Awards Presented at 2015 Learning Communities Institute

For the 15th 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 17th Annual Learning Communities Institute on Monday, May 11, 2015.

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 Jane Jacobson, from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Jane has done an incredible number of things to support the development and growth of learning communities on our campus. She has helped start or coordinate the following LCs: Cross Cultural Learning Community – with Jane Edwards, 1998 - 2004, CEO LC (Connections, Explorations, and Opportunities) – for Open Option students, 1999, First CLASS Learning Community - with Dan Rice and other LAS colleagues for Open Option students, 2003 - 2006, LAS Frontiers & LAS Connections – 2005 to present, and The Sky’s the Limit – consultant for the F2015 initiative coordinated by Clark Coffman. She has served for many years with LC Advisory Committee and the LC Curriculum Committee (and other various titles) from 2005 – 2013. Jane’s worked within her college of LAS to support LCs as the LAS College LC coordinator – 2001 - 2013 and Course availability / LAS LC consultant – part of her current role as Director of Student Enrollment, Advising and Career Services for LAS beginning in 2013. Additionally, one of her original volunteer duties, that was critical to the success of our program, was to co-chair the LC Institute from 2001 – 2004. Jane has always put students first and she has always done everything possible to make our learning communities program stronger.

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 recipients of the Outstanding Innovations Award are Jenny Gibbs and Shannon Grundmeier of the Chemical Engineering learning community. As coordinators of the Chemical Engineering first-year learning community, Shannon and Jenny developed a brand new curriculum for their LC seminar course. The new curriculum focuses on fostering a strong relationship between peer mentors and their students, as well as an exploration of students’ Strengths in relationship to their personal, academic and professional goals.  The first change involved allowing two peer mentors to facilitate the course on a weekly basis and the second major change was to restructure the grading system for the class so that the students would earn “peer mentor points” as a method for building trusting relationships between the peer mentors and students. Additionally, the peer mentors facilitated a number of activities to assist students in their reflection upon their Strengths, allowing the students to earn “Strengths points”. The students had an overwhelmingly positive opinion of this experience. As one students shared, “This course was a fun way to get to know the other people in the learning community and learn about myself and my strengths”.

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 three, recipients of this year’s Champion Award is John Burnett, Academic Adviser for Natural Resource and Ecology Management. John was among some of the first to adopt the Learning Community concept when he developed the NREM freshmen learning community 16 years ago. In 2008, he saw the need to assist the transition of new transfer and continuing students in the department so he developed the NREM Transitions learning community. John also serves as an exemplary supervisor to the peer mentors in the NREM program and has received multiple awards in this area. As one of his student’s states, “John is constantly planning and scheduling guest speakers, and field trips relevant to the learning community’s interests. John Burnett has reached out to students in a way that positively supports their future endeavors. I strongly support him for this honor because he is not only a spectacular Learning Community Supervisor but he is an extraordinary advisor, mentor and friend.”

Our second recipient of the Champion Award is Anne Oldham, Academic Adviser for Food Science & Human Nutrition. Anne was instrumental in getting the FSHN learning community program started and mentoring her colleagues in the process of preparing and organizing the peer mentors. As her nominator states, “Everything Anne does is with intention and purpose, including with the LC. She has encouraged the students to organize faculty lunches with the students, a souper supper to raise money for needy organizations, field trips to local farms and food distributors, and together with the horticulture learning community had the students pick apples from the University orchard, sort and package them and deliver them to the food pantry. She is passionate about making an impact and improving the lives of others. Anne truly loves doing these activities with students – this is clearly evident when she talks about them. Her enthusiasm is infectious! She is self-motivated and driven to create the best environment for our students.”

Our third recipient of the Champion award is Devna Popejoy-Sheriff, Academic Adviser for Industrial and Manufacturing Systems. 
Devna has been a learning community coordinator in the Industrial Engineering department for 11 years. She began with the IDEAL first-year learning community and later developed the IDEAL Transfer learning communities to support transfer students in the department. In addition to being a dedicated coordinator and outstanding mentor supervisor, Devna has spent the past 8 years co-chairing the Learning Community Task Team in the College of Engineering. As Devna’s nominator shared, she brings new perspectives and ideas to the task team each year, such as planning a peer mentor social with peer mentors from across the entire COE for the first week of F15 term and brainstorming topics for the annual college retreat. Devna continues to develop fresh ideas for our LCs and most importantly, she follows through with implementing them. She is someone who clearly loves learning communities and students.

Learning Community Collaborator Award
This award honors members in the Iowa State community who have demonstrated the spirit of learning communities through collaboration. The recipient of the Collaborator Award this year is the Construction Engineering Program within the College of Engineering. The Construction Engineering Program supports the use of faculty mentors, who meet with one or two groups of students of students to share insights about themselves and their careers. Students in the learning community have the opportunity to have time with the faculty members, to learn about their personal experiences, and to ask them questions about industry.  Additionally, the Cornerstone learning community is very appreciative of the support they receive from the ConE Program Professor-in-Charge, Dr. Charles Jahren, who has committed donations to fund group tutoring sessions which provides academic and financial assistance for the students, and introduces students to the tutoring support available for the future. The continued collaboration between the ConE faculty, Professor-in-Charge and tutoring program help make the Cornerstone learning community among the best on campus.

Learning Community Partner Award
This award honors a department or office that has partnered with and supported learning community initiatives at Iowa State University. The recipient of the Partner award is the Leadership Studies Program. This fall, the WiSE and Leadership ISU learning communities partnered with the Leadership Studies Program to offer CLPS 270: Campus Leadership Development to students enrolled in WiSE and Leadership ISU learning communities. Dr. Stephens and Dr. Beatty met with WiSE and LISU coordinators often during the planning process to coordinate logistics and search for additional funding. Their support and flexibility directly impacted the growth of the LISU learning community. Dr. Beatty met weekly with the LISU peer mentors, explaining his pedagogy, helping them with creating activities they could use with their students, and generally being a collaborator in all levels of the learning community. Overall responses from student surveys and focus groups revealed that students developed the confidence to become involved with organizations on and off campus. Additionally, the WiSE program experienced a significant growth in students applying for leadership positions. Due to the success of the partnership, the CL PS 270 course and program will be offered in the fall of 2015 to LISU and WiSE learning community participants. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Leadership Studies Program in support of student success and retention.

Learning Community Scholarship Award
This award honors members of the Iowa State community who have contributed to the scholarship of learning communities. The recipients of the Scholarship award are Cinzia Cervato and Dave Flory from the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences. Cinzia and Dave collaborated on a scholarly work titled Earth, Wind, & Fire: A learning community approach to build ties between degree programs in a geoscience department which appeared in the Journal of Geoscience Education in 2015. The paper describes the various components of the Earth, Wind and Fire learning community and how “…the learning community provides the students with opportunities to interact with each other, and with faculty, and (how) it helps them in the transition from high school to a large public university.” It further describes how “the learning community has a positive impact in major retention to the programs and is well-received by the students.”

Jen Leptien, 294-1948