Advocate, Collaborator, Champion, and Outstanding Innovations Awards Presented at 2009 Learning Communities Institute

For the ninth consecutive year, the Learning Communities Awards Committee honored individuals for their extraordinary contributions to learning communities at Iowa State University. The Advocate, Collaborator, Champion, and Outstanding Innovation honors were presented at the 11th Annual Learning Communities Institute on Monday, May 11, 2009.

Corly Brooke Learning Community Advocate Award
This new award was created to honor the 10 years of leadership and service provided by Learning Community Co-director Corly Brooke (1998-2008). The award recognizes members of the Iowa State community who make contributions to the success of learning communities and the success of our students.

This year’s recipient of the Corly Brooke Advocate Award is University Professor Gail Nonnecke, from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Gail is clearly passionate about teaching, learning, and working with students. She has been working with the Horticulture Learning Community since it began. This fall Gail is starting the new Globe learning community for a new major in Global Resource Systems. In addition Gail has served on the LC Advisory Committee and has co-chaired the Curriculum and Faculty Development subcommittee since 2004. Gail is a highly skilled professional who brings enthusiasm, caring, and humor to her work with students and colleagues. She has contributed greatly to the advancement of LCs on campus. 

Outstanding Innovations Award
This award honors members of the Iowa State community who have made new and creative contributions to learning communities. 

This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Innovations Award is the Agricultural Business Learning Community for their monthly common reading book discussions on “Freakonomics.” Those actively involved in making this program a success are: Ebby Luvaga, Ron Deiter, Arne Hallam, Dermot Hayes, Russell McCullough, and Peter Orazem (in addition to the three peer mentors, Marla Stevenson, Lisa Tronchetti, and Scott Mennenga). Ag Business chose to focus on a very popular book to bring faculty and students together over lunch to interact, and cultivate an understanding and appreciation of the economics discipline. Faculty members facilitated lively discussions about specific chapters, and provided discussion questions. This program seamlessly rolled student-faculty interaction, student learning, and common reading into one outstanding activity. 

Learning Community Champion Award
This award honors an individual who has significantly contributed to the advancement of learning communities at Iowa State University. 

The first recipient of the Champion Award is Tom Polito. Tom was a member of the 1998 LC Working Group that obtained the original funding from President Jischke to advance the ISU LC program. For over a decade he has served on the LC Advisory Committee and the Assessment subcommittee. Tom was one of the first individuals in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to get on board with learning communities and champion the efforts of the staff. Tom has been supportive of individual learning communities and activities within the college. He participates in all of the learning community discussions and has been instrumental in helping faculty discover the possibilities of working with linked classes to benefit student learning. Tom also plays an integral role in the Ag Paq learning community, partnering with faculty in economics, English, and agronomy, and presenting on the learning community at conferences. 

The second recipient of the Champion Award is Pat Walsh. Pat was also a member of the 1998 Working Group. Pat has worked quietly, but mightily on the HDFS learning community from the start! She has put together a curriculum that includes: team building, dealing with homesickness, exam preparation, personal safety, community service, and self-reflection. She has designed the course so that students will feel comfortable and connected with the HDFS Department, learn life management skills, understand University policies and procedures, learn about career opportunities, and develop learning/study strategies. Pat has served as the core support for increasing enrollment, developing a two credit course, supervising peer mentors, administering the budget, maintaining communication, and planning social events. She continually upholds the highest expectations for quality and keeps learning at the center of the HDFS learning community.

Learning Community Collaborator Award
Learning Community Collaborator Award honors an individual who has demonstrated the spirit of learning communities through collaboration.

The first recipient of the Collaborator Award is Jane Jacobson. Jane’s learning community work and collaborations with academic and student services colleagues have contributed to major innovative changes in how learning community curricula are integrated into disciplines, undergraduate majors, or thematic programs. She worked on projects so that instructors may understand and value learning communities in their classes, and she provided leadership in the development of using a common reading within the structures of learning communities. She co-initiated and developed presentations to inform new faculty and teaching assistants about learning communities at the annual teaching symposium. She successfully worked with the experts in Library Science, assessment, and curricula to create an exemplary common reading program within our learning communities. Also, she was integral in collaboration with others in the early years of the Institute, co-chairing the then multi-day event.

The second recipient of the Collaborator Award is Mack Shelley. As a long-standing member of the Assessment subcommittee, Mack is committed to enhancing learning communities at Iowa State. Over the years, Mack’s behind-the-scenes analyses provided critical evidence regarding the success of learning communities. Our ability to quantify the retention and revenue benefits of learning communities would simply not be possible without Mack’s support. In addition, Mack has supported ongoing research to explore specific program activities that enhance Learning Community success—including an in-depth study that demonstrated the positive impact of peer mentors. Over the years, Mack has also provided ongoing support through multiple workshops and Institute presentations. Mack clearly demonstrates a collaborative spirit in his humble and ongoing support of Learning Communities.

Heather Phillips, Awards Committee Co-Chair, 294-7593 
Jen Leptien, LC Institute Subcommittee Chair, 294-1948