Marian faculty, staff earn recognition awards; Hennings receives James R. Underkofler Award

April 26, 2021

Marian University virtually hosted its annual Faculty & Staff Recognition Ceremony recently, presenting a number of awards to employees – including the James Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award to Dr. Amy Hennings.

Hennings, an associate professor of Psychology and Psychology Program Chair, earned the award – which requires the recipient “demonstrate outstanding performance and excellence in undergraduate teaching” as well as “reflect the college’s mission, purpose, and commitment” – because of her deep concern for students’ learning.

The Underkofler award was established through an endowment fund created to honor Mr. James R. Underkofler by Alliant Energy, and is administered by the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Marian is one of five Wisconsin independent colleges eligible for the award.

Observation letters noted her ability to merge the theoretical and the practical through service learning projects, where students research local agencies in the Fond du Lac area to see how their education relates to their professions. The documents also noted her ability to engage controversial topics with respect and grace, surveying multiple viewpoints and recognizing the virtues of them while raising academic challenges to them. Letters from students noted how approachable the honoree is and praised her ability to build a community within and outside of the classroom.

Known by students and colleagues as a person who embodies dedication, professionalism, and rigor, Hennings teaches a wide range of courses from the introductory to upper-level major courses, and continually improves in teaching by bringing research into the classroom in ways that utilize practical experience to illustrate theory and assist student learning. She modifies syllabi, course goals, and objectives to meet learning-centered pedagogy that create classrooms which share responsibility for learning. Students are given multiple options to demonstrate learning through creative research projects that challenge them to construct and meet rigorous criteria.

She also draws from her research and professional experiences beyond the classroom, remaining an active practitioner who engages the course topics she discusses. In this role, she teaches students methods based on real life, contemporary professional experience.

Dr. Heather Price earned the Graduate Teacher of the Year Award, which is given to a faculty member who exemplifies teaching excellence in support of the university’s graduate programs.

Dr. Justin Ponder received the Social Justice Award, which is conferred upon individuals in recognition of their activities in challenging structures that are inequitable, oppressive, wasteful, or violent; or in promoting alternative, just structures.

Tracey Marx, director of Adult and Online Studies, was awarded the Academic Advising Excellence Award. This award identifies positive role models for Marian students and acknowledges the importance the role academic advising plays in the University’s mission and core values and in students’ success.

Carey Gardin, executive assistant to the president and corporate secretary, received the Staff of the Year award. The Staff of the Year award is given to an individual who makes exceptional contributions to the Marian University community in the areas of inspirational focus, community and service, innovation, and proactive leadership and learning.

Roxane Rausch, who teaches in the College of the Professions, Lindsey Kraig, who teaches in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, and Dr. Rebecca Morse, who teaches under Adult and Online Studies, were given Adjunct Teacher of the Year Awards.