Campus & Community

Excellence, innovation saluted at faculty and staff awards ceremony


Martin Rhodes will receive the University’s highest faculty honor for his work researching and analyzing the politics of economic policy across the globe. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

The Oct. 28 Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon (RSVP) pays tribute to research that benefits the public good, teaching that transforms the lives of students, and an engaged, dedicated staff that supports the institution’s efforts to excel.

This year’s crop of awardees includes faculty members from all over campus — the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University Libraries, the Morgridge College of Education, the Graduate School of Social Work, the Daniels College of Business, the Lamont School of Music and the Sturm College of Law — as well as staff members at the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, University Libraries and the Museum of Anthropology.

“There is incredible work occurring at the University of Denver that advances our commitment to the public good and to providing a transformative education for our students,” says Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “As we move toward finalizing a strategic plan that will guide DU over the next decade, it is fitting to celebrate the work of faculty and staff who represent that best of DU — and the type of work we seek to encourage.”


Faculty Awards


John Evans Professor: Martin Rhodes, professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Recent claim to fame: Professor of comparative political economy and co-director at Korbel both of the PhD program and the Center for the Study of Europe and the World, Rhodes will receive the University’s highest faculty honor for his work researching and analyzing the politics of economic policy across the globe. He is co-editor of two recent books on European politics: “New Modes of Governance in Europe,” which reflects the work of a research group he led composed of 35 partners from across Europe; and “Social Pacts in Europe: Emergence, Evolution and Institutionalization,” the result of a four-year comparative research study centered at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, and financed by the European Commission. Rhodes completed a new book this year that explores governance issues raised by the ongoing Eurozone crisis.

His peers say: “Martin is one of the preeminent comparative political economists, especially in research on Europe. If you were to ask people, particularly in Europe, ‘Who are the top comparative political economists?’ Martin would be on their top-five list.” — George DeMartino, professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies


University Lecturer: Jeanne Abrams, professor in University Libraries and the Center for Judaic Studies; curator of the Beck Archives of Rocky Mountain Jewish History, Special Collections, University Libraries

Recent claim to fame: Abrams dug deep into the personal letters of George and Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James and Dolley Madison, all prolific and highly articulate letter writers, for “Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health” (NYU Press), her 2013 book about the state of health care during colonial times. The book received prominent media coverage, including a featured review in the Wall Street Journal. She also is author of “Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail, A History in the West” (New York University Press, 2006) and “Dr. Charles David Spivak: A Jewish Immigrant and the American Tuberculosis Movement” (University Press of Colorado, 2009).

Her peers say: “Jeanne’s work is not only notable for its high level of academic excellence, but it also is outstanding in its dedication to diversity and inclusivity. Jeanne … has dedicated her life to illuminating often-understudied aspects of American history, including the history of the Rocky Mountain region, the history of the Jewish community in that region, and the history of Jewish women within that historical subcontext. Choosing Jeanne as the University Lecturer highlights a scholar who has worked tirelessly and successfully not simply to attain excellence in her chosen field of study, but to attain that excellence through dedication to culturally, geographically and gender diverse topics.” — Sarah Pessin, director of the Center for Judaic Studies


Distinguished Teaching Award: Paul Michalec, clinical professor in the Morgridge College of Education

Recent claim to fame: A faculty member at the Morgridge College since 2004, Michalec teaches courses in teacher education and curriculum/instruction. His particular area of interest is the spiritual roots of education and teacher identity formation. Michalec is a trained facilitator for Courage To Teach, a signature program developed by Parker Palmer for the Center for Courage and Renewal, which, according to its mission statement, is dedicated to helping teachers and leaders “connect who they are with what they do.” In the Denver community, Michalec has developed and implemented professional development workshops and retreats for teachers, clergy, lay leaders, community partners and physicians. He also has supported school districts in their efforts to obtain grants for professional development.

His peers say: “Paul was the reason I chose to come to the University of Denver. After teaching for four years in high-stress public schools in New York City, I had lost faith in the ability of schools to make the kind of transformative societal change I had hoped to enact. I wanted to look deeper into what exactly was missing in the school system, but despite four years of teaching and taking classes I did not have a language around what I was looking for. I began researching universities all over the country and even internationally, and of all of the dozens of faculty members that I researched, Paul was unique. His portfolio caught my eye because it discusses his beliefs that teaching is a calling, and that educators need qualities like faith, courage, love, reflection, trust and passion to truly grow into effective, lifelong practitioners in the field.” — Kate Newburgh, doctoral student at the Morgridge College of Education


Distinguished Scholar Award: Kimberly Bender, associate professor in the Graduate School of Social Work

 Recent claim to fame: A researcher and faculty member at the Graduate School of Social Work since 2008, Bender focuses her research on at-risk youth and young people who are involved in juvenile justice, mental health, child welfare and substance abuse service-delivery systems. Bender collaborated with Anne DePrince, a DU clinical psychology professor, to create Project SAFE (Safety Awareness for Empowerment), which equips homeless adolescents and young adults with the skills and supports necessary to avoid victimization, secure housing, enroll in school and find employment.

Her peers say: “Dr. Bender’s commitment to improving the lives of homeless youth is unswerving. Her thoughtful yet rigorous approach to working with students, colleagues and practitioners brings out the best in her colleagues and, without doubt, will continue to lead to important advances in services and policies aimed at helping at-risk and homeless populations.” — Jeffrey Jenson, professor in the Graduate School of Social Work


United Methodist Church University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award: Pallab Paul, marketing professor at the Daniels College of Business

Recent claim to fame: In addition to serving as faculty advisor for international business majors and for business students taking part in the Cherrington Global Scholars study-abroad program, Paul also is faculty director of the International Living and Learning Community (ILLC), in which a group of first-year students immerse themselves in global issues by living on the same floor in a residence hall and taking part in seminar courses, community-based service opportunities and extracurricular activities.

His peers say: “Students in the ILLC often remark that the class Pallab taught in the fall and the community he helped develop among students created the best first-year environment they could have hoped for. Students see him as a role model for their community of learners and seek him out through co-curricular programming. They have cheered Pallab on to create a spring break immersion program where they can continue to learn together in an applied international setting. This is a testimony to Pallab’s ability to create a strong community of learners that extends well beyond the traditional classroom.” — Linda Olson, executive director of learning communities and civic engagement


Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award: Richard vonFoerster, adjunct faculty member at the Lamont School of Music

Recent claim to fame: In addition to teaching classes in music theory, aural skills and musicology at Lamont, vonFoerster recently spearheaded a new contemporary performance ensemble for students, Modern Hue. Every quarter, the ensemble presents a full concert of music written in the past hundred years. He also is a founding member and programming director of the Playground Ensemble, Denver’s premiere new music group.

 His former students say: “Dr. vonFoerster is a magnanimous advocate and mentor for student projects that go beyond the classroom. Last year, one of my colleagues and I had an idea to create an ensemble to bring new works by student composers to the broader Colorado area. When we approached Dr. vonFoerster for advice, he helped us think through the process of launching our own group. Throughout our journey toward our debut concert, he gave generously of his time to provide input and support for our project.” — Nathan Cornelius (MM ’15)


Faculty Service Award: Federico Cheever, professor in the Sturm College of Law

Recent claim to fame: In summer 2015, Cheever returned as co-director of the environmental and natural resources law program at the Sturm College of Law, after more than four years as Sturm’s associate dean for academic affairs. He helped found the University’s Sustainability Council, which has worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote biking, reduce waste, implement energy-efficiency measures and advance countless other sustainability initiatives across campus and around Denver. He has been a member of the Sustainability Council since 2008 and served as its chair for five of those years. In spring 2015, he served on the Chancellor’s Enhancing Sustainability Task Force, where he advanced proposals that have the potential to set DU apart as a leader in sustainability. He serves on the advisory board of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute at DU and on the board of directors of Transportation Solutions, a local organization that works to increase transportation options in Denver.

His peers say: “I have had the pleasure of working with Professor Cheever since I arrived at the University of Denver. In those two and a half years, I have seen him exemplify dedication, energy, and service to the University. These efforts grow out of his deep passion for environmental justice and sustainability and his vision for the University to lead in this area. Fred has displayed great leadership in growing campus support for these ideas in an inclusive, engaging, community-focused manner that epitomizes faculty service.” — Chad King, sustainability coordinator at the Center for Sustainability


 Staff Advisory Council Awards


Outstanding Service Award: Cara DiEnno, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL)

Recent claim to fame: A staff member at CCESL since 2011, DiEnno manages the Public Achievement Program, which fosters leadership skills in University of Denver students — who in turn mentor high school students on ways to address issues in their communities. She also manages CCESL’s Service Learning Associate Program, which trains student leaders to work with faculty to implement service-learning courses. DiEnno also works directly with faculty on ways to use community-engaged strategies and service learning in their teaching and research.

Her peers say: “Cara manages to perform this high-quality, innovative work — which supports student learning and impact on communities — with tremendous grace, good humor, enthusiasm, commitment and passion. The character and quality of her work reveals her belief that a community-engaged campus, one that supports students and faculty to work with communities to address the great public problems of our time, can transform us all — students, faculty, staff and communities. Cara believes fiercely in empowering students to take what they are learning in the classroom to connect with communities to collaboratively and creatively solve problems.” — Anne DePrince, CCESL director


Crimson and Gold Award: Brooke Rohde, curator of collections at the University of Denver Museum of Anthropology

Recent claim to fame: Rohde will receive the Crimson and Gold Award — a civic engagement award designed to recognize a staff member who displays outstanding commitment to and support of the University — for her work at the Museum of Anthropology, particularly the dedication she displayed following two floods in Sturm Hall (the museum’s home) in June. A DU alumna, Rohde (MA ’01) has been curator of collections since 2003 and is responsible for the physical care of a collection of more than 100,000 objects. She also teaches a class on museum collection management in the anthropology department and mentors graduate students in the department’s museum and heritage studies concentration, overseeing internships and providing hands-on opportunities working with the collection. Rohde works with faculty to encourage the use of collections in the classroom and with community partners to bring collections to area schools.

Her peers say: “Brooke responded to both (floods) and came to campus even though she was at home on medical leave at the time. She led the effort to recover and rehouse valuable archaeological collections affected by the flooding and engaged students in the recovery effort, providing a unique training opportunity. I felt her response efforts were illustrative of Brooke’s dedication to the museum and the department. — Anne Amati, registrar/NAGPRA coordinator in the Museum of Anthropology


Innovator Award: Franklin Jackson, Media Services Manager for University Libraries

Recent claim to fame: DU’s resident digital media guru, Jackson is committed to developing new and creative ways to engage digital media and AV technology across campus, whether it’s helping students with an assignment, engaging faculty in their teaching, enhancing the classroom experience through technology or supporting hundreds of events on campus. He also helps manage the Digital Media Center (DMC) at the Anderson Academic Commons, a self-service postproduction studio open to students, faculty, staff and alumni. Jackson also has facilitated more than 50 AV installations on campus and has worked as the primary lead for AV design on projects including the Anderson Academic Commons and the new engineering building currently under construction on the south side of campus.

His peers say: “Franklin continues to combine the ever-changing needs of our community with the forward thinking of how technology can complement the programming, processes and practices that connect us locally, nationally and globally. He incorporates the bounds of tradition with the innovation of future thinking that will prepare and ready our community in ways that are limitless.” — Theresa Hernandez, associate director for library operations


The Quality Department Award this year goes to Learning Communities and Civic Engagement, which manages the Living and Learning Community (LLC) and Pioneer Leadership Program on campus. In both programs, first-year students live on the same floor of a residence hall all year, all take the same 2-credit course each quarter, and engage in various co-curricular events and service-learning projects throughout the year.

“As a faculty director for one of these communities, I am truly awed by the quality of service delivered by the staff of the LCCE department,” says Scott Leutenegger, computer science professor and faculty director of the LLC for creativity and entrepreneurship. “Students in these programs thrive during their time at DU because of the support they receive from each other and from the dedicated staff. The staff … balances the tasks of event planning, mentoring, managing budgets, running retreats, recruiting, helping decide on program admission, and assisting inside the classroom.”


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