MACOMB/Moline, IL – Five Western Illinois University faculty members and one academic adviser have been named the 2021 Provost’s Award of Excellence winners. The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR) at WIU organized six-member committees charged with evaluating excellence in each of the determined areas.

“It’s always a privilege to present this award to our faculty and staff who go above and beyond, both in the classroom and outside of class. Our students have wonderful opportunities and experiences because of our faculty and staff. Congratulations and thank you to our 2021 Western Illinois University Provost's Awards of Excellence Winners AnnouncedProvost’s Award of Excellence recipients,” said Interim Provost Billy Clow.

Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching: Susan Brooks, Department of Mathematics & Philosophy.

The selection committee noted: “Dr. Brooks has proven herself a dedicated, highly effective and caring teacher. She has been teaching courses which students often find very challenging and difficult; however, she has made those classes less threatening and more accessible to students, including those who may not be as strong in math. Dr. Brooks is also committed to growing as an educator, and she recognizes that not all students learn the same way and recognizes the need for differentiating instruction to meet her students’ needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Brooks made adjustments to her courses to best the needs of her students, and adapted her classroom to an online format that was highly conducive to student success. Dr. Brooks has left a positive impression on everyone in her University community.”

Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus: Guada Cabedo-Timmons, Foreign Languages & Literatures

The selection committee said: “Dr. Cabedo-Timmons’ work with study abroad programs, especially the WISE-Spain program, is particularly impressive. The WISE program is the crown jewel student abroad program at WIU, and her work organizing and learning WIU students to her native Spain for the experience speaks to her deep commitment to our students and the life-changing power of international education. Additionally, Dr. Cabedo-Timmons’ work to expand study abroad opportunities to regional high school students and to recruit them to WIU is highly noteworthy. Her work with Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society further demonstrates her commitment to promoting a campus organization that recognizes the contributions of our international and internationally-minded faculty, staff and students We look forward to seeing her future efforts to make our University an even more diverse, globally-focused community.”

Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence in University/Community Service: Jennifer Plos, Department of Kinesiology.

The selection committee remarked: “Dr. Plos has made significant contributions serving as an external reviewer and site visitor for the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, evaluating and assessing Athletic Training (AT) education programs across the United States for over a decade. Her experience helped prepare the WIU AT program for its successful 10-year re-accreditation, and her leadership ensured compliance with accreditation standards-facilitated quality outcomes, improvements and innovation for athletic training education nationally. She recently served as the medical staff co-coordinator for an American Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation event, which helped her students gain “real world” training experience. She served as the faculty advisor for the WIU AT Team as it participated in the Illinois Athletic Trainers’ Association (IATA) State College Bowl Competition, helping her team achieve first place finishes in both the 2018 and 2019 events. She is a strong mentor and advocate for WIU students, and a valuable member of the College.”

Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performance/Professional Activities: Liguo Song, Department of Chemistry

The selection committee stated: “Dr. Song is devoted to seeking internal and external funding, and has been successful in his efforts. He has secured more than $500,000 for research activities and equipment that benefit not only his research, but WIU and the surrounding region. A noteworthy success is Dr. Song’s acquisition of a Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer for WIU, an accomplishment that provides exciting opportunities for our students and faculty. Furthermore, 22 of his students have won WIU grants for research and travel. This demonstrates an incredible commitment to helping his students develop as researchers. Dr. Song has also published articles in high impact professional journals and presented at national conferences, which further showcases WIU. Due to his work, he has developed an international and national reputation as an expert in his field.”

Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence in Multicultural Teaching: Lora Ebert Wallace, Department of Sociology & Anthropology

The selection committee acknowledged: “Dr. Ebert Wallace has demonstrated a superb ability to be community- and student-centered in her approach to teaching. She integrates service learning, research, and equity issues seamlessly into her work, shares her disciplinary expertise in health inequalities and encourages student participation in activities that benefit our communities. She is dedicated to improving practices related to issues of health and healthcare equity, and Dr. Ebert Wallace has integrated multicultural education in many different modalities, and has facilitated service learning projects at Mosaic, and has also participated in WIU Disability Culture Day with her students. She is active with assisting student-led research initiatives about multicultural topics, both nationally and internationally, and she has served as the chair or been a member of the committee for multiple master’s theses and other research projects.”

Outstanding Academic Advisor: Ember Keithley, College of Business & Technology.

According to her nominators: “Ember is a truly gifted professional and she has a passion for WIU and advising population that is unmatched. Her dedication and attention to detail with her students, colleagues, departmental reports and the CBT truly demonstrates she bleeds purple and gold and has the highest level of commitment to the profession. Ember has a can do, get it done attitude. Western Illinois University has many great professionals working on behalf of this institution. However, there are certain individuals who take their responsibilities and duties to the next level. We believe Ms. Keithley is one of those individuals. Her nominators noted that the School of Agriculture is a signature program because of Ember’s care and compassion for her students. What we keep coming back to is her attitude of ‘How can I help?'”

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Western Illinois University Provost's Awards of Excellence Winners Announced
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.