

Steve Mickelson, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Steve has been an innovative force within learning communities, developing course links, enhancing peer mentor involvement, and promoting learning community initiatives through his many Scholarship of Teaching and Learning publications on the topic. Steve has inspired other faculty and staff to become active members of the learning community family and has provided exceptional service through the years.

Ann Coppernoll Farni, Program Coordinator, Business Undergraduate Program

Ann has been highly involved with learning communities since it the program was launched. She has organized many presentations for students of the College of Business , as well as assisted in the expansion of the Business Learning Teams learning community. She has served as a dedicated member of the Learning Community Advisory Committee. Ann’s continual support of the Learning Communities program is greatly appreciated.

And finally, the Partner Award honors a university department that has provided outstanding collaboration and made direct contributions to the success of learning communities.

The Office of the Registrar received this year’s Partner Award for exceptional support and assistance with the Learning Communities program. The department has worked diligently to facilitate an efficient process by which learning community students can register for learning community courses. In addition, the department has collaborated with multiple learning community assessment initiatives to cooperatively provide needed data and related information. The assistance provided by the Office of the Registrar is essential to the success of learning communities.

Members of the award selection committee included: Ebby Luvaga, Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics, Heather Phillips, Coordinator of Residence for Academic Services in the Department of Residence, and Diana Shonrock, Associate Professor of Library.


Ebby Luvaga, Awards Committee Co-Chair, 294-5765

Doug Gruenewald, LC Institute Subcommittee Chair, 294-6428

Learning communities are small groups of students who typically take two or three courses together and may live in the same residence hall. Learning communities were started at Iowa State in 1995 by faculty and staff who wanted to improve undergraduate teaching and the learning experience for their students. In that year, 12 learning communities were offered and 19% of entering first-year students participated. In 2004, nearly 50 learning communities were offered and 47% of our entering first-year students participated.