Category: News

House Family Foundation Gives $2.3 Million for Endowed Professorships, Graduate Student Assistantships

Kui Zhang, Dave House and Min Song
Kui Zhang, Dave House and Min Song

Recipients have been named for two professorships endowed by Dave House, an alumnus and longtime supporter of Michigan Technological University. The House Family Foundation gave $1 million to support each professorship and another $270,000 to fund graduate student assistantships.

Min Song, chair of the Department of Computer Science at Michigan Tech, will hold the Dave House Endowed Professorship in Computer Science. Kui Zhang, professor of mathematical sciences, will hold the Dave House Endowed Professorship in Statistics, Data Mining and Data Analytics.

The graduate student assistantships will provide $30,000 annually to each of three graduate assistants in Michigan Tech’s new Master of Science in Data Science program for three years. They will contribute to the research of the Alliance for Computing, Information and Automation Research Center at Tech.

Read more at Michigan Tech News.


Syd Johnson Presents on Head Trauma

L. Syd M Johnson
L. Syd M Johnson

The final KIP Faculty and Graduate Student seminar was held on Friday Dec. 4, at 3pm in the ATDC Conference Room. Dr. Syd Johnson from the Department of Humanities presented on the ethical and legal implications surrounding concussions and CTE (chronic traumatic en​cephalopathy). This is timely as there is a new movie out this month called “Concussion” (features Will Smith) which highlights Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery of CTE in NFL athletes and how his scientific findings were challenged by the NFL. Below are a few background links that might be of interest. This should be a great talk to wrap up the fall seminar series!

Head trauma: Key questions on CTE lack answers

From the Department of Humanities.

HOUGHTON – Decades after the first research on concussions and chronic head trauma, there’s a widespread effort to mitigate their damage. But many of the most pressing questions still don’t have answers.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese (subscription required).


Three Inducted into Academy of Educators 2015

The Academy of Educators induction ceremony was held on Saturday, October 3, 2015. This year two alumni educators and one honorary member were recognized as those who brought distinction to themselves, Michigan Technological University and the Teacher Education program, through their participation, commitment, outstanding leadership, and/or public service in the field of education.

Awards were presented by Bruce Seely, Dean, College of Sciences and Arts, Susan Amato-Henderson, Chair, Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, and Shari Stockero, Director of Teacher Education, Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences.

The 2015 inductees are:

Dennis P. Harbour
Master’s in School Administration, ‘77
Bachelor of Science, Business Education, ‘74
Superintendent of Schools (retired)
Copper Country Intermediate School District

Darrell R. Hendrickson
Bachelor of Science, Forestry, ‘77
Secondary Teacher Certification, ‘01
7th Grade Teacher
Washington Middle School
Public Schools of Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw

Charles G. Schepke
Master of Science, Applied Science Education, ‘05
Bachelor of Arts, Biology, ‘87
Secondary Teaching Certification, ‘94
5th – 8th Grade Teacher
Roscommon Middle/High School

Portraits and brief vitae of these distinguished academy members will be prominently displayed in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences to serve as inspirational role models for Michigan Tech students.

Academy of Educators 2015
Academy of Educators – 2015 Inductees

Exploring Majors Live Streaming Event July 23

Exploring majors is a good thing! Not being sure what you want to major in means you’re open to exploring options and finding what is best for you. Join academic advisor, Sylvia Mathews, for an overview on the benefits of being undecided and the many options available at Michigan Tech to help you find a major that best suits your interests, talents and values without delaying graduation or losing money pursuing a major that isn’t right for you. Questions? We’ll be happy to answer them live!

Attend the Preptalk “Exploring Majors: the benefits of being undecided” at 2:30 pm on Thursday, July 23, 2015.

Exploring Majors


Kerfoot Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles Kerfoot
Charles Kerfoot

Professor Charles Kerfoot (BioSci) has received the 2015 IAGLR Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association for Great Lakes Research. The award recognizes important and continued contributions to the field of Great Lakes research for 20 years or more. In a letter notifying Kerfoot of the award, Douglas D. Kane, president of the IAGLR, congratulated him on an “incredibly productive and significant career.”

From Tech Today.


Reception for Pat Martin on May 15, 2015

Pat Martin
Pat Martin

The Department of Social Sciences invites the campus community to recognize Pat Martin for his 38 years of service to Michigan Tech as Professor of Archaeology. The department will hold a reception to recognize Pat from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, May 15, on the 2nd floor of the Annex to the Academic Office Building.

Pat, who has served as the Chair of Social Sciences for the last six years, was instrumental in the creation of the department’s Industrial Archaeology graduate program. After his retirement, Pat will remain active as a research professor, initiating projects and advising students, as well as serving as the Executive Secretary of the Society for Industrial Archeology and as the President of The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage — so “retirement” is slightly misleading.

From Tech Today, by Department of Social Sciences.


CSA Co-Sponsors Superior Health Foundation Outing

SHF-AnnualGolf-061915The College of Sciences and Arts is among those sponsoring lunch and prizes for the annual Superior Health Foundation (SHF) Golf Outing.

It takes place in Gwinn on June 19, 2015. SHF is proudly partnering with Child & Family Services of the U.P. on the event, with Child & Family Services using their portion of the net proceeds to address homeless adolescents in the U.P. There are 11 teams signed up, with 22 being the cutoff.

Registration and sponsorship forms are online at SHF.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: David Olson

David A. Olson
David A. Olson

Dean Bruce Seely of the College of Sciences and Arts has chosen to recognize David Olson, a senior lecturer in mathematical sciences as the final Dean’s Teaching Showcase member for spring 2015.

Dean Seely commented on this selection by saying, “Up to this point I have selected younger faculty whose ideas and approaches seem naturally to align with the national patterns of past practices in the class room. For the third selection, however, I am focusing on a person whose demonstration of sustained excellence in teaching and instruction should motivate everyone–David Olson. He has been a leader in teaching in a department noted for excellence. He has taken on the task of adding the necessary knowledge and the external certifications of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) that allow him to guide the department’s actuarial sciences concentration. He has helped advise majors and served on numerous curricular committees. But the most important reason for recognizing Olson is the length of time he has been so good.”

Olson’s initial reaction to Seely’s nomination was “Yikes, I’ve been here 20 years. How did that happen?” But his second reaction was more serious and significant, for it signals the reality of the challenge university faculty face in the classroom. “Teaching technology is progressing so rapidly that I’m hopelessly far behind,” he noted, before adding “If anyone is not hopelessly far behind, they’re not paying attention. I’m sometimes on the bleeding edge, like when Canvas came out, but mostly I look for items where the process just got simpler, like recording class for student-athletes. BIG change, and one that will make it much easier to put together videos.”

Seely sees this technology question as “an obvious conundrum for faculty today.” He and Olson agree that it’s not enough just to know “what the newest ideas and approaches are.” Instructors need to find out “…which ones make sense for the needs at Michigan Tech.” Seely emphasizes, “Novelty for its own sake almost never makes sense in such a dynamic environment. DavidO’s key understanding is that technology needs to facilitate student learning.”

In order to help with this process, Olson focuses on interaction. “My biggest trick is that I listen to students, face-to-face. How is the class going? Concerns? Are there any issues that aren’t clear? What’s really helping you learn? Do you have a good study group? How’s life? What’s your favorite movie? Every now and then a student tells me that some random classroom activity really helped, and so I’ll do more of it, and ask other students whether it’s helping them.” Moreover, Olson notes the vital necessity of talking to other faculty members as well to find out what they are trying, what’s working, and what’s not.

The point is that Olson is never satisfied. “In that last desperate 15 minutes before class, I’m usually asking myself the following questions: ‘What am I trying to accomplish? What activities might work?’ Experiment. Tweak, tweak, tweak.”

The final gauge of this desire to always seek better outcomes can be found in Olson’s last comment. “I have dreams of a revolution, a new STEM sequence that takes advantage of what’s now possible with multimedia and the internet: Scientific Modeling with Calculus and Computers.” Seely indicates that this goal matches nicely with some ideas circulating within the department, so he fully expects to see such a class take shape in the near future. Seely emphasizes, “But at root, this initiative will grow from Olson’s constant drive to do things better to help students learn.”

Olson will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon during 14th week. Please join Dean Seely and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Olson for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.

From Tech Today, April 17, 2015, by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Andrew Galerneau

Andrew Galerneau
Andrew Galerneau

Bruce Seely, Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts, provided significant context for this week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee, Andrew Galerneau. Andrew, a lecturer in the chemistry department, is primarily responsible for teaching Organic Chemistry, which, according to Seely is “one of the more dreaded foundational courses for majors and non-majors.” Seely knows that student evaluations are generally lower in classes that are “large, required and foundational”, and Organic Chemistry is all three of these.

But according to Seely, Andrew “sees this situation as a challenge, not a limiting factor.” By making use of research-based active learning strategies and motivational techniques like gamification, Andrew helps students “really learn the material”. At the same time, Andrew’s enthusiasm and excitement helps him “bring students – even those who are initially reluctant – to see material as interesting and important.” Andrew’s passionate commitment to helping students learn keeps the course positive in this challenging environment.

Andrew demonstrates this passion as he describes his teaching methods. Speaking about his technique of having students answer three open-ended pre-lecture questions before each lecture, he says: “ I personally grade at least of third of these questions prior to lecture and deliver direct feedback on my student’s assignments. I want them to know that I am reading what they write and that I am actively interested in how they are learning the material.” He also provides small incentives for discussion board participation and uses an “achievement system” to recognize students using anonymous monikers and Canvas announcements for perfect performance in certain elements of the class. His goal is to “foster a community of students who are passionate to engage in peer-to-peer learning.”

Seely sees Galerneau as the latest committed faculty member to bless the chemistry department, placing him on a list with people like Fredrick Williams (for whom the instructional innovation award was named) and Paul Charlesworth (an instructional innovation award winner who has extensively developed content and methods in the introductory chemistry course.) Seely feels “very lucky to have people who possess such passion and excitement about, and dedication to, teaching.”

Andrew will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Seely and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Andrew for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.

From Tech Today, March 6, 2015, by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Scott Kuhl

Scott A. Kuhl
Scott A. Kuhl

The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the College of Sciences and Arts. Dean Bruce Seely has chosen to recognize Scott Kuhl, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science with an adjunct appointment in Cognitive and Learning Sciences. Dean Seely values “what Scott Kuhl attempts to accomplish as a teacher mainly for the mindset he employs, and less for the specific teaching techniques has adopted.” He notes that Scott “does not differentiate between regular classes, summer youth and support for Enterprise activities as educational venues—but approaches all with the goal of creating a fun and motivating environment.”

In his more traditional courses, Scott does attribute his teaching success to specific techniques, like providing detailed assignment descriptions with numerous tips to “help get students going in the right direction.” He also provides numerous examples, some of which he walks through in class in detail, and encourages students to share additional examples with each other. Finally, he emphasizes prompt feedback for his students. He has accomplished this by creating an automatic grading program which provides a “provides a transparent, well-defined set of expectations for assignments” and a score that can be adjusted by an instructor or grader as necessary. He’s even willing to share this tool with those interested.

Kuhl is also focused on continual improvement. Though the Husky Game Development (HGD) Enterprise he leads is focused on games, he attributes its dramatic growth under his leadership to a careful cycle of feedback, change and evaluation. He sees the value of interdisciplinary teamwork, communication, development and management for students in HGD, and has led the group in both publishing academic papers and receiving sponsorship from both Chrysler and the Department of Labor.

Scott will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Seely, computer science chair Min Song and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Scott for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.

From Tech Today, January 30, 2015, by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL.