University of Washington colleagues, family and friends came from near and far to celebrate the recipients of this year’s Awards of Excellence on Thursday, June 7 in Meany Hall.
The following is based on remarks made by President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Baldasty at the 48th annual event.
2018 Awards of Excellence Recipients
Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus: Orin C. Smith, ’65 Business
Orin was a visionary whose love for the UW was truly boundless. He served in so many ways, and his impact will be felt forever. It seemed like Orin was everywhere: he served as a regent, as campaign general chair, and on the UW Foundation Board, the UW Medicine Board and the Foster School Advisory Board.
Together with his wife, Janet, Orin created countless opportunities for students here — from fellowships and scholarships to new research and learning facilities at UW Medicine and in the Evans School. A devoted son of Chehalis, Orin always looked for ways to give back, and everything he did was marked by his characteristic kindness and humility.
Through his extraordinary leadership and generosity, Orin exemplified what it means to be a graduate of this University. He is deeply missed, and with this award, we celebrate his incredible impact on our whole community.
Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award: Raymond D. Emory, ’52
U.S. Navy (retired) Architecture (College of Built Environments)
A survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ray fought bravely throughout World War II, but perhaps his greatest legacy will be his years of tireless work to retrieve the names of more than 2,400 unknown servicemen who perished in the Pearl Harbor attack. His efforts to see their sacrifice recognized have brought solace and peace to thousands of families, and we are deeply honored to count him among our most esteemed alumni.
President’s Medal: Grace Shannon Woodard
Psychology (College of Arts & Sciences)
A lifelong Husky despite growing up in Cougar country, Grace has pursued her passion for developmental psychology and childhood resilience at the UW. A stellar performer in the classroom and the lab, she conducted research through the UW Center for Anxiety & Traumatic Stress, taking on a leadership role to support her team. She plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is an outstanding example of what passion and determination can achieve.
President’s Medal: Andrew Vo
Education, Communities and Organizations (College of Education)
Andrew came to the UW from Highline College, where he distinguished himself as a student and a leader. At the UW, he has not only excelled academically, but he worked to create change in the College of Education, advocating for scholarships, mentoring and guiding other students and volunteering at a local elementary school to support and tutor kids dealing with adversity. After graduation, he plans to pursue a graduate degree with the goal of becoming an elementary school teacher.
Distinguished Teaching Award: Karam Dana
Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (UW Bothell)
Karam Dana is an exceptional teacher whose enthusiasm for and commitment to social justice, fairness and equality resonate with his students. He emphasizes active learning in real-world contexts. And he pushes students to expand their thinking and redefine concepts they have taken for granted, by requiring them to identify social issues they want to engage in and create proposals on how they will do so.
Distinguished Teaching Award: Megan Ming Francis
Associate Professor, Political Science (College of Arts & Sciences)
As one of Megan Ming Francis’ undergraduate students notes: “The gift of listening is a lost art in today’s world of divisive politics and quick reposts, but Professor Francis listens willingly and encourages even the most facile debate to lead her students toward the art of finding the logic behind a point of view.” Her lectures have purpose and provoke discussions that bring a higher level of thought. Another student describes Professor Francis as “a force of nature.”
Distinguished Teaching Award: Alexes Harris
Presidential Term Professor, Sociology (College of Arts & Sciences)
Alexes Harris’ chair describes her impact on students as “deep and durable.” In her classes, students learn to focus their interests. Her high expectations prompt them to commit to their studies — and to their lives. She provides ample opportunities for students interested in social-scientific research by allowing them to work on her own research studies. By working with student athletes and serving as an adviser to ethnic community organizations, Professor Harris contributes significantly to the student experience.
Distinguished Teaching Award: Frances McCue
Senior Lecturer, English (College of Arts & Sciences)
At the epicenter of Frances McCue’s pedagogy is the connection between practice and reflection. In her classes, students reflect on how they learn, what they draw upon when they encounter something new and where they go to find resources. She pushes students to reach the next level as writers, thinkers, researchers, collaborators, discussion leaders and discussion participants. “The course,” one student said, “is not merely an academic exercise, it is a meditation on our lives and situations.”
Distinguished Teaching Award: Danica Sterud Miller
Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (UW Tacoma)
In Danica Miller’s classroom, experience, storytelling, repetition and application are regarded as credible and critical ways of learning. She highlights American Indian studies as she engages students in a search for the deeper meanings of their lives as related to their cultures and those of others. Through her own experience as a first-generation student and her work with the Puyallup Tribe, she connects with other Native American students and communities.
Distinguished Teaching Award: Chelsea L. Wood
Assistant Professor, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (College of the Environment)
Chelsea Wood’s classroom is a lively place. Her lectures are well timed, and her delivery is snappy. She keeps her students engaged through storytelling and responding to questions by pushing them to find the answers collaboratively. All of this makes her classes, including Parasite Ecology and Biology of Shellfishes, an adventure full of mystery, discovery and revelation.
Distinguished Teaching Award: Ekin Yaşin
Senior Lecturer, Communication, and Associate Director, Communication Leadership Program (College of Arts & Sciences)
Ekin Yaşin brings the world into her classroom. Drawing on her own global experiences, she introduces students to contemporary issues through different cultural lenses and helps them appreciate internationally diverse points of view. At the same time, she encourages robust conversations among students. She uses humor and warmth to connect with students without sacrificing a bit of academic rigor. Moreover, in the words of a colleague, “She presents complex ideas without eliminating complexity.”
Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology: Jane A. Van Galen
Professor, School of Educational Studies (UW Bothell)
Professor Van Galen isn’t just “the Twitter lady,” according to her nomination. By diving into digital storytelling and social media, she opens students’ minds. While her work can be described as critical media literacy, she has developed a framework that seeks to harness the human experience with technology. Her students produce their own stories about being first-generation college students. They learn to create across multiple forms of media, which they use to advocate for causes that are important to them.
Excellence in Teaching Award: Eldridge Alcantara
Ph.D. Student, Electrical Engineering (College of Engineering)
Eldridge Alcantara wanted to reimagine his department’s support for teaching assistants. Working with the Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching, he overhauled the TA support program, creating a four-hour workshop prior to autumn quarter, followed by in-class evaluations, one-to-one meetings and individualized feedback. The result: All but one of the TA evaluations for autumn quarter were above median performance. “Anecdotally,” one nomination letter read, “these changes seem to have resulted in a stronger sense of camaraderie and support within our TA ranks.”
Excellence in Teaching Award: Sarah Faulkner
Instructor and Ph.D. Candidate, English (College of Arts & Sciences)
Sarah Faulkner is one of the most passionate and accomplished teachers her chair has seen in years. As the instructor of record for eight courses taught during the nine-month academic year, her students give her the highest of marks for “instructor’s contribution.” Last autumn she organized JaneFest, a celebration of the life and works of Jane Austen, drawing more than 600 participants. As one student wrote, she made “a required English class worth coming to because I knew I would learn something.”
Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning Award: P. Dee Boersma
Professor, Biology (College of Arts & Sciences)
It is impossible to overstate the impact that Dee Boersma has had on conservation science education worldwide. She has inspired a generation of undergraduates to think critically about conservation issues. At the graduate and postdoctoral levels, she has taught many scientists who have become conservation science leaders in government, nongovernmental organizations and academia. Professor Boersma writes for general as well as professional audiences. She is in constant demand as an onboard naturalist for UW Alumni cruises to Antarctica and the Galapagos. Dee Boersma exemplifies the UW commitment to innovation in lifelong education for audiences of all ages, across the globe.
University Faculty Lecture Award: Quintard Taylor
Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History, History (College of Arts & Sciences)
In the words of UW historian Michael Honey, “How can we possibly understand the complex region we live in and the complicated nation we inhabit without the deeply grounded historical work of Quintard Taylor? We can’t. It would be a great boon to all of us to hear him provide a summative, provocative, or other kind of lecture on African American and American history in the great American and Pacific Northwest.”
Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award: Suzie Hwang Pun
Robert F. Rushmer Professor, Bioengineering (College of Engineering and UW Medicine)
Whether she’s welcoming middle schoolers into her lab as part of a bioengineering summer camp, mentoring undergraduates or advising one of her former graduates, Suzie Hwang Pun is dedicated to preparing students for success. A graduate student writes: “Suzie developed a personalized training plan that was built around my own talents and needs. What was most important was that Suzie made thoughtful assessments on my progress and was transparent in her expectations.” As a leader and strong female role model in a male-dominated field, Professor Pun’s own success and reputation motivates and inspires her students and colleagues alike.
Distinguished Staff Award: Master Plan Core Team
Capital Planning & Development, University Architect and UW Bothell
- Julie Blakeslee, Environmental & Land Use Planner
- Kristine Kenney, Director of Campus Design & Planning
- Kelly Snyder, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government & Community Relations
- Amy Van Dyke, Director of Physical Planning and Space Management
As a team, Julie, Kristine, Kelly and Amy have set the bar for collaboration. Their respect for the needs of the greater community and for diverse viewpoints has helped to truly engage the community and build trust. Whether a project was complicated by multiple clients, long time frames, logistical hurdles or miles of red tape, they persevered to make this development of the master plan and its approval by the City of Bothell possible.
Distinguished Staff Award: Kelly Canaday
Adviser and Program Manager, Dance (College of Arts & Sciences)
Kelly is known as a fierce advocate for students, from helping them secure stable housing to reserving seats for underrepresented-minority students in entry-level courses. No wonder the number of students pursuing a dance major has risen dramatically since she became adviser! She is an inspired recruiter and a savvy guide who helps students navigate the dance major. Her empathy, commitment to access, efficiency and generous spirit are deeply appreciated by her whole department.
Distinguished Staff Award: Wai Pang Chan
Research Coordinator, Biology (College of Arts & Sciences)
Pang embodies the phrase “innovation mindset.” He’s always learning about the newest technology advances and putting that knowledge to work in keeping the Natural Sciences Division’s high-end, high-priced equipment in excellent condition. And he’s a champion at finding cost-effective ways to get the latest and greatest technology tools for our students and faculty. A born problem solver, Pang’s devotion is well known, perhaps most famously when he worked until 3:30 a.m. to restore server access while on vacation halfway around the world.
Distinguished Staff Award: Robin V. Luke
Dental Hygienist, Advanced General Dentistry Clinic (School of Dentistry)
“Gentle,” “caring” and “knowledgeable” is how Robin’s colleagues and patients describe her. Even in the most demanding situations, she keeps her cool and shows her unstinting devotion to patient care and achieving the best health outcomes. Her work is always thorough and careful, whether she’s treating university presidents or a child on the autism spectrum. She will be retiring this year, so it’s a special honor to present this award after her years of stellar service.
Distinguished Staff Award: Jerrett Roberge
Machinery Mechanic Lead, Facilities Services
When others aren’t sure what to do, Jerrett is the one to seize the bull by the horns. He’s a thoughtful problem solver whose ingenuity has often saved money and time while improving systems and equipment. And he’s not only a technical wiz — he’s known as a great leader and a friendly, cooperative, curious and hardworking colleague. Without fanfare, he’s led the implementation and support of changes to minimize disruption.
David B. Thorud Leadership Award, faculty: Gail Joseph
Associate Professor, College of Education
“Impact” is the first word her colleagues use to describe Gail and her outstanding leadership in the field of early-childhood education. As the founding director of the Early Childhood and Family Studies undergraduate program, and an accomplished researcher, her impact has been felt here in Washington and across the nation. Her passion and excitement for her field, coupled with her leadership on multiple projects and initiatives, reflects her deep knowledge, expertise and overall excellence.
David B. Thorud Leadership Award, staff: Sonya G. Cunningham
Director, STARS Program (College of Engineering)
Thanks to Sonya’s leadership, the outcomes for STARS students — those studying engineering in our Washington State Academic RedShirts program — have been simply spectacular. With a phenomenal 79 percent retention rate, STARS is making a real difference for underrepresented students in engineering fields, and Sonya has used her position to be a true advocate for this cohort. Her leadership exemplifies what the UW is all about, helping to change the face of UW Engineering and providing a valuable model to our peer institutions.
Distinguished Librarian Award: Leslie Hurst
Head of Teaching & Learning and Literature & Humanities Librarian, Campus Library, UW Bothell and Cascadia College (University Libraries)
Leslie is a crucial element in the success of many faculty and students, with her deep knowledge of pedagogy. She has led the development of library instruction for information literacy pedagogy, enabling UW Bothell libraries to thrive. And her calm, supportive approach makes her a favorite with students, in class and in the library, where they often seek her out. That’s no surprise, since she always goes the extra mile to ensure that students understand the material.
Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award: Ralina Joseph
Associate Professor, Communication, and Director, Center for Communication, Difference and Equity (College of Arts & Sciences)
Among her many accomplishments, Ralina created the Interrupting Privilege seminar, a program for students and alumni to exchange ideas about race and equity. The seminar has proven extremely popular, thanks to her leadership and passion. She is an extraordinary teacher and thinker, devoted to her students of every generation. The UW Alumni Association is deeply grateful for her partnership and service as she makes a difference in how students and alumni relate to each other and the world around them.
Distinguished Retiree Excellence in Community Service Award: Robert Crawford
Professor Emeritus, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (UW Tacoma)
As the founder of the Washington State Religious Campaign Against Torture, Rob has worked tirelessly to advance human rights for all people. His thoughtful and principled scholarship, combined with a talent for building alliances and effective advocacy, reflect his own values and the values of our University. His enormous compassion, respect for human life and dignity, and ability to mobilize others in service of the cause are a credit to this institution.
Outstanding Public Service Award: Elizabeth Dawson-Hahn
Acting Assistant Professor, Pediatrics (UW Medicine)
Elizabeth Dawson-Hahn is steadfast in her commitment to the equitable care of patients from underserved populations. She co-founded a coalition of health and service providers who advocate for the well-being of refugees, immigrants and those seeking asylum in Washington state. When immigration policies recently became more restrictive, she organized a panel discussion of experts to raise awareness and engage the community. Her nomination reads: “She embodies the spirit of caring and compassion for her community, civic engagement and standing up for those who need a voice.”
Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award: William D. Cole
Professor, Music, and Director, Husky Marching Band (Athletics)
William Cole shared his love of music with countless students, at least 20 of whom went on to become music educators and band directors in Washington state public schools, extending his influence well beyond the 13 years he spent directing the Husky Marching Band and teaching music. One former student, who is now a band director, said, “Mr. Cole’s influence on my musical life is still being felt today. His approach to phrasing, conducting and musicality have been my standard.”