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Valoree Gagnon is the 2018 University Diversity Award Recipient

Valoree Gagnon, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science instructor and research assistant professor of social sciences at Michigan Technological University, was selected as the 2018 University Diversity Award recipient.

The Award recognizes the accomplishments and commitments of a Michigan Tech faculty or staff member who promotes diversity and inclusion through recruitment and retention efforts, teaching, research, multicultural programming, cultural competency, community outreach activities and other initiatives.

Lorelle Meadows, dean of Pavlis Honors College and diversity council co-chair, was on the award review subcommittee that considered nominees’ applications. Meadows noted Gagnon was one of seven qualified faculty and staff nominees from across the University who are doing impressive things on campus to promote diversity.

Meadows said the committee selected Gagnon because “her work covers such a breadth of constituencies and interests on campus that I think that’s why she stood out to us. She’s an instructor in this area so she contributes her perspective in her teaching so she’s touching students. She contributes through external partnerships that she works to build between the University and groups that are off campus. Specifically, she works with our local tribal communities, and she also has an interest in research and scholarship in this area, so she was very well rounded in terms of the way she contributes to the University.”

Meadows also said Gagnon’s “contributions to diversity on campus were strongly evident in the letters of recommendation and the nomination that was presented to us.”

One of Gagnon’s nominees, Melissa Baird, assistant professor of social sciences wrote: “in communities, on grants, in the classroom–she enhances our institutional excellence and broadens and strengthens the University’s mission to increase and support diversity. Since 2008, she has worked to connect Keweenaw Bay Indian community members to the Michigan Tech community.

“Whether through classes or community presentations, multi-agency interdisciplinary grants (e.g., NIH and NSF), or in meetings, she seeks opportunities to facilitate tribal and academic partnerships. And,” Baird continued, “she does this in a way that models what collaborative and engaged research practices look like. She demonstrates that these relationships take time, trust and humility. She knows that each community has something to learn and share, and that these collaborations will ultimately promote productive, long-term connections.”

A standout among many

When Gagnon learned she was selected for the award, she “was overwhelmed. ‘I have so many people I need to nominate over the next several years’–that’s what I thought. Because of what I do, I see and know other people are doing similar kinds of things in very quiet and invisible ways. And I wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”

She followed up by saying, “I didn’t even know there was an award.” The award is fairly new. Gagnon is only the fourth recipient since it was established and first conferred in 2014.

Gagnon said, “the first person I will nominate is Miguel Levy, professor of physics, for what he has done for Indigenous People’s Day Campaign.” She noted Levy among the many who play a part in the work she does on and off campus. Gagnon acts as a liaison connecting people and campaigns for increasing diversity and being inclusive on campus.

“Without these people,” Gagnon said, “it wouldn’t be possible for me to do the kinds of things that I am able to do here–that’s students and faculty and also a lot of community members here in Houghton and Baraga counties and different students and teachers from secondary schools, too. So I’m just fortunate to be uniquely positioned, connected to all these people and ideas.”

Valoree Gagnon has been at Michigan Tech for 13 years. She came to campus as an undergraduate.

“To me diversity is more than a to-do list. It’s not just about inviting guest speakers that are diverse or having events to celebrate the inclusion of diverse peoples. It’s more about how we integrate those lessons into just being who we are. You want others to know, this is the way it is at Michigan Tech. This is what you can expect from our community. Daily.”Valoree Gagnon

In reflecting on the University’s efforts at promoting diversity and inclusion she says, “I can see the changes over the last several years. I can see the growth. It’s not perfect, but it’s growing and strengthening, and I think Michigan Tech should be really proud of that. But of course, there’s always room for growth and that’ll take each of us promoting diversity and inclusion in our everyday encounters. I really believe it is no longer a question of ‘should we’ but now a statement of ‘we must.’” Through teaching, research and service, Gagnon is enacting excellence in diversity and inclusion on Michigan Tech’s campus and in the broader Copper Country region.

Gagnon will receive a $2,500 award and be honored during the Faculty Awards Dinner in September.

Written by Mariana Grohowski, posted to Tech Today, June 14, 2018

 


Victoria Sage Receives Award from Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council

Victoria Sage, technical writer in the Center for Technology & Training (CTT), is the recipient of the 2018 Carmine Palombo Individual Award from the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC). In addition to her duties as a technical writer at the CTT, Sage is editor of the Michigan Local Technical Assistance Program’s The Bridge newsletter.

In announcing the award, the TAMC notes “Vicki’s work in these roles has been a great service to the TAMC in that many of Vicki’s efforts advance the strategies of the TAMC Work Program through key training and educational initiatives for professionals at local transportation agencies. Vicki has also provided leadership and advocacy of asset management principles as well as communicating relevant programs of the TAMC and transportation agencies across Michigan in helping develop stories in The Bridge.”

One of the driving factors in Sage’s nomination for this award was her role in development of the TAMC Bridge Asset Management Workshop. Using innovative features of common desktop software, she transformed the TAMC training into a focused workshop to quickly and easily create a bridge asset management plan for students attending the training.

“Vicki had a vision to improve the creation of bridge asset management plans, and she developed an innovative way to use everyday tools to help the workshop attendees,” says TAMC Bridge Committee Chair Beckie Curtis. “This innovation has been a game changer in terms of what can be accomplished in the training workshops and making it even easier for people to have a document that they can then use to organize treatments in a way that is financially manageable.”

Transportation asset management is a process of managing public assets, such as roads and bridges, based on the long-range condition of the entire transportation system. TAMC, created in 2002 by the Michigan Legislature, promotes the concept that the transportation system is unified, rather than separated by jurisdictional ownership. Its mission is to recommend an asset management strategy to the State Transportation Commission and the Michigan Legislature for all of Michigan’s roads and bridges.

[This article appeared in Tech Today, May 30, 2018]


New Assistant to the Provost for Academic Equity and Inclusion

by Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

After a University-wide search, Audrey Mayer (SFRES) was selected for and has accepted the position as assistant to the Provost for Academic Equity and Inclusion. Mayer’s role in this position began Monday. While serving as assistant to the provost, she will continue in her position as associate professor of ecology and environmental policy.

In her new position, Mayer will work with various councils and groups to provide leadership for campus-wide diversity-enhancement efforts and oversee the University’s response to the Climate Study (conducted earlier this academic year). She will also serve as Michigan Tech’s representative for external groups such as the American Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), the Michigan Associate of State Universities (MASU) and King-Chavez-Parks (KCP).

Provost Jackie Huntoon says, “I am very happy to have Dr. Mayer join the provost’s office team. She has been involved with efforts related to equity and inclusion for many years, and I have come to rely upon her because of her ability to provide me with helpful just-in-time advice. Dr. Mayer will also represent Michigan Tech on some important diversity-related groups and initiatives at the state level.”


New Dean for School of Technology

Michigan Tech announces that Adrienne Minerick (ChE) has been hired to serve as dean for the School of Technology. She will begin serving on July 1 and replaces retiring dean, Jim Frendewey.

Minerick is currently associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering, assistant to the provost for faculty development, and a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech.

Minerick joined the University in 2010. She holds three degrees in chemical engineering; one from Michigan Tech and two from the University of Notre Dame.

Submitted by Office of the Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, published May 15, 2018 in Tech Today


Callahan Named Michigan Tech’s Next Engineering Dean

By Stefanie Sidortsova, published May 14, 2018 in Tech Today

Janet Callahan will become dean of Michigan Technological University’s College of Engineering on July 1, 2018.

Callahan comes to Michigan Tech from Boise State University, where she is chair and professor of the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering. Callahan replaces retiring dean Wayne Pennington.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Callahan to the University,” says Jacqueline Huntoon, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Her record of scholarship, leadership and innovation makes her well suited to lead the College of Engineering as it continues to move forward.”

“Each dean selected in the history of a college has the opportunity to help shape that college’s future,” says Callahan. “I look forward to working with faculty, staff and the administration at Michigan Tech to assure an exceptional quality educational experience for students, and to further enhance the research trajectory of the college and university.”

Mining academic leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit

Callahan brings to the University more than 20 years’ experience in higher education. Her career began in 1992 at the Georgia Institute of Technology as an assistant and then associate professor of materials science and engineering. She was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1996, through which her student, Eden Hunt, patented a new method for creating nanoparticles in sapphire and other oxides using reactive metals.

In 1998, Callahan co-founded a medical device start-up with new intellectual property and took a hiatus from teaching to serve for two years as the company’s director of research. Pulled by her interest in the future of engineering, she returned to her faculty position at Georgia Tech in 2001.

In 2004, Callahan joined Boise State University to help launch its new undergraduate program in materials science and engineering and was then appointed the founding associate dean of Boise State’s College of Engineering. Callahan remained in this position from 2005-2016 before serving the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering as chair.

Callahan played an integral role in securing $40 million in funding from Micron Technology to establish Boise State’s undergraduate and graduate programs in materials science and engineering and to support the Micron Center for Materials Research. She also brought in more than $2.5 million dollars in external funding for academically talented STEM majors and facilitated the establishment of the Boise Center for Materials Characterization.

Callahan holds a PhD in Materials Science, an MS in Metallurgy, and a BS in Chemical Engineering, all from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers.

A foundation in materials

Callahan describes herself as an engineer at heart who remains fascinated by metallurgy and ore, collecting rocks rich in copper, iron and more from her outdoor excursions.

“It takes a massive amount of energy to extract metal out of rock,” Callahan explains. “When we don’t recycle metal, it creates a new cost to our world—to re-create metal from its metal oxide. Because of this, I’m passionate about explaining how important it is that we place each aluminum can, for example, into the right recycling stream.”

When she learned of Michigan Tech’s search for its next dean of engineering, her interest in materials science, combined with the strong national and international reputation of the University’s alumni, led her to apply for the position.

“I felt a visceral connection to the foundational roots of Michigan Tech and to the Keweenaw,” Callahan says. “The native copper here is not oxidized – it’s metal. This means it was cut out of the earth in slabs and shipped on rail. The copper found here supplied most of the copper needs of the country for decades.”

She noted that her interest in the leadership position was also based on Michigan Tech’s reputation in the 21st century as a vital supplier of talented engineers with an international reputation of creativity, work ethic and accomplishment.

Develop leaders, emphasize collaboration, foster excellence

While Callahan is a materials scientist, her research interests extend into STEM education, student retention, STEM teaching and learning, and self-efficacy. Her interest in student life and the non-academic side of higher education led her to live on campus in the Engineering Residential College as part of Boise State’s Faculty in Residence program. Between 2010 and 2012, Callahan lived with her family in a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor, overlooking the Boise River.

At the time, the Engineering Residence College was a co-ed living-learning community, home to first-year engineering students from all engineering majors. Callahan met with the resident students every week and worked with a program assistant to develop student leadership. This resulted in community-focused projects, including an accessible ramp built for a community botanical garden, sage and bitterbrush planted in an area damaged by a wildfire, and a framed Habitat for Humanity house. Callahan remains in touch with the students.

Callahan, who will be the first woman to serve as dean of the College of Engineering, looks forward to developing strong connections with the students, staff and faculty at Michigan Tech, and advancing research that crosses disciplines. “Innovation happens when materials are discovered, new applications of existing materials are found, and theories from one field are applied to another,” she says. “Deans must foster interdisciplinary research and innovation as core principles and find ways to encourage faculty, staff and students to learn, be creative and collaborate.”

“What the students do here, what our talented faculty focus their efforts on, is vital to our nation,” she says. “We need to tell that story.”

 

 


Heldt Grant

Caryn Heldt (ChE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $300,000 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled “Driving Forces in Aqueous Two-Phase Systems for Vaccine Development.” This is a three-year project totaling $300,000.


Tech in 10: Q&A with Nina Mahmoudian

by Allison Mills, Tech Today, April 10, 2018

Michigan Tech’s thought leaders glimpse into the University’s future. Nina Mahmoudian, Lou and Herbert Wacker associate professor in mobile systems of mechanical engineering, reflects on where the field is heading over the next decade.

Q: What is happening today that will change mechanical engineering education and research 10 years from now?

The pieces that make an intelligent system are becoming more accessible and affordable. These components are going to change the face of education and research, especially in robotics. Users are getting younger and getting more hands-on learning opportunities—they’re watching YouTube videos, reading articles, taking online courses. They’re doing a lot of self-learning and teaching themselves programming on their own; kids often come to us with more background because they’re interested. It’s a new way of learning and there are so many opportunities, so we need to take it seriously.

Read the full story at mtu.edu/news.


Coleman-Kaiser Participates in Lean Community of Practice Activities

by Associate Vice President for Administration

Theresa Coleman-Kaiser, senior associate vice president for administration, traveled to Grand Rapids March 16 for a quarterly meeting of the board of directors of the Michigan Lean Consortium (MLC). In her role as board vice president, Coleman-Kaiser coordinated a presentation by Cheryl Ronk, president of the Michigan Society of Association Executives, on best practices for governing boards.

On Jan. 31, Coleman-Kaiser was invited to participate in a live online event presented by Lean Frontiers Direct. This event brought together a group of thought leaders and practitioners who each presented 40-minute webinars on themes from the Shingo Award-winning book “The Toyota Way to Service Excellence” and featured co-authors Jeff Liker and Karyn Ross. Coleman-Kaiser presented “Case Study: My Journey Developing Coaches for Leadership Excellence.” Her session was framed around her personal journey of developing leaders as coaches of continually developing teams. A practical framework was offered as a starting point for developing your own coaching practice. This online session is available for viewing by anyone at Michigan Tech through the end of April. Contact Brenda Randell for login instructions.

Coleman-Kaiser was also recently interviewed by MLC founder Debra Levantrosser as a guest on the Michigan Business Network podcast The Leaning Edge. In this six-minute interview, Coleman-Kaiser talked about her practice of coaching people to achieve their own vision of Leadership Excellence.


Langston Honored by American Society of Environmental Historians

On March 17, Nancy Langston (SS) was awarded the American Society of Environmental Historian’s (ASEH) highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award for 2018. President Graeme Wynn recognized her service to the profession at the annual awards ceremony.  In presenting the award, Wynn cited Langston’s long, varied and vital service to the organization. “Nancy has earned many honors and distinctions, but this award recognizes service to ASEH specifically'” Wynn said.

Langston has been active in the leadership of ASEH for more than 15 years, serving as president from 2007 to 2009, vice president for two years before that and on the Executive Committee from 2003 to 2007.

She edited the journal from 2011 to 2014, and was instrumental in moving the journal to Oxford University Press and establishing the journal web page. She helped negotiate the contract with Oxford, which strengthened ASEH’s financial position.

In addition, she chaired the Outreach Committee (2005-2007) and continues to volunteer for ASEH committees and activities, including the society’s efforts to find and transition to a new executive director.

Langston has contributed significantly to a number of ASEH conferences, chairing the Program Committee for the Victoria conference in 2004 and the Local Arrangements Committee for Madison in 2012. In numerous lectures and editorials, she has drawn academic and public attention to the field of environmental history as a whole.


Hein Honored at National Science Teachers Association

Gretchen Hein (EF), was honored at the National Science Teachers Association National Conference for her advising of the 2017 eigth-grade eCYBERMISSION National Winning Team. eCYBERMISSION is a “is a web-based science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competition for students in grades six through nine that promotes self-discovery and enables all students to recognize the real-life applications of STEM” according to their website. The Lake Linden-Hubbell High School team was comprised of Siona Beaudoin, Beau Hakala and Gabriel Poirier, along with guidance from Ryan Knoll, a student in Chemical Engineering. Hein is advising the ninth-grade eCYBERMISSION team and they have submitted their mission folder for review and evaluation.