Collaborator, Champion, Partner, and Outstanding Innovations Awards Presented at 2006 Learning Communities Institute

For the sixth consecutive year, the Learning Communities Awards Committee honored individuals for their extraordinary contributions to learning communities at Iowa State University. The Collaborator, Champion, Partner and Outstanding Innovation honors were presented at the 8th Annual Learning Communities Institute on Monday, May 8, 2006.

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 the WiSE learning community this year.

WiSE consistently and effectively demonstrates its commitment to broadening the academic, social, and leadership opportunities of the world’s future scientists and engineers through innovative approaches. The WiSE learning community demonstrates a collaborative spirit as revealed by its partnership with the Department of Residence to offer clusters in seven residence halls. Community outreach and development is evident in the spring program, Weekend Getaway, during which high school students spend time on campus with hosts from WiSE and participate in a series of events designed to prepare them for a smooth transition to Iowa State. WiSE members also benefit from a vibrant leadership curriculum. Each year, WiSE students attend the Cargill Leadership Retreat where they discuss leadership styles, community service projects, and plan initiatives for the year. As a supplement to the retreat, peer mentors work collaboratively with faculty and staff to facilitate weekly leadership activities. The WiSE program offers quality programming to WiSE students and maintains innovative practices to enhance students’ learning experiences. 

The award was presented to the following WiSE learning community representatives: 
• Lora Leigh Chrystal, Program Coordinator, Program for Women in Science and Engineering
• Karen Zunkel, Program Manager, Program for Women in Science and Engineering
• Emily Wilcox, Graduate Assistant, Program for Women in Science and Engineering

The Collaborator Award honors individuals who have demonstrated the spirit of learning communities through collaboration. This year’s award recipients were Katherine LyonsJenny Aune, and Mari Hall.

Katherine Lyons, Student Services Specialist, College of Engineering
Katherine joined the college administration in June 2003 and is a vital member of the learning community program. One of Katherine’s nominators writes: “Over the past three years, Katherine has worked closely with learning community coordinators, creating a college-based task team, has set up learning opportunities for the coordinators, and has “institutionalized” learning communities within the college. She has also joined her peers at the university-level, developing promotional pieces for the university, as well as the college. She has more than met the challenge given to her as the college learning community coordinator.”

Jenny Aune, Lecturer, Department of English 
Jenny is the instructor of the English linked courses for the Horticulture and Microbiology learning communities. Jenny’s award nominator states: “Jenny has worked tirelessly to combine the goals of her learning community composition courses with those of linked courses in Horticulture and Microbiology. As a result, her courses are intensely disciplinary-specific and collaborative….Disciplinary barriers and time constraints can severely limit the potential doe our learning communities to share curriculum and instruction. Therefore, Jenny’s passion and success are all the more remarkable. By bringing together faculty, staff, and people from the community, she has created a wonderfully collaborative space that practices the ideals of the learning community initiative.”

Mari Hall, Lecturer, Department of English
Mari teaches the English 104 and English 105 learning community courses that link with Agricultural Engineering and Agricultural Systems Technology courses. She has also recently taken on teaching English 314 for students in the junior learning community. Mari’s nominators write: Mari has been a great team player by helping to develop creative materials for her classes that bring meaning to our students’ development of composition and technical writing skills. She attends our classes a few times during the semester to present writing guidance as students work on design projects. We have also sat in Mari’s classes and have always been impressed with her ability to work with our students in a caring, yet rigorous, way.”

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 Lora Leigh Chrystal and Jim Colbert.

Lora Leigh Chrystal, Program Coordinator, Program for Women in Science and Engineering 
Lora Leigh has been the coordinator for the WiSE learning communities since spring 2000. Lora Leigh’s nominator writes: “Under her leadership, the WiSE communities have grown to serving over 180 incoming women in engineering and science each year. Over the past six years, Lora Leigh has been an innovator, dedicated committee member and leader, presenter at conferences, and collaborator with others across campus, working to elevate the success of learning communities at Iowa State.”

Jim Colbert, Associate Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Jim has been a champion and advocate for learning communities since the “early days” at Iowa State. His initial involvement with the program was through BEST, one of Iowa State’s first official learning communities. As Jim’s nominator states: “Jim demonstrated an adminrable level of commitment, passion, and enthusiasm in his involvement with both the BEST and BETAL learning communities. He has worked tirelessly to find and create ways to enhance student learning and the student experience. In fact, it is his devotion to integrating learning and experience to create a more meaningful impact that is the hallmark of his contributions to the learning communities at Iowa State.”

And finally, the Partner Award honors a university department that has provided outstanding collaboration and made direct contributions to the success of learning communities.
This year’s recipient of the Partner Award is the Department of English Learning Community Collaborators. Perhaps the strongest course linkage within the Iowa State learning community program is with English. This year, English partnered with approximately 20 learning communities, and some of those have more than one section of English. Julie Minkler-Tsivakou will be accepting the award on behalf of the Department of English Learning Community Collaborators. 

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, Julie Minkler-Tsivakou, Senior Lecturer in English, and Jennifer Leptien, Program Coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and Learning Communities.

Ebby Luvaga, Awards Committee Co-Chair, 294-5765 
Doug Gruenewald, LC Institute Subcommittee Chair, 294-6428