Awards Presented at 2016 Learning Communities Institute

For the 16th 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 18th Annual Learning Communities Institute on Monday, May 9, 2016.

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 Lora Leigh Chrystal, Director of the Program for Women in Science and Engineering. Lora Leigh has done an incredible number of things to support the development and growth of learning communities on our campus. There are too many to mention all, but here are a few: Lora Leigh has worked with the WiSE program for 16 years helping thousands of students. Lora Leigh started coordinating the WiSE LC in 2000. In 2005 she created the WiSE Transfer learning community, and in 2007 she started the WiSE Sophomore LC. Collectively, the WiSE first year, sophomore, and transfer learning communities now serve over 500 women. Lora Leigh served for many years on the LC Advisory Committee and when we needed a new committee to focus on transfer students, Lora Leigh volunteered to lead that effort. She has also served on the Strengths committee, the Marketing committee, and the peer mentor committee. Over the years she has collaborated with a number of people across campus to assess and publish research on LC students. Since 2003 she has given presentations almost every year at the LC institute. Lora Leigh (like Corly Brooke) has always put students first. And she’s always done everything possible to make our LCs better.

Outstanding Innovations Award
This award honors members of the Iowa State community who have made new and creative contributions to learning communities.  
This first of this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Innovations Award is the Bridging Opportunities in Leadership and Diversity learning community. BOLD is an intentional safe space and interdisciplinary learning environment for over 60 students of color in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS). BOLD is a caring community for students to develop their leadership skills, make meaning of their complex identities, and ultimately create change on this campus. In addition to two courses  supporting individual and group identity development through a team-based learning model and intergroup dialogue, five BOLD team leaders use class time to delve into tough topics such as mental health stigmas in communities of color, stepping up to stop sexual assault, code-switching and professionalism, and student activism. Furthermore, there are 25 undergraduate peer mentors who volunteer their time to maintain a 1-to-1 mentoring relationship with a first-year BOLD student. BOLD is an innovative community powered by, and for, students of color.

The second outstanding innovations award goes to the Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers Learning Community. This past fall, the Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers Learning Community participated in a literacy outreach program, with the goal to provide a fun, literacy rich experience for families.  In addition to student developed activity stations at the events, Dr. Constance Beecher, Assistant Professor of Literacy and Extension wrote a grant and received children’s literacy books so that every child who attended could take a free book home.  The learning community also donated enough money that an additional book could be provided for every child. The goal to reach many families and provide an opportunity to have a rich literacy experience was accomplished, with total attendance of over 300 families.  Moreover, as future teachers, the learning community students had an opportunity to widen their experiences within the community context and examine the links between learning in the classroom and community outside of a traditional classroom-only practicum experience. The students grew as future teachers because of the time they spent preparing for and then providing the activity.  The students particularly appreciated participating in a service learning opportunity related to their future career and recommended that this innovative outreach be a part of the curriculum for next year’s learning community.

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 Karen Scheel, Senior Lecturer for Psychology.
Karen brought a new set of ideas and skills to the Psychology Freshman Learning Community.  She recognized that many students are poorly equipped to cope with the transition to college, and developed a new curriculum for the learning community, entitled, “The Psychology of Happiness.”  The curriculum is built on the positive psychology movement, and emphasizes that there are multiple components of well-being (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaningful activity, and achievement).  Karen guides students through a systematic consideration of each of the components of well-being.  She brings the message to students that they need to take care of themselves if they intend to help others. Students keep journals about their experiences and undertake a project to improve some aspect of their well-being.  They do volunteer work in the community as an important experience in “meaningful activity.” Karen is a true champion in the important challenge of helping students find a meaningful place for themselves at ISU.

The second recipient of the Champion Award is Howard Tyler, Professor of Animal Science and newly appointed Assistant Dean for Student Services in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Howard has demonstrated his commitment toward enhanced undergraduate learning experiences through his engagement as a coordinator for the Animal Science/Dairy Science/Pre-Vet Learning Community for the past six years. Most notably, within the learning community, Howard has engaged his students in deeper learning experiences through integrated Strengths and Emotional Intelligence initiatives, as well as providing content related to mental health first aid. He has provided the opportunity for his 350+ first-year students to become more self-aware, build upon their self-efficacy, address challenges associated with transitioning to the university, and to develop a strong community together. At the university-level, Howard has presented on the topics of Strengths and social media use at Learning Community workshops and Institute sessions. He continues to provide valuable insight into the needs and concerns of our learning community students and mentors. Howard models exemplary learning community coordination and inspires the many coordinators working at Iowa State University. 

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 Allie Parrott, undergraduate program coordinator for the Women in Science and Engineering Program. Allie serves as a key advocate for the WiSE learning community and the academic curricula that her students engage in during their undergraduate career. This year, Allie collaborated with the Leadership Studies program on curriculum alignment, service-learning projects and a grant that made a broader impact with the Leadership ISU course and student service in the Ames community. Allie’s talent for engaging students is evident in her interactions with students, professionals, and faculty. She remains committed to student learning and growth at the university, all of which are necessary to be a strong collaborator within learning communities. 

Jen Leptien, 294-1948