University of Idaho Advising, Teaching, Collaborative, Outreach and Creative Activity Achievements Shine

Wednesday, April 21 2010

Written by Amanda Cairo

MOSCOW, Idaho – Excellence is its own reward, but as many University of Idaho faculty found out, a ceremony and an award can make the reward a little bit sweeter. The university's annual Excellence Awards banquet honored 16 faculty and graduate students at an on-campus ceremony for outstanding achievements in teaching, research, outreach and advising. New this year to the event is the Interdisciplinary or Collaborative Efforts Awards. The event took place Tuesday, April 20, in Moscow.
Advising Excellence Awards

Elizabeth Reynolds, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, joined the University of Idaho in 1990. She was lauded for her attention to detail, which makes her advising role stand above others and for how she sees her role as not only an adviser, but as an educator as well. Her six-point approach helps her work with students more effectively and helps her and the student walk away with a feeling of satisfaction. She not only works with students, but also with colleagues to help improve their efforts. She believes advising extends beyond academics, embracing a whole range of assistance to students, parents and faculty. An advisee under Reynolds says she has consistently shown superior support, interest and problem solving skills as an adviser, and it is her student-centered approach, concern and openness that sets her apart.

Donald Crawford Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award
  • Lisette Waits, professor of fish and wildlife, joined the University of Idaho in 1996. She was cited for her ability to tailor each student’s interest and future goals into the mentoring and leadership role she provides during her advising as the shining light of excellence in mentoring. She understands each student is unique, and they need different challenges to allow for personal growth and success. She allows each student creative freedom and independence to discover possible solutions while providing moral support and guidance. Waits says she is less concerned with students’ ability to learn the specific knowledge and skills of their discipline, than their ability to “think like a scientist.” As a mentor, she also places great importance on leading by example through hard work, cooperation, excellence and treatment of others.
Hoffman Award in Teaching Excellence Award
  • Matthew Brehm, assistant professor of architecture, joined the university in 2004. He was praised for his skill at blending technological advances with the timeless craft of hand-drawing and opening his students’ eyes to the world as a brilliant example of teaching excellence. He teaches his students to truly see and experience the “built” world around them with new eyes – whether it is beauty, ugliness, layers of meaning or possibilities. Brehm uses a global framework in his teaching by offering a summer design studio in Rome, followed by a presentation of students’ work to showcase accomplishments and inspire others. He not only shares his ideas and pedagogical practices with faculty on campus, but he has been in multiple publications and presented at many conferences.
Interdisciplinary or Collaborative Efforts Excellence Awards
  • Jan Boll, professor of biological and agricultural engineering, has been with the University of Idaho since 1996. Boll's role as director of the Water Resources Graduate Program points to his respect for the essence of and power behind interdisciplinary or collaborative efforts. His courses allow students to work with multiple disciplines to construct solutions to actual, real-world problems that require interdisciplinary cooperation. In addition to teaching across two colleges and leading the graduate program, Jan led a team of faculty in the development of the successful Strategic Initiative proposals to develop the university’s Waters of the West Initiative, which he also leads. Waters of the West is an interdisciplinary graduate education, research, and outreach program that draws on the expertise of 56 faculty members in seven colleges.
  • Barbara Cosens, professor of law, has been with the university since 2004. Her willingness to share and integrate the College of Law with other colleges, programs and communities was cited as a shining pillar of excellence in interdisciplinary or collaborative efforts. Cosens was the principal organizing force of the interdisciplinary effort to re-evaluate the U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty. The symposium stemming from the effort brought together five disciplines and several viewpoints to discuss the challenges of designing and implementing a transboundary water agreement in the face of many uncertainties. She has also been an active and collaborative member of the Waters of the West Strategic Initiative at the University, leading the integrated analysis of the Lapwai watershed to maximize stakeholder participation in developing resolution strategies. She continues to extend her outreach from the College of Law to help solve real-world natural resource problems.
  • The Martin Scholars Program team is a vital part of the program's success. Team members include: Sean Quinlan, associate professor of history; Sarah M. Nelson, associate professor of foreign languages (French); Sandra Reineke, assistant professor of political science; and Bill L. Smith, director of the Martin Institute and the Martin School of International Studies. The team's diverse backgrounds and interests and their ability to integrate multiple disciplines into a cohesive program serve as a shining focal point concerning excellence in interdisciplinary or collaborative efforts. The Martin program capitalizes on developing research and teaching interests of the participating faculty and attracts top students from across the disciplines. Such transformational learning opportunities provide students with developed interdisciplinary skills central to facilitating their success as policy makers, scholars, development advisors, consultants, researchers and managers aiming to solve complex global problems.
Outreach and Engagement Excellence Awards
  • Kathy Canfield-Davis, assistant professor, in counseling and school psychology and educational leadership, joined the university in 2006. Colleagues admire "how brightly" her work exemplifies excellence in outreach and engagement while representing and supporting the university’s land-grant mandate to deliver higher education to citizens throughout the state and beyond, and to build and nurture lasting partnerships with diverse stakeholders. She has focused her research, teaching and outreach on leadership and diversity. She has identified and developed curriculum to meet degree requirements; successfully integrated live, online and hybrid courses to deliver curriculum; recruited students and course instructors; and built and fortified the many professional and community partnerships necessary to establish and sustain these programs. Over two years, her major outreach and engagement impacts include: revitalizing Educational Leadership degree programs in Coeur d’Alene; establishing a new program and recruiting a new cohort in Sandpoint; building and launching the Lakeland-Post Falls Leadership Academy; and launching the Coeur d’Alene Leadership Institute.
Outstanding Graduate Student Research and Creative Activity Awards
  • Jude Bayham is currently a master's student in applied economics. Bayham's comprehensive research for his master’s degree shows both great breadth and depth that illuminates excellence in outstanding graduate student research. He seeks answers to several pertinent questions including, what, if any, impact biofuels will have on the U.S. reliance on foreign fuel; and what, if any, influence biofuels will have on domestic and world food prices. His research also considered the possibility of biofuel policies in the case of greenhouse gas emissions. He has presented to the Idaho Leadership Agriculture, a group involved with the Idaho State Legislature, and was also asked to speak at the Economic Modeling Specialists Incorporated meeting in Moscow in 2008. He also will be presenting his thesis research at professional meetings in Denver this summer.
  • Stacey Dunn is currently a doctoral student in biology. Her devotion to her research and her ability to take on responsibility were noted as bright points of inspiration in excellence in outstanding graduate student research. While a major professor was on sabbatical, Dunn designed and taught an animal behavior class, ran a laboratory and became proficient in fieldwork and laboratory methods necessary to extract, amplify and sequence DNA. During Dunn's tenure as a graduate student, she has become an accomplished scientist as well as having significant success in grant writing, publication, public speaking, teaching and research administration. In addition, she has received the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant funded by the National Science Foundation. This prestigious honor has placed her in the top seven percent of graduate students in the country.
Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Awards
  • Denim Jochimsen is currently a doctoral student in biological sciences. Jochimsen's passion for biology and concern for student comprehension were noted as examples of excellence in outstanding graduate student teaching. She consistently receives high scores from non-science students, reflecting her dedication to student success. Jochimsen is committed to furthering her own knowledge, which helps foster her students’ mastery of the material. She also believes it is important to convey the potential impact that biology can have on a student’s daily life. Key elements to her teaching include fair evaluation and her own personal investment, incorporating quizzes before exams, adjustments to her teaching style and presenting material in a variety of ways. In her teaching, Jochimsen strives to cultivate student appreciation for the natural world, and she designs her classes with this goal in mind by selecting topical subject material.
  • Matthew Bauman is currently an English MFA graduate student. Bauman’s ability to be engaging, innovative, enthusiastic and involved is pointed to as a radiant point of excellence in outstanding graduate student teaching. Bauman has consistently received stellar remarks and evaluations in several freshman and sophomore classes he teaches. While writing topics and styles change from class to class, his common thread, “to lead effective discussion,” plays a large role. He believes classroom participation is key to a student’s success and leans less on lecturing and more on group activities, in-class writings, special projects and student presentations. As both student and teacher, Bauman is keenly aware of the strengths and setbacks faced by those who learn better by sight or sound, and he is always striving to improve his teaching skills.
Research or Creative Activity Excellence Award
  • Robert Wrigley, professor of English, joined the university in 1999. Wrigley’s accomplishments are noted as a beacon of excellence at the university. His poetry and publications have garnered national attention, including from Edward Hirsch, president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, who considers Wrigley one of the most important Western poets writing today. Wrigley has published seven books, and his poetry has been included in several anthologies and prestigious publications. He has received numerous fellowships throughout his career. But perhaps most importantly, Wrigley has been a tremendous mentor and educator to students at the University. Twenty one of his students have completed book length poetry theses, and three have published versions of their theses as books. Most of his students have published poems in literary magazines across the county.
Teaching Excellence Award
  • Steven Penoncello, professor of Mechanical Engineering, joined the University in 1990. Penoncello’s pursuit of wisdom is indicated as the light that shines so brightly in his excellence in teaching. Always in the pursuit of furthering his own learning and ways to improve his teaching, Penoncello says few things are more rewarding than watching his students grow intellectually through his teaching and mentoring. As he teaches, Penoncello also embraces technology to further his students’ education. Exemplifying innovation, Penoncello develops lectures that can be viewed on iPods, so he can use class time to focus on more in-depth problem-solving techniques. Penoncello also provides research opportunities to students in the Center for Applied Thermodynamic Studies, believing that every student can be a contributor to the worldwide community of researchers. During exit interviews with seniors, many students identify Penoncello as one of the best professors in the department and university because of his engagement, insight and technological innovation.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit