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Six Kansas State University educators receive Presidential Awards for outstanding work

Monday, April 3, 2017

 

MANHATTAN — Five Kansas State University faculty members and one graduate student are receiving the 2017 Presidential Awards for excelling as educators, advisors and administrators.

The awards include a $5,000 honorarium sponsored by the university president's office and Curtin Property Company, a real estate development firm with offices in Manhattan and Kansas City.

Receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are Ronaldo Maghirang, professor of biological and agricultural engineering and associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Engineering; Ashley Rhodes, teaching associate professor of biology; Craig Spencer, associate professor of mathematics; and Stephanie Kurti, doctoral student in kinesiology, Naperville, Illinois.

Karin Westman, English department head, will receive the Presidential Award for Outstanding Department Head. Tami Duch, advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences, will receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.

"We are pleased to partner with the K-State president's office in honoring these talented teachers," said Chris Curtin, president of Curtin Property Company and its Manhattan associates at Georgetown Apartment Homes and Westchester Park Apartments. "Their dedication to students and professional excellence is an inspiration."

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching recognize educators who serve students with compassion, dedication and creativity.

Maghirang appreciates opportunities to help students learn complex systems, make a difference in their lives and watch them become successful in their future careers. He has taught a variety of courses, including Air Pollution Engineering, Structures and Environment Engineering, and Agricultural Building Systems. He also advises students in the biological systems engineering and agricultural technology management programs. He is the administrator of the Engineering Leadership and Innovation Program in the College of Engineering. Maghirang has received several awards, including the Robert R. and Lila L. Snell Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, Clair A. Mauch Steel Ring Advisor of the Year, Myers-Alford Memorial Teaching Award, James L. Hollis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, and Frankenhoff Outstanding Research Award in the College of Engineering. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of the Philippines Los Baños and his doctorate from Pennsylvania State University.

Rhodes enjoys discovering the best ways to help undergraduates understand and use new information. She teaches Structure and Function of the Human Body and Physiology of Adaptations. She specializes in multimedia development in undergraduate physiology courses and the effects of instructional media on learners with little prior subject knowledge. She has received the Commerce Bank Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching, the K-State Panhellenic Professor of the Month, National Residence Hall Honorary University and Regional Faculty of the Month, Motor Board National Honor Society Outstanding Faculty Member Award, Haymaker Teaching Excellence Award and the William L. Stamey Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. Rhodes earned her bachelor's, master's and doctorate from Kansas State University.

Spencer appreciates the hardworking and positive attitudes of Kansas State University undergraduates and especially enjoys teaching topics that are completely new to them. He has taught 10 different courses in his nine years at the university and is currently teaching Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers and Analytic Geometry and Calculus I. He is a co-principal investigator for math education grants from the Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas Board of Regents. He was the principal investigator for three grants from the National Security Agency. He has received the William L. Stamey Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and an Open Textbook Initiative Award. Spencer earned his bachelor's degree from Carleton College and his master's and doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Kurti finds fulfillment in helping students think critically about new concepts, tie those concepts into their everyday lives and, most of all, gain confidence in their unique abilities. She has taught a variety of exercise- and kinesiology-related classes and currently teaches an anatomy and physiology laboratory course through the kinesiology department. In 2016, she received the University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Research Award, the Central States American College of Sports Medicine Doctoral Student Research Grant, the Rick Scheidt Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Research in Aging, and the K-State Alumni Association Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Research and Academics. She also has earned several grants at the university and college level. In 2016 she was named the kinesiology department's Distinguished Doctoral Student of the Year and the College of Human Ecology's Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year. She earned her bachelor's from the University of Mary Washington and her master's from Florida Atlantic University.

The Presidential Award for Outstanding Department Head is awarded each year to a department head who displays proactive and positive leadership qualities, fosters a positive environment, integrates strategic planning, empowers department members and is innovative in regard to new programs.

Westman is known for spending time and effort that many people would not expect from a department head to serve, assist and listen to students, faculty and administrators. She assists department members in large ways, such as furthering their career aspirations, and in small ways, such as working with facilities staff to handle maintenance issues. Westman puts others first, helping faculty, staff, students and fellow administrators figure out how to achieve their goals. She has ensured the recruitment and retention of excellent faculty and increased the number of women and underrepresented faculty at all ranks. During her headship, she has served a major professor for 15 graduate students, written books and award-winning articles, taught graduate and undergraduate classes, presented at conferences, and co-edited a peer-reviewed journal. She earned her bachelor's from Wellesley College and her master's and doctorate from Vanderbilt University.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising recognizes advisors who not only assist advisees with course scheduling but also engage in developmental coaching regarding career and life planning.

Duch has enjoyed advising students, listening to their stories and helping them discover who they are for 10 years. As an open option program advisor, she sees her role as a connector between the university and K-State students who do not belong to a department. She creates conversations that engage students in helping them find their place at Kansas State University and determine their path for the future. Duch is a member of the Transfer Advising Subcommittee, the Majors Minors and More Event Committee, and the K-State Advisor Forum. She has presented at several state and national conferences of NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. Duch earned her bachelor's from Missouri State University and her master's from Kansas State University.

Written by

Tiffany Roney
785-532-4486
troney@k-state.edu

At a glance

Five Kansas State University faculty members and one graduate student are receiving the 2017 Presidential Awards for excelling as educators, advisors and administrators.