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dr Nissa Ingraham receives a hug from Associate Provost Dr. Mike Steiner and Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman applauds after Ingraham was announced Friday as Northwest’s 2023 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education recipient. (Photo by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

Aug 12, 2022

Northwest Missouri State University honored six Friday individuals as recipients of its annual Faculty Excellence Awards in recognition of their teaching, scholarship and service during the 2021-22 academic year.

Continuing the institution’s long-standing tradition of naming one of the honorees as Northwest’s Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education recipient, the University announced Dr. Nissa Ingraham, an associate professor of professional education who joined the Northwest faculty in 2006, will receive the 2023 award.

The Governor’s Award is sponsored by the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education and presented annually to an outstanding faculty member representing each of Missouri’s four-year public institutions. Northwest’s recipient is chosen from faculty members who receive the University’s Faculty Excellence Award for teaching and exemplify the Governor’s Award criteria for effective teaching, effective advising, innovation in course design and delivery, service to the university and community, and a commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.

For Northwest’s Faculty Excellence Awards, one recipient is selected in each of the three categories of teaching, scholarship and service from nominees representing Northwest’s six professional schools, and one recipient is selected in each category from nominees representing the five academic departments comprising the College of Arts and Sciences, for a total of six award winners.

All full-time faculty holding a Board of Regents-approved appointment at the University are eligible for Faculty Excellence Awards.

“Choosing the winners for the Faculty Excellence Awards and the Governor’s Award each year is very difficult because Northwest has many talented and dedicated faculty members,” Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman said. “This year’s recipients are no exception because they are exemplary in their fields of study, dedicated to our students, have served the University in many capacities and are respected by their colleagues. It is an honor to recognize their contributions and celebrate their excellence.”

This fall’s Faculty Excellence Award recipients and a summary of their nominations are provided below.

Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching

dr  Ashley Black

dr Ashley Black

dr Ashley Black, associate professor of English, Department of Language, Literature and Writing

In addition to positive student evaluations, Black has a refined pedagogical philosophy that informs her teaching, which consistently benefits her students.

Black describes her approach as it relates to racism, social justice and her teaching of young adult literature: “I seek to develop curriculum that challenges students to reflect on their own knowledge, assess that knowledge, and develop deeper levels of understanding through engaging with various texts, classroom activities, and theoretical and pragmatic applications of classroom material. I want my students to understand the various methods readers can use to engage with and investigate texts, allowing us to collaborate and construct thematic statements about the understandings students discover about themselves and the world around them.”

Black’s pedagogical commitment is informed by research coupled with her own experience. Last year, she presented her work on social justice, race and young adult literature at three conferences. She also co-authored and published an article with three students that developed out of their coursework in young adult literature. A pedagogical commitment and sense of practice can be found in all of her classes with teaching that is never devoid of the social justice concerns on which her work is centered. She is an excellent model for teachers of all subjects as well as the future teachers with whom she works.

dr  Nissa Ingraham

dr Nissa Ingraham

dr Nissa Ingraham, associate professor of professional education, School of Education

A review of Ingraham’s accomplishments shows a commitment to teaching effectiveness with abundant service and robust scholarship. Her diverse and impactful responsibilities have included teaching the new educational diagnostician master’s program, offering Spanish-language programming for Horace Mann Laboratory School students, and instructing numerous education, Spanish methods and doctoral students. Ingraham’s students commend her as extremely caring with lofty expectations. She provides personalized support and mentoring, including to Northwest students in KIDS (Kind Individuals Dedicated to Students).

As a scholar, she routinely publishes in top journals, presents at prestigious conferences, including the American Educational Research Association, and is a highly regarded qualitative researcher. To support Northwest, she co-developed the educational diagnostician master’s degree, designing the entire curriculum while pursuing an advanced degree to stay current and increase her own knowledge.

She also serves as an assistant director of the School of Education, coordinated Northwest’s collaborative Ed.D. program with the University of Missouri-Columbia, and has led state accreditation. Her nominator wrote, “Dr. Ingraham is an incredible teacher with far-reaching impact, and her truly excellent work enables so many to be successful. She is a model of teaching excellence.”

Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship

dr  Jim Campbell

dr Jim Campbell

dr Jim Campbell, associate professor of biology, Department of Natural Sciences

Campbell came to Northwest in 2013 from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he was a research fellow, and is a highly regarded researcher in the Department of Natural Sciences.

Last year, he collaborated on a paper published in Nanomaterials with Northwest faculty and undergraduate students, and he is a collaborator on a second paper with scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Desert Research Institute and US Geological Survey, among other universities. For a third paper, he is working with a Northwest graduate students and biology faculty to describe a new species of the bacterial genus Mitsuaria. Google indicates Jim’s publications have been cited 459 times from 2021 through spring 2022.

He has worked tirelessly to extend his research skills to his teaching through support of numerous undergraduate research projects leading to student conference presentations and awards. He also is the Department of Natural Sciences’ lead on the Bartik high-performance computing system funded by the National Science Foundation, and he is a founding member of the department’s new Loess Hills Research Center.

dr  Linda GraySmith

dr Linda GraySmith

dr Linda Gray Smith, associate professor of professional education, School of Education

Smith routinely demonstrates effective scholarship while assisting faculty as a collaborator. She regularly has multiple projects in the works and is adept at managing diverse scholarly activities. She had four peer-reviewed scholarly articles accepted to journals in the last two years and presented at numerous state and national education conferences. Last spring, she and a colleague co-presented their ongoing research on the impact of technology on increasing students’ classroom management skills.

Smith has published or presented her research in Educational Renaissance and at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; Teacher Education Council for Schools, Colleges and Universities; and Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education annual meetings. She engages in ongoing collaboration with attendees and excels at continuing dialogue and helping others learn how Northwest’s education students excel.

In addition to regularly serving as a peer reviewer for top education conferences, she is involved with Northwest’s teacher education accreditor, the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation. She serves as a reviewer for other universities’ accreditation visits, volunteering her expertise to advance and improve institutional learning.

Faculty Excellence Award for Service and Student Support

dr  Rhonda Beemer

dr Rhonda Beemer

dr Rhonda Beemer, associate professor of health and physical education, School of Health Science and Wellness

Beemer has a career-long record of service excellence that has been especially noteworthy recently. In 2021, she served on Northwest Faculty Senate, the University Benefits and Wellness Advisory Committee and the Northwest Well-being Committee. She also actively engaged in COVID-19 mitigation efforts, serving on Northwest’s Green Team for contract tracing, completing FEMA tracer training and volunteering as a tracer for Northwest. She also made significant contributions as the Northwest Faculty Athletic Representative and led the development of a faculty advisory board to ensure a comprehensive approach to addressing student-athlete needs and issues.

Beemer advises 57 students and coordinates the bachelor’s program in applied health sciences, which supports 160 majors pursuing a variety of health and wellness fields. She also worked with colleagues to manage program curriculum, completing a pilot program to rebuild and track program outcomes. Additionally, she has negotiated several agreements through which Northwest students receive priority admission to professional graduate programs. Other service contributions include frequent visits with prospective students, participating in recruiting events, serving on faculty search committees and serving on the Dietetics Advisory Council.

dr  Gretchen Thornsberry

dr Gretchen Thornsberry

dr Gretchen Thornsberry, associate professor of biology, Department of Natural Sciences

Thornsberry started the 2023-22 academic year by meeting incoming students at Summer Orientation Advice and Registration (SOAR) days and continued working to help students transition to Northwest by teaching University Seminar. In addition to her fall instructional load, she covered a section of general biology lab for an ill colleague and took over a new lab preparation for that course as well as mentoring two students in special topics courses. She advises about 30 students and writes numerous recommendations.

She led two search committees for the Department of Natural Sciences and continues to serve on the Designated Curriculum Matters Committee. She also serves on a team that is implementing the inventory portion of Bearcat Safety Central, a key initiative that inventories and tracks chemicals and hazardous materials on campus.

Thornsberry serves as the nanoscale science discipline coordinator and the clinical lab science program liaison to affiliated hospitals. She served as the secretary and treasurer of the Missouri Branch of the American Society for Microbiology and served on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Science Olympiad, coordinating the regional middle school tournament in addition to working with the state tournament.

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