Faculty, staff who give 'distinguished service' to WSU are honored

11:07:33 AM CDT - Thursday, April 07, 2005

By Amy Geiszler-Jones and Shannon Littlejohn

Putting in long hours, participating on committees, going out of their way to help students and faculty, and helping draw and keep students at WSU is work that isn't going unnoticed for the nine individuals being recognized this year with the President's Award for Distinguished Service.

The nine faculty and staff members will be honored at the May 4 Shocker Pride Picnic.

Their peers nominate candidates for the award, and the Classified, Faculty and Unclassified Professional senates select three honorees from each of the employee groups. Of the three unclassified honorees, one is selected for the exclusive Wayne Carlisle Distinguished Service Award. Linda Black is this year's recipient of that award.

The other honorees are faculty members Denise Celestin, Linda Scherz and David Soles, and staff members Vince Altum, Marty Shawver, Glenn Gunnels, Jan Toth and Wanda Hughes.

Vince Altum
Vince Altum is the "face" of WSU to many potential students overseas, and he's a primary reason WSU continues to be successful in recruiting international students while other colleges are seeing dramatic drops, colleagues said in his nomination letters.

Vince Altum
Photo by Inside WSU
As WSU's primary recruiter for international students, Vince Altum spends a quarter of his year on recruiting trips overseas.
When it comes to spending three to four months out of the United States recruiting students for WSU, Altum, associate director for marketing, recruiting and admissions in international education, doesn't let Mother Nature or political climate stand in his way.

His dedication to traveling the globe to spread the gospel of WSU is evident from his actions following Sept. 11, 2001. He had departed early Sept. 11 for his fall recruitment trip to Southeast Asia and ended up spending several days in Memphis, while air traffic was grounded following the terrorist attacks.

Although WSU administrators urged him not to continue his trip, Altum decided he would, traveling to many countries that were considered a threat to U.S. citizens.

"He bypassed only one country on his itinerary because the U.S. embassy there would not allow U.S. citizens to enter," recalled fellow associate director Sue Werle.

Altum, who started working in the Intensive English Language Center nearly 20 years ago as a freshman studying Spanish, plays a key role in the marketing and recruitment efforts of international students.

"His success … is due in part to his level of caring for international education in general, and international students in particular," Werle said.

He oversees the content of publications students receive and continues to think of ways to keep in contact. He's currently trying a new tactic to send potential students e-greetings on significant cultural and personal holidays. He's been known to come in at 4 a.m. to get a head start on answering as many as 300 e-mails a day from prospective students.

Colleagues also rave about Altum's computer expertise. He's designed an in-house database, interrupted a recruiting trip to ensure that WSU would be in compliance with a new federally mandated information system on time, and is involved in several committees preparing for the new ERP system at WSU.

"The Office of International Education would be in dire straits without the valuable assistance that Vince contributes regularly to this office and this university," said international education director Mike Philson.

Linda Black
The title on her business card says "Director of Student Services," but Linda Black's service orientation extends to every facet of the College of Health Professions and into many other areas of university life.

Linda Black
Photo by Inside WSU
Linda Black not only sits on several committees, she finds way to connect the College of Health Professions to various community ventures, including career programs at two Wichita schools.
Black came to health professions in 1990 as educational coordinator of the undergraduate health care management program in public health services.

She's taken on numerous roles in the 15 years since, including stepping in as interim chair of physical therapy in 1996 (she was a licensed physical therapist at the time), teaching, and chairing dean Peter Cohen's strategic planning task force, which started with his arrival in 1999.

She currently chairs the college's strategic oversight committee, in addition to serving on tuition refund, residency, academic operations and advising boards, committees and councils. Her past is also crowded with university committees.
"Linda is the very definition of the concept of 'excellence,'" said Cohen.

It's not just her leadership and collaborative skills on campus that impress Cohen and her colleagues.

"Linda has taken every opportunity to connect the college and university with the Wichita community," said Toni Neff, coordinator of student advising and recruitment.

Black is a member of the Visioneering Wichita task force; a board member of the Guadalupe Clinic, a free or low-cost health care site; and an involved member of the Soroptimist Club.

In addition, she has developed relationships with the Career Pathways program at West High School and North High's biomedical program, connecting high school students interested in health careers to WSU faculty, staff and students.

"She has drawn together an excellent team that has received multiple accolades for its outstanding sense of collaboration, concern and service to faculty and students," Cohen said of Black's work in student services.
In what spare time she can muster, Black and her husband, Ron, are both licensed pilots and are active in the Kansas 99s flying club. Her spirits soar as high as any plane she can fly, say colleagues.

"The college and the university are better organizations because of Linda Black's expertise, cheerful attitude and genuinely infectious personality," said Kathi Wolff, student services adviser.

Marty Shawver
For more than 30 years, Marty Shawver has advocated helping students reach their potential in college through various roles — as a teacher, associate dean and now an administrator. It seems appropriate, then, that the person who works tirelessly to ensure student success is the one overseeing the ceremony honoring the culmination of their education.

Martha Shawver
Photo by Melissa Lacey
Marty Shawver has been an advocate in helping students reach their potential, playing a key role in WSU's recruitment and retention of students.
When it comes to matters that bridge academic and student affairs, Shawver is the "go to" person, said fellow associate vice president of academic affairs and research Nancy McCarthy Snyder.

Shawver's willingness to lead by example is one characteristic that has earned her the respect of others in student support roles.

She not only helped develop WSU's Student Success courses, which are offered in all six colleges to help new students transition to college life and academic work, but she initially helped teach the courses to get firsthand knowledge about what made the courses work.

When Shawver joined the nursing faculty in 1975, she made a quick transition to administrator, serving as a department chair and associate dean in the College of Health Professions.

In 1991, she started working in academic affairs, putting to use her skills in research and in the classroom to help tackle WSU's recruitment and retention of students.

Colleagues laud Shawver for her extensive knowledge and continued enhancement of WSU's advising process. She continuously strives to make sure that WSU not only attracts students, but retains them.

And she shares what she learns from this process to help others: She and Donna Hawley, director of institutional research, are presenting a paper on student satisfaction, recruiting and retention at an academic conference this spring.

Assistant dean Gerri Lichti from the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences credits Shawver with helping WSU develop better relationships with community colleges, which has led to more transfers to WSU.

About five years ago, Shawver closed the circle on her involvement with students. Now she's not only involved in helping recruit students and keep them here, she helps them celebrate the successful completion of their education by managing the university's commencement ceremonies.

Denise Celestin
It's a delicate dance, balancing a full-time teaching load against committee work and community outreach. But Denise Celestin, associate professor of ballet, is nothing if not a delicate dancer.

Denise Celestin
Photo by Melissa Lacey
Teaching ballet is just one aspect of the delicate dance Denise Celestin performs as she balances a full-time teaching load, committee work and community outreach.
Celestin danced professionally for 16 years with respected American ballet and opera companies before settling into university teaching at Ohio universities. She came to Wichita State in 1992 and was immediately immersed in the dance of academia.

She has served the School of Performing Arts well, said Joyce Cavarozzi, an associate professor of theater who has seen Celestin in action on many committees.

"Professor Celestin has a quiet approach that can be overlooked in our all-too-noisy world," said Cavarozzi. "But she is organized, thorough and fair, and is a real problem-solver."

Those qualities have benefited such performing arts committees as tenure and promotion, nontenured evaluations, search, scholarship, handbook and recruitment, said Cavarozzi.

At the university level, Celestin has served on Faculty Senate and the general education, program review, budget and planning, and faculty affairs committees.

She also regularly contributes time to the College of Fine Arts by choreographing for the WSU opera program, at no charge, and for select WSU music recitals.

Outside the university, her choreographic performances have graced Wichita Children's Theatre, Opera Kansas, Wichita Symphony Orchestra and Wichita Contemporary Dance Theatre.

She also regularly offers classes at the Wichita Children's Theatre and Dance Center, and has done lecture demonstrations and workshops for Buckner and Longfellow elementary schools, Brooks Magnet Middle School, and Robinson Elementary in Augusta.

"Denise Celestin is the kind of professor I would wish for in every program," said Cavarozzi. "She is intelligent, talented, giving and supportive."

Julie Scherz
In just six years at Wichita State, Julie Scherz has blazed a committee and task force trail to be envied.

Julie Scherz
Photo by Melissa Lacey
Julie Scherz participates in a number of committees where quality is an issue — she is on the advisory committee of the Center for Teaching and Research Excellence, which helps WSU faculty strengthen their teaching skills, and volunteers for the Distinguished Scholarship Invitational, a competition to attract quality students.
An associate professor for the communicative sciences and disorders department, Scherz is also an alumna of WSU's logopedics programs, earning a bachelor's in 1969, master's in 1971 and doctorate in 1989. She came to WSU after practicing speech pathology in Minnesota and Indiana, and teaching at Indiana and Purdue universities.

Scherz's commitment to teaching, scholarship and service has quickly exceeded expectations for faculty, said Kenn Apel, chair of communicative sciences and disorders.

"Her service to the university, college and department has been stellar and irreplaceable," he said.

Her discipline's national organization, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, has also benefited from Scherz's service and expertise, said Apel, as has the department's Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic.

Her university involvement includes serving on the faculty advisory committee for the Center for Teaching and Research Excellence, Faculty Senate, the Distinguished Scholarship Invitational and distance education task force.

For the College of Education, she has served on the technology, professional development, faculty personnel and awards program committees.

At the department level, Apel said that Scherz has served in just about every possible function. Her committees include doctoral program, curriculum, undergraduate program, graduate admissions, faculty review, dismissal criteria and scholarship. She has served as chair of three faculty search committees, which attests to the confidence and respect her colleagues have for her.

Apel, who is fond of famous quotes, cites Mohammed Ali: "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth," in relation to Scherz.

"I believe Julie Scherz has paid her rent a hundredfold at Wichita State University," he said.

David Soles
The list of professional, university and community committees that 30-year faculty member David Soles has served on in the past decade alone takes more than one single-spaced page in his vita.

David Soles
Photo by Melissa Lacey
David Soles has been on several major departmental, college and university committees, and the fact that he's asked to chair several of those groups shows others trust his ability to lead, according to a colleague.
That he is often asked to chair a committee or serve as an officer in an organization is "a clear indication of the well-placed trust his colleagues have in him," said Robert Feleppa.

Within the philosophy department, which Soles has chaired for 10 years, he has served on every major department committee, from curriculum to advising to program review to search committees, Feleppa said.

Soles has also generously given his time to the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He's chaired tenure and promotion committees, helped search for at least one LAS dean, and has sat on governance and various review committees. He also directs LAS' masters of arts in liberal studies program.

And his committee commitments don't end there. He's served on numerous university-level committees, including tenure and promotion. Not only does he represen the humanities in Faculty Senate, he also has served on the university's meeting-intensive general education committee. He's also currently the president of the WSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

A specialist in the field of ethics, Soles also has served on the board of directors with Kansas Health Ethics and is a current member of Wesley Hospital's ethics review board.

In spite of those heavy department, college and university service commitments, he has compiled an impressive record of service to his profession, Feleppa said. He is a frequent paper referee for publications such as the Journal of the History of Philosophy and Asian Philosophy, and he has served as an officer on several occasions with the Southwestern Philosophical Society.

Glenn Gunnels
Using technology to teach or for meetings can at times be frustrating — machines and systems fail or maybe a certain piece of equipment didn't arrive as asked for.

Glen Gunnels
Photo by Melissa Lacey
A media production technician, Glenn Gunnels gets high praise from several WSU faculty and staff for making sure the technology used in classrooms, during meetings, and in presentations is up to par.
"If it wasn't for the evenhanded and competent way Glenn Gunnels has of dealing with such difficulties, my own attitude toward using technology in the teaching process would be far less positive," said Jackie Snyder, associate professor of technology.

Ask the faculty members, secretaries or directors who've been in charge of securing and running either audio or visual technology loaned from the Media Resources Center, and you'll consistently hear about Gunnels' patience and dedication to making sure all their needs are met.

When the MRC loans digital cameras, the clients will find everything neatly identified and working, including a copy of camera instructions, said Campus Media Services manager Jim Pearce.

When Heskett Center assistant director Michele Harris, who gives several presentations using technology, gets stuck, Gunnels is always willing to help, she said.

When the anthropology department had visiting presenters for the opening exhibition of its Asmat collection, Gunnels was there to make sure PowerPoint presentations and videotapes ran smoothly.

"Thank goodness Glenn took off his Friday night and Saturday and came. It all went perfectly," said anthropologist Dorothy Billings.   " It makes a big difference, not just to our media capabilities, but our morale when we are able to work with such professional competence and cooperation."

As the MRC's media production technician, he also oversees the scheduling of student technicians. Pearce particularly appreciates Gunnels "can-do attitude. It's not unusual for him to come to my office (and say), 'It looks like we will be swamped in the early morning tomorrow. May I come in early?'"

Wanda Hughes
Wanda Hughes has become a sort of expert meeting arranger  and documents handler.

Wanda Hughes
Photo by Melissa Lacey
College of Education dean Jon Engelhardt, right, gives his secretary Wanda Hughes rave reviews for her extensive contribution to prepare for a critical accreditation visit. She also was lauded for serving on the diversity committee of the college and WSU.
When the College of Education had to prepare for a critical on-site accreditation visit, Hughes, as secretary to the dean, had to arrange many, many meetings within the college, across the university and with community partners before reviewers came for their visit.

She typed literally thousands of letters and documents, said dean Jon Engelhardt, as she made preparations for a visit from an 11-member team from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
"Wanda came early or left late and delayed vacation time to ensure accreditation preparations were on schedule," noted Engelhardt.

Hughes had had plenty of experience arranging meetings and details before that visit. She regularly handles details for the college's annual recognition ceremony for the Kansas Teacher of the Year, the college's annual awards event and its spring and fall faculty retreats.

One characteristic associate dean Randy Ellsworth finds "unique" is that while she's the dean's secretary and primary receptionist, Hughes doesn't treat her place at the university as an 8-to-5 desk job.

She is a member of the Classified Senate and as chair of the College of Education's diversity committee, which is dominated by faculty members, she has been instrumental in starting a minority student mentoring program. She's also the only classified staff member on the university's diversity committee.

Jan Toth
In 11 years in the Elliott School of Communication, Jan Toth has helped — or trained, some say — four directors in how to meet deadlines, stay on top of budgets and manage calendars.

Jan Toth
Photo by Melissa Lacey
Jan Toth's title may be administrative specialist but she's more like a jack-of-all trades — handling bookkeeping, purchasing, special events, research assistant and the "training" of four Elliott School directors in 11 years.
"She wears so many hats for the school, it would be difficult to list them all, but here are some: bookkeeping, purchasing, budget analysis, hospitality, special events coordination, secretary and security cadet," said current director Susan Huxman.

Because she's so effectively and so professionally, one student recently identified Toth as "the boss," Huxman said.

During the past year, Toth's efficiency was particularly helpful as the Elliott School conducted three faculty searches. Nearly a dozen candidates benefited from her coordination skills as she kept them on track and helped drive them around town, to the airport and to their hotel.

With the searches complete, the Elliott School is now dealing with assessment-driven and enrollment-management activities, and Toth has had to don an additional hat — that of research assistant, Huxman said.

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