Notable Achievements Celebrated at Innovation in Action Event

Published: March 8, 2024

College of Western Idaho (CWI) faculty and staff participated in the annual Innovation in Action Professional Development Day on March 1. This event provided an opportunity for collective collaboration, learning, and celebration.

“The opportunity to come together and recognize the impact of faculty development as a direct benefit to our students is a powerful encouragement to continue to do the good work we do,” said CWI Dean of Science, Technology, and Math, Kae Jensen. “Whether it was highlighting Durable Skills, deploying Universal Design for Learning, or sharing best practices through Innovation in Action and the GEM Awards, I left reminded of and encouraged by the amazing work our faculty do at CWI.”

CWI welcomed Dr. James Hutson as the keynote speaker. Dr. Hutson, Professor and Department Head of Art History and Visual Culture for Lindenwood University, has published extensively on the deployment of Durable Skills in higher education. His most current research is in connecting AI (artificial intelligence) and Durable Skills. The presentation provided an opportunity for faculty to dive into how Durable Skills, also known as soft-skills or power-skills, are already a core component of the CWI outcomes and how to create better connections for students between the skills they are learning and the activities and assessments they are doing.

“I really enjoyed the guest speaker; I used some of the information provided on Durable Skills and their importance in my class the following Monday,” said Department Chair of Business at CWI, Richard Sotto.

The day also provided an opportunity to celebrate faculty achievements.

2024 Innovation in Action Winners

The Center for Teaching and Learning facilitated its annual Innovation in Action contest celebrating faculty contributions to retention through sharing their best practices. This year’s winners include:

  • Madison Jansen, English Faculty for Video Announcements
  • Annie Estvold, Social Work Assistant Professor for Assignment Choice Board
  • Abby Wolford, English Associate Professor for Multimodal Text Access
  • Maia Kelley, Mathematics Associate Professor for Late-Work Submission Changes
  • Science, Technology and Math for overall school participation

2024 GEM Awards

The General Education Matriculation (GEM) Innovative Educator Award honors faculty members who demonstrate their passion and craft in advancing the skills, knowledge, and interests of students through general education courses at CWI and in the State of Idaho.

This year’s GEM Awards focus on faculty who help non-majors understand why these types of courses are important and who highlight the Durable Skills students learn in general education courses. The following recognized faculty will be forwarded to the Idaho State Board of Education for consideration in the statewide General Education awards in the fall.

  • Dr. Liza Long, English Assistant Professor for GEM 1: Written Communication
  • Joni Carlo, Communication Faculty for GEM 2: Oral Communication
  • Paul Belue, Mathematics Assistant Professor for GEM 3: Mathematical Way of Knowing
  • Hollie Leavitt, Biology Professor for GEM 4: Scientific Way of Knowing
  • Amy Vassar, Spanish Assistant Professor for GEM 5: Artistic and Humanistic Way of Knowing
  • Troy Nickel, Psychology Faculty for GEM 6: Social and Behavioral Way of Knowing

Faculty Senate Recognition

Andrea Schumaker, Faculty Senate President, also recognized the service of the outgoing department Senators as well as the outstanding service of the following individuals:

  • Christian Purvis-Aldrich, English Professor for her work on Faculty Promotions Committee
  • Andrea Ascuena, English Professor for her work on Professional Standards Committee
  • Cathy Carson, Mathematics Professor; Elain Holmes, Dental Assistant Professor and Maia Kelly, Mathematics Associate Professor for their work on Faculty Elections Committee
  • Lindsey Wallgren, Business Professor for her work on Faculty Recognition Committee

Finally, Kae Jensen, Science, Technology and Math Dean was able to recognize the service and leadership of Andrea Schumaker as she ends her tenure as Faculty Senate President this year.

"It energized me to celebrate faculty and to hear how thoughtful and invested they are in students' experiences and success, said Dean of Social Sciences and Public Affairs at CWI, Dr. Kris Smerick. “The keynote speaker was amazing, and I know my faculty left inspired and excited. This kind of intentional time together, focused on learning and recognition, is key to a healthy culture."

To watch the keynote, read contest submissions and see more about the innovative and exciting work faculty are doing, access the Innovation in Action – Professional Development Day SharePoint site.

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