2018 Faculty Awards

April 30, 2018

Four faculty awards were presented at the annual Honors Convocation on Friday, April 20.

The first award was for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching which is awarded to a faculty member who demonstrates a commitment to enhancing student learning through inter-disciplinary connections, who utilizes creative and effective teaching strategies, and who demonstrates a genuine care and concern for Grand View students.

This year’s honoree, Ms. Rachel Merrill-Schwaller, truly embodies the spirit for which this award was created.  Rachel has excelled as a teacher and shows a remarkable commitment to student success while providing innovative and creative teaching and learning tools.

In the classroom, her goal is for students to experience the material as a means of learning it. She is disruptive and challenging while also being consistently supportive and understanding of her students’ needs. She continually challenges her students in non-threatening ways that encourage them to delve deeper into their work while crafting remarkably creative and varied assignments that entice them to “play” with concepts so learning can occur. In one assignment, she directs students to write a personal manifesto using only emojis. In another, she uses her love for Pippi Longstocking as a teaching tool to support learning outcomes in her LOGOS course. Like Pippi, this faculty member is unconventional. For example, she role plays characters in videos she creates, including a smooth-talking used car salesman and a calm and directive stewardess who conveys essential course safety information to her student “passengers.” This unconventional approach also helps her teach effectively to online students.

Courses with her are definitely an experience in LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) where she sometimes dons a wig or wedding dress when she enters the classroom. If students are lucky enough to have a morning class with this faculty member, they will see her in an apron flipping pancakes on a hot griddle with a Darth Vader spatula on critique days. She also hosts Happening Day, Surrealism Day, Abstract Sugar Cookie Day, board games, and thought experiments.  And she created “Mentor Mondays” where students can just drop in and talk about anything related to her subject. 

She is an extremely self-reflective teacher and seeks feedback on her teaching through her courses and through her connections.  She and a former retired art professor developed and facilitated a series of workshops for John Stoddard Cancer Research to support cancer patients/survivors and families/friends through the art making process.  She is continually involved in off-campus art adventures, service, and presentations.

The Outstanding Academic Advising Award was the second award presented. Dr. Bonnie Hall was recognized as an extremely competent and conscientious advisor who works with students effectively on the “nuts and bolts” aspects of advising and also helps them with their bigger life questions. This person often advises students outside of the major and mentors students not formally assigned to her. Bonnie is able to have the frank conversations with her advisees when they struggle academically while still providing positive support and a shoulder to lean on. She is always available to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and even to help them to find a more appropriate program of study, if needed. She has quite often advocated for advisees who deserve a second chance and always provides positive feedback to her advisees when she notices hard work and improvement.

This advisor was an active member of the Grand View’s Advising Taskforce that met weekly during the 2016-17 academic year to research and recommend a new advising model. Throughout this process, she emerged as a leader in generating solutions and sharing faculty perspective.  She was committed to making academic advising a transformative experience for our students. When the decision was made in December 2016 to adopt the SCC-Campus software, our recipient was a natural choice to be a member of the leadership team. She has been an effective liaison to the faculty and also an invaluable project developer because she understands the faculty advising role so well.  Throughout the year, she has taught her colleagues to use SSC by leading training and by providing e-mail tips and trouble shooting in response to daily phone calls from faculty.  Our recipient also serves as the chair of the NEW Student Success Leadership Committee (SSLC).

The third award was for Excellence in Scholarship Award. Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes was chosen by virtue of being an accomplished and prolific writer, an effective presenter, and a talented reviewer.  This scholar has a strong international reputation and is also able to communicate a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of materials in the classroom to Grand View students.  This person challenges students to high academic standards and shares his enthusiasm about learning with them.  This person’s notable scholarly contributions have a positive influence on our students as they pursue their future endeavors—and enrich all of us as members of the Grand View community.

In 2017, Dr. Mattes published more than a dozen journal articles and academic papers. In his career, he has authored twenty-five devotional writings and given over 100 presentations throughout the world pertaining to his research and literary writings. With a reputation as a talented reviewer, he has reviewed over 100 articles and books that have been published in scholarly journals such as The Lutheran Quarterly, Church and Life, The Luther Forum, The Cresset, along with many others. He has also served as the Assistant Editor for the Dictionary of  Lutheran Traditions. This faculty member’s most notable contribution to his academic discipline was the writing of his book Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty:  A Reappraisal in 2017. This groundbreaking book analyzes Luther’s theological aesthetics and discusses implications for music, art, and the contemplative life.

Although he remains committed to his scholarly work, he continues to serve Grand View and his community with a “servant’s heart.”  He assists as a supply pastor for the Southeast Iowa Synod of the Lutheran Church, filling in for congregations that currently do not have a permanent pastor.  He also serves Grand View as its department chair for Theology and Philosophy, serves on various faculty committees, and is actively involved in numerous projects and assignments—one of which is the NEXUS Grant from the Lilly Foundation to establish a Youth Theology Institute at Grand View.

The final award presented was for the Distinguished Faculty Service Award. This award is conferred upon a faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary service to the University and made a positive impact to the campus community. Dr. Laura Salazar has met all three criteria of this award in the highest regard by:

  • Demonstrating a strong, sustained record of accomplishment in activities undertaken in service to, and as a representative of the University.
  • Making meaningful contributions and positively impacting the work of a variety of services activities.
  • Demonstrating an outstanding commitment to serve students, staff, faculty, and the mission of Grand View.

Our recipient has a sustained record of service to the community through leadership as a department chair and as a member of the Student Success Integration Team. Our recipient has contributed to faculty governance for many years, most recently by stepping up to play an important role in our new faculty governance model.  This person’s service has always been done with the goal of making the student experience better.  This viewpoint has guided every topic that has been discussed and decided on.

Our recipient has also done a great job balancing the many contending perspectives faculty and administration have been eager to “share” with her.  She is a trusted leader in that all constituents felt free to communicate their suggestions to her and value her assessment of issues. In her role as Grand View’s first Faculty Senate President, she has made significant personal sacrifices of time and energy to achieve the greater good of sound, shared governance.  The future of the Senate, the Faculty, and the University are in good shape because of the foundation she has established for us moving forward.