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K-State News

K-State News
Kansas State University
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University partners with Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation to honor four outstanding faculty members

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


MANHATTAN — Four Kansas State University faculty members are winners of the 2017 Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.

This year's award recipients are Bradley Burenheide, associate professor of curriculum and instruction and associate director of the Center for Social Studies Education; Sabri Ciftci, associate professor of political science and Michael W. Suleiman chair; Cathie Lavis, associate professor and extension specialist of landscape management; andBryan Orthel,assistant professor of interior design and interior design program coordinator.

Sponsored by the William T. Kemper Foundation and the Commerce Bancshares Foundation and coordinated through the Kansas State University Foundation, the awards include a $2,500 honorarium.

"Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation have partnered with K-State for over 20 years to support excellent education of undergraduate students," said Tom Giller, chairman of Commerce Bank, Manhattan. "We are pleased to continue this tradition by honoring these four exceptional educators for the way they prioritize students."

University President Richard Myers said supporting exemplary faculty helps the university achieve its goals for the future.

"It's a pleasure to recognize our extraordinary educators, and I am grateful to Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation for partnering with us to honor them," Myers said. "The support we receive from the community is fundamental as K-State continues making progress toward our goal of becoming a Top 50 public research university by 2025."

Burenheide has served students in many ways, including by participating in the College of Education's Open/Alternative Resource Initiative. Through the initiative, he developed an iBook for one of his courses, Secondary Social Studies Methods, which is saving students $4,200 a year. Burenheide also teaches Secondary Social Studies Practicum and Student Teaching Internship, and he is an Honors Program adviser. He gave an in-depth interview for the college's documentary film, "Dawn of Day: Stories from the Underground Railroad." Additionally, he was co-organizer of the College of Education's 2017 "We the People," which drew the largest number of participants in the event's 30-year history. He presented "Let's Ramp Up Social Studies Education" at the fifth annual Social Studies Symposium. He earned his bachelor's from Ottawa University, his master's from Fort Hays State University and his doctorate from Kansas State University.

Ciftci hopes to increase students' understanding of how the Middle East is relevant to everyday life in the U.S. and has contributed to human civilization worldwide. Ciftci is the founder of the Middle East Speaker Series and has recently organized the Public Opinion, Gender and Conflict in the Middle East Conference. He teaches Middle East Politics, Comparative Politics, Advanced Research Methods and Political Islam, which he is revising through a Curriculum Development Grant from the Global Religion Research Initiative. Ciftci has received the College of Arts and Sciences' William L. Stamey Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and he was appointed the Michael W. Suleiman chair in Arab and Arab-American studies in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2015. He participates in the Muslim Student Association, the Egyptian Student Association and other student-led international organizations at Kansas State University. He earned his bachelor's and master's from Ankara University in Turkey and a second master's and his doctorate from Florida State University.

Lavis aims to help students become the best version of themselves while they learn horticultural concepts for establishing and maintaining viable ecosystems. Her courses include Business of Landscape Contracting; Landscape Irrigation Systems; Landscape Irrigation Design and Arboriculture; Landscape Maintenance; and Water Issues in the Lawn and Landscape. She has received several awards for teaching and advising, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, the College of Agriculture's Outstanding Advisor Award, the American Horticultural Society's Great American Gardner Teaching Award, the Irrigation Foundation's Outstanding Educator Award, and the International Society of Arboriculture's prestigious Alex L. Shigo Award for Excellence in Arboricultural Education. Lavis earned her bachelor's from Oklahoma State University and her master's and doctorate from Kansas State University.

Orthel enjoys guiding students to solve problems themselves so they are better prepared to solve the more complex problems they will face in the future. He teaches Advanced Interior Design Theory, Construction Methods and Materials for Interior Design, and three interior design studios at the introductory and capstone levels. His experience in professional practice working for small-scale commercial clients informs his teaching, and his research on preservation projects in small communities provides engagement projects for his students to work with real clients. He frames class projects through real-world issues like building codes and client interactions to help students build the knowledge and processes they will need to be successful after graduation. Orthel earned his bachelor's from the University of Oregon, his master's from the University of Kentucky and his doctorate from Washington State University.

The award winners will be recognized at the All-University Awards Program on May 1.

Written by

Tiffany Roney

At a glance

Four Kansas State University faculty members are winners of the 2017 Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award.