Archives—May 2017

Beth Reed Named 2017 Distinguished Teacher

By Mike Meyers | Published May 24, 2017

Learning the names of all her students may not seem significant. But it is one of the factors students cite as what makes Beth Reed an outstanding educator.

Beth Reed, a senior lecturer in the Mathematical Sciences Department of Michigan Technological University, is the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Assistant Professor/Lecturer/Professor of Practice category.

Reed, who is also assistant to the department chair, has been teaching mathematical sciences at Tech since 1985 and has been recognized at the departmental level multiple times for both her teaching and her service. This year she was named to the Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Reed began her academic career in forestry, earning a master’s in forest biometrics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1982. She joined Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science in January of 1983 as a research associate working on four different research projects before moving to the Department of Mathematical Sciences in 1985.

Reed says the secret to her success lies, in part, in her effort to “personalize” her classroom. Though many of her classes have almost 60 students, she learns every student’s name. She say, “I expect and actually get interaction from almost everyone. It really helps that I can call on each person by name. and if they don’t know the answer, I can turn to their neighbor and ask them to help out.”

Her students echo the value of this individual attention. As one student puts it, “She learns everyone’s names and calls on them in class. She tries to include everyone and ask everyone questions. She also has a friendly environment, is easily approachable and easy to listen to.”

Students applaud the structure and the organization of Reed’s classes. One student writes, “She sends an email every Friday laying out the schedule for the next week, which allows preparation.” Reed states she likes to let her students know what to expect, which enables them to focus on “concentrating on the problems rather than worrying about taking notes.”

“Beth is simply an excellent teacher …”Mark Gockenbach

Reed finds ways to give plenty of feedback both in and outside of class, using “worksheet days” that are dedicated to students working on statistical problems in small groups individually. “I am there to answer questions as they come up,” she explains. “We meet at the end of class and go over the entire worksheet so that all students have a corrected version as they leave class. The act of doing statistics rather than listening and/or talking about it has served them well.”

Again, her students confirm the value of this frequent and specific feedback, writing “Professor Reed gives great feedback, in class, on homework assignments and on exams.  I am never left confused about why I was marked down on an assignment, and I can always find an answer or clarification to problems.”

Mark Gockenbach, chair of mathematical sciences, echoes the organized, caring and constantly improving nature of Reed’s teaching. “Beth is simply an excellent teacher—clear, organized, intentional and reflective. She cares about her students and makes an effort to establish a personal connection with each of them, while still holding them to a high standard. Students respond to her enthusiastic and caring style, and I admire the fact that she is still trying to improve her courses even though she has taught them many times before.”

Perhaps the biggest reason for Reed’s success is her desire to motivate as many students as possible to be successful. One student quote summarizes this. “She makes me want to learn. She makes me feel welcome and comfortable. She has respect for all of her students, and we all have respect for her.”

Reed will receive a $2,500 monetary award and a plaque at an awards dinner sponsored by University President Glenn Mroz in the fall. Scott Miers, an associate professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics, received the Distinguished Teaching Award in the Associate Professor/Professor category this year.

 


Susan Liebau Wins 2017 Diversity Award

Posted by Mark Wilcox, Tech Today, May 11, 2017

Established in 2014, Michigan Technological University’s Diversity Award recognizes the accomplishments of a Michigan Tech faculty or staff member who contributes to diversity and inclusion through exemplary leadership and actions.

Susan Liebau, director of the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Michigan Tech Diversity Award.

To qualify for the award, individuals must be nominated by fellow employees, students, alumni, University groups, employee networks and community organizations or other University partners. The award is intended to honor those who have gone above and beyond to further and foster diversity and inclusion at Michigan Tech.

In one of three nomination letters on Liebau’s behalf, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Bonnie Gorman stated, “It’s always gratifying when a student comes and asks for your support because they want to submit a nomination for an award. That’s what happened in this case for Susan.”

Gorman wrote that Liebau, for years the advisor for the Society of African America Men, was approached by members of that organization when the previous advisor left and the group was about to fold. Gorman notes Liebau is an active supporter of the Society of Intellectual Sisters Bra Show and oversees the training of the Orientation Team Leaders and the Wahtera Center coaches which involves nearly 100 students annually.

In another nomination letter, Heather Simpson, assistant director of the Wahtera Center, wrote, “As director of the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success, Susan places an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in all areas she supervises. She actively recruits and encourages underrepresented students to work for the Wahtera Center, in a variety of positions, include key student leadership roles.” Simpson writes that she knows of “no one more deserving” of the Diversity Award than Liebau.

“I feel honored and humbled.”Susan Liebau

“The 120 Wahtera Center staff connects with every first-year student and hundreds more each year,” wrote Ryan Bennett, assistant director of orientation programs. “To say their ability to relate to students is essential would be an understatement. … The stories that result from their efforts provide extremely compelling evidence of Susan’s commitment to promote a diverse and inclusive campus culture.”

Bennett writes Liebau “works determinedly to cultivate and change the norm from the ground up, through the development of meaningful individual relationships and dialogue.”

Kellie Raffaelli, director for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion is chair of the award selection committee, a subset of the University’s Diversity Council, says Liebau is a worthy recipient of the award.

“Susan has been a consistent champion of increasing students understanding of diversity and inclusion throughout campus as well as continually working toward underrepresented students having a stronger sense of belonging here at Tech.”

Raffaelli says Liebau embodies what it means to be an ally and most certainly has “gone above and beyond to create an inclusive campus community.”

Liebau says she looks to ensure students feel welcome, valued and part of a community that will support and encourage them.

“I feel honored and humbled that others recognized how much this means to me and took the time to nominate me for this award,” she says.

“It isn’t always simple or easy, but creating an inclusive and supportive campus is something we should all strive for as a campus community.”

Liebau will receive a $2,500 award and will be recognized during the Faculty Awards Dinner in September. In addition to Liebau, Allison Carter, director of admissions and Josh Olson, chief information officer, were also nominated for the award.