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Four receive awards for faculty and staff excellence

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Four employees at Aquinas College have been awarded with the President’s Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards.

The annual awards, established by the Office of the President, are designed to give special recognition to two faculty and two staff members who have contributed to the success of the College, have demonstrated exceptional commitment to fulfilling their responsibilities and carrying out the College’s mission.

The recipients for 2020-21 follow:

  • Dr. Scott Brown, assistant professor of kinesiology, received the Outstanding Teacher Award. This award recognizes faculty members who are compelling, effective teachers in their field and who demonstrate, through specific activities or other aspects of teaching, commitment to the core mission of providing an exceptional educational experience to their students.
  • Dr. Rebecca Humphrey, assistant professor of biology, received the Outstanding Scholar Award. This award celebrates faculty members whose accomplishments include a demonstrable commitment to research in their field.
  • Ric Caceres, biology lab coordinator, received the Excellent Service Award. This award recognizes staff members who demonstrate a commitment to the College and their internal and external customers by making significant professional contributions and providing quality service.
  • Amanda St. Pierre, senior director of alumni and community relations, received the Rising Star Award. This award recognizes new staff members (with 1-3 years of service) who have gone over and above in demonstrating excitement and commitment to their roles, raising the bar to a high level of excellence.

    Brown joined the Aquinas faculty in 2020. Student comments describe Brown as a teacher who “fosters critical thinking skills” and uses highly engaging and creative methods of instruction in the classroom and in the kinesiology lab, which he launched. Additionally, students described Brown as supportive both inside and outside the classroom, showing care for them as individuals so that what they learn at Aquinas helps them succeed academically and as responsible adults. In addition, Brown spends time with prospective students and their families, serves as an assistant/strength coach for the new rugby teams, and serves as faculty advisor for the Outdoor Adventure and Recreation student organization.

    Humphrey has contributed to scholarly research through publications and presentations as well as academia through student-centered teaching and research. This past year, Humphrey has had three solo publications and one peer-reviewed publication co-authored with an undergraduate student. In that time, Humphrey has also developed seven conference presentations, contributed to the QUBES (Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis) platform, and Botany Depot. This work provides open and inclusive material sharing of STEM classroom activities and resources that contribute to STEM education reform. Additionally, Humphrey has created virtual biology labs and mentored students in the Aquinas Summer Scholars research program.

    Caceres has been a valued member of the Aquinas community for more than 22 years. During his tenure, he has been responsible for preparing materials for all biology lab courses (between 12-20 lab sections a semester). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Caceres also worked collaboratively to redesign all biology laboratory classes so that they could continue to be held effectively and safely for students and faculty. Co-workers described his attention to detail, creativity, and ability to problem-solve as valuable to the biology program. Caceres also serves as an excellent mentor to Aquinas student workers, ensuring they have a positive learning experience.

    St. Pierre joined the Aquinas community in early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, St. Pierre found creative ways to build strong relationships and regular communication with alumni and donors. Under her leadership and hard work, alumni giving has increased significantly. Additionally, co-workers described St. Pierre as someone who embraces the values of the College, who has a strong work ethic and who has a joyful and warm demeanor.

    Interim President and Provost Steve Germic honored the employees at the Aquinas College Employee Recognition Event on Dec. 9, which was held virtually. Award winners are nominated by Aquinas faculty, staff and students and receive $1,000 cash. In addition to the Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards, employees with significant milestone service anniversaries were recognized as listed below and the Aquinas Writing Center was recognized for its 10-year anniversary.