Awards Presented at 2011 Learning Communities Institute

For the 11th consecutive year, the Learning Communities Awards Committee honored individuals for their extraordinary contributions to learning communities at Iowa State University. The honors were presented at the 13th Annual Learning Communities Institute on Monday, May 9, 2011.

Corly Brooke Learning Community Advocate Award
This award recognizes an Iowa State faculty or staff member who has made significant contributions to the success of our students and learning communities.

This year’s recipient of the Corly Brooke Advocate Award is Dr. Larry Ebbers, University Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Larry graduated from Iowa State University in 1962. He taught high school in Iowa for a few years and then returned to Iowa State University in 1965 to work for the Dept. of Residence and earn his masters degree, and then Ph.D. He has chaired or co-chaired 193 Ph.D. committees and over 400 masters committees! He has won countless awards, has written extensively, and has given numerous professional presentations Larry wrote the book on learning communities….literally…. “The Powerful Potential of Learning Communities” published in 1999.

It was Larry Ebbers who got Iowa State University thinking about learning communities by bringing Vince Tinto to campus in 1994-that was really the birth of the learning community program. That event inspired many people to think about how to significantly change undergraduate education on this campus and resulted in the beginning of our grass roots movement. Larry continued to work with learning community efforts and was a key member of the 1998 LC work group that made a proposal that ultimately resulted in President Jischke allocating $1.5 million to fully launch the LC program. Larry continued as a member of the LC Advisory Board for several years and continues to this day teaching a LC class each year at the institute. We thank Larry Ebbers for his vision, wisdom, encouragement, and dedication to help to start one of the most successful programs in Iowa State University history.

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 Dayle Nickerson, central coordinator of the College of Human Sciences learning communities. 
Dayle spearheaded the successful College of Human Science annual Learning Community Day of Caring service-learning project in collaboration with the United Way. The first year 258 students collected bags of trash on campus and spread 10 truckloads of mulch on campus landscapes.  Dayle also implemented a reflective assessment activity for the students who participated. This year, Dayle expanded the program so that 290 learning community students engaged in four different service projects including improving the campus landscapes, preparing dresses for the Little Dresses for Africa program, making blankets for Project Linus and completion of various jobs needed by the Child Development Lab School. Through Dayle’s outstanding leadership, the College of Human Sciences Learning Communities serve not only Iowa State University students but others in our local community and beyond.

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 of two recipients of this year’s Champion Award is Carolyn Cutrona. As the department chair, Carolyn championed the creation of the Psychology learning community and went a step further by also requesting to be the instructor for the Learning Community Seminar. This is the first time in our 15 year history that a Department chair has played such a prominent role in the development and implementation of a learning community. She has worked tirelessly to develop a strong service-learning component structured around the theme “poverty in America”. Carolyn rallied support of the faculty by inviting them to discuss their areas of interest with small groups of Learning Communities and has hosted faculty-student dinners in her home as well. Several faculty members volunteered to have lunch and talk with the students which was a great success. Carolyn’s engagement with the learning community has been an inspiration for the students and the faculty in the program.

Our second recipient of the Champion Award is Helen Olson. For over ten years, Helen has led the Agricultural Community Encourages Success, also known as ACES, a residential learning community. Many ACES students come from small rural communities and can often feel overwhelmed by our large university.  Helen gets to know the students quickly and allows them to feel comfortable and “at home” in their new surroundings.  She is genuinely interested in each and every ACES student and wants to see them succeed.  Helen also does a great job with the ACES peer mentors in helping them develop as student leaders.  She provides encouragement and support, but allows the mentors to figure out the best path to becoming an effective peer mentor. Helen is an outstanding leader for ACES. Her co-coordinators and peer mentors have all benefited from her hard work, kindness, and enthusiasm for students. 

Learning Community Collaborator Award
This award honors an individual in the Iowa State community who has demonstrated the spirit of learning communities through collaboration.
There are three recipients of the Collaborator Award this year.
The first recipient is Jessica Haskins. Jessica has implemented many new programs for the Business Learning Teams this year. She met individually with each faculty member that presented to the BLT class offering assistance to make their presentations more interactive. Jessica also helped to transform the Leadership ISU program into an official learning community and facilitated the course. Jessica arranged for new speakers and assisted in the development of the LC’s assessment plans. In addition to her work with the Business Learning Teams and Leadership ISU learning communities, Jessica also collaborated by offering training sessions at peer mentor training in August, the January LC Institute and at the monthly peer mentor subcommittee meetings. We appreciate Jessica’s commitment to leadership development, her ability to organize and her dedication to student learning.

Our second recipient of the Collaborator Award is Suzanne Hendrich. Dr. Hendrich has demonstrated active interest and participation in learning communities for several years through numerous presentations about learning communities at national conferences, session facilitation at on-campus LC Institutes, involvement in departmental and college-level learning community meetings, participation and leadership in Project LEARN, and most recently, through her engagement with the Food Science and Human Nutrition Transfer learning community. Suzanne attended all of the weekly peer mentor meetings and provided guidance as they developed their major service-learning project this year. She also contributed to the FSHN 110 Professional and Educational Preparation course content that is connected directly to the learning community. Suzanne has exhibited a true spirit of collaboration and has helped advance the goals of the LC program through these efforts.

Our third recipient of the Collaborator Award is Jennifer Nissen. Even before development of the Leadership ISU learning community she coordinates, Jennifer Nissen has collaborated with the learning community program. She has served on the curriculum and faculty development committee and the peer mentor subcommittee for multiple years. She has offered training sessions at past peer mentor trainings, and presented on service-learning and leadership at various workshops and learning community institutes. Additionally, Jennifer has taken the initiative to engage other learning community coordinators in the implementation of service-learning within their curriculum. Jennifer is a trusted resource for leadership and service within the ISU community and her collaborative spirit toward the development of learning community students is greatly appreciated by all.

Learning Community Partner Award
This award honors a department or office that has partnered with and supported learning community initiatives at Iowa State University. 

This year’s recipient of the Partner award is ISU Dining. During the summer of 2010 Nancy Levandowski and Chef Everett Phillips of ISU Dining, partnered with Sarah Bender Miller of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Transfer learning community to develop a service-learning project to benefit those in need of food assistance. ISU Dining offered to provide funding through donating unused meal plan costs from students. By the end of the fall semester, the LC students opened a student-run food pantry on campus, to which ISU Dining provided support, funding, and food. Their collaboration with the development of this unique service-learning project was an exceptional learning experience for all involved.

Learning Community Scholarship Award
This award honors an individual or a research team that has significantly contributed to the scholarship of learning communities.
There are three recipients of the Scholarship Award this year. Jenny Aune, Andrea Dinkelman and Gail Nonnecke collaborated on a scholarly work titled Using an Interdisciplinary Approach to Teach Undergraduates Communication and Information Literacy Skills, which appeared in the Journal of Natural Resources & Life Sciences Education in 2010. The paper describes how one section of English 250 was developed specifically for horticulture majors. The course was comprised of five components – finding information sources, evaluating information sources, preparing an annotated bibliography, preparing a research paper, and preparing a research poster. The students reported that they thoroughly enjoyed, valued and learned from the subject matter experts in Library Science, English, and Horticulture. This collaboration, born out of the learning community model, serves as a wonderful example of the enhanced curricular experiences that learning communities can provide.

Jen Leptien, 294-1948