Faculty Honored at 2023 Action Professional Development Day

Published: March 9, 2023

College of Western Idaho (CWI) faculty and staff participated in the Innovation in Action Professional Development Day on Friday, March 3. The annual event provides an opportunity for collective collaboration, learning, and celebration.

“I truly enjoyed mingling in person with everyone,” said Assistant Dean of Industry, Engineering, and Trades, Alex Beal. “It is something that I have missed. I love the discussion topics with faculty.”.

CWI welcomed Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives at George Mason University, Dr. Jaime Lester, as this year’s keynote speaker. Dr. Lester, an expert in fields of equitable workplace practices and organizational change, presented Managing Meaningful Change: From Personal Survival to Institutional Innovation. The interactive workshop discussed how the transformational change in higher education has impacted the traditional continuous improvement-based change and how individual contributors are an important and positive part of institutional change.

“I appreciated getting the chance to learn about practical tools to help me affect change,” said English Professor, Andrea Ascuena. “I was able to see where I was already working strongly but other areas that are opportunities for me to develop. I look forward to trying out the new strategies and tips for change!” 

Beyond the keynote, the event celebrated several achievements among faculty members.

The General Education Sub-Committee highlighted the achievements of our General Education faculty with the 2023 General Education Outstanding Instructor awards. Greg Wilson, General Education Coordinator, reminded the attendees that, “Gen Ed is a huge part of the mission of CWI, teaching over 650 sections and over half of our total students’ foundational skills for success every semester.”

Over the last several months, the sub-committee received more than 400 nominations from students, which became a key component in determining the winners of this year’s awards. These recognized faculty will be forwarded to the Idaho State Board of Education for consideration in the statewide General Education Awards, also known as GEM Awards, in the fall.

CWI’S 2023 Idaho GEM Award Nominees

  • Jaren Watson, English Faculty — GEM 1: Written Communication
  • Luke Yeates, Assistant Professor of Communication — GEM 2: Oral Communication
  • Cathy Carson, Mathematics Professor — GEM 3: Mathematical Way of Knowing
  • Emily McIntier, Chemistry Instructor — GEM 4: Scientific Way of Knowing
  • Mike Robinson, Assistant Professor of Philosophy — GEM 5: Artistic and Humanistic Way of Knowing
  • Heather Schoenherr, Psychology Professor — GEM 6: Social and Behavioral Way of Knowing

In addition to the GEM awards nominations, faculty were honored with several other recognitions and achievements.

CWI-101 Coordinator and Associate Professor of Spanish, Amy Vassar, recognized the work of Honors Program Coordinator, Michal Yadlin, for her support and leadership in implementing the CWI-101 Pathways model.

Wilson recognized the work of Mathematics Professor, Susan Aydelotte, for her work in creating an Open Education Resource (OER) for a math course providing CWI an opportunity to lead in the statewide Z-Degree initiative.

CWI’s Center for Teaching and Learning facilitated its annual Innovation in Action contest celebrating faculty contributions to retention through sharing their best practices.

The Innovation in Action awards has faculty vote for the innovative classroom experiences presented by their colleagues. This year’s competition was focused on retention with subcategories in teaching strategies, creating student connections, helping students make work and future-self connections, and addressing retention from a broader lens. Individual winners received the most votes in each category with the school winner based on the total number of those votes. 

"The Innovation in Action awards provide a fun opportunity for faculty to learn from and recognize the amazing experiences their colleagues are creating across the college,” said the Dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Courtney Colby Bond. “In our ninth year, these types of experiences build the basis of a tradition of excellence and shared learning." 

2023 Innovation in Action Winners

  • Jana McCurdy, Associate Professor of Psychology — Words of Affirmation
  • Andrea Schumaker, Department Chair of Agricultural Sciences —Field Trips Retention Strategy
  • Casey O’Leary, Horticulture Instructor — REST-oration Week
  • Janel Holt, Associate Professor of Spanish — Day of the Dead


Additionally, Science and Math won the school-wide Innovation in Action trophy.

“I'm really proud of the work of the Math and Science team, and I'm so glad they actively participated in this opportunity to highlight and celebrate that work,” said, Dean of Science and Math, Kae Jensen.   

Read the full list of contest submissions 

Stay Up To Date

Learn about news and events by subscribing to CWI’s eNewsletter.

View Newsletter Archive