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K-State Today

February 8, 2023

Stamey and Gaches teaching and advising award winners announced

Submitted by Marcia Locke

The College of Arts and Sciences announces and congratulates the winners of the 2022 William L. Stamey and Ronald N. Gaches Awards for outstanding undergraduate teaching and advising.

William L. Stamey Award for Undergraduate Teaching:

  • Audrey Joslin, geography and geospatial sciences.
  • Tom Sarmiento, English.

William L. Stamey Award for Graduate Teaching Assistant:

  • Adriana Ortiz-Aquino, mathematics.
  • Taylor Vargo, psychological sciences.

William L. Stamey Award for Advising:

  • Martha Smith-Caldas, biology.

Ronald N. Gaches Lifetime Teaching Award:

  • Greg Eiselein, English.
  • Virginia Naibo, mathematics.

Ronald N. Gaches Teaching Award:

  • Michi Tobler, biology.

William L. Stamey Awards

The late William "Bill" Stamey was a mathematician who served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1970-1987. In recognition of his success in recruiting outstanding faculty to the university, and to continuously foster excellence in teaching and advising, the college established the William L. Stamey Awards.

The 2022 Stamey Undergraduate Teaching Awards, which pay a stipend of $1,000 each, go to Audrey Joslin, associate professor of geography and geospatial sciences, and Tom Sarmiento, associate professor of English and faculty affiliate for gender, women and sexuality studies.

Charles Martin, head of geography and geospatial sciences, said of Joslin:

"Audrey is a wonderful teacher and a leader in involving undergraduate students in experience-based learning and research. Former students say ‘she has proven to be a great professor and has provided me and my peers with great research opportunities’. She is more than a professor; she is a great resource and an excellent mentor."

Anne Phillips, associate head of English, said of Sarmiento:

"Dr. Tom, as his students fondly refer to him, is a gifted and beloved teacher. His students across majors and levels praise his creation of lively classroom communities through his 'infectious energy and passion.' His classroom environment is comfortable and safe. The students commend his engagement, innovative pedagogies, patience and humor, and take additional classes with him when they can."

The 2022 Stamey Awards for Graduate Teaching Assistants, which pay a stipend of $500 each, go to Adriana Ortiz-Aquino, mathematics, and Taylor Vargo, psychological sciences.

Andrew Bennett, head of mathematics, said of Ortiz-Aquino:

"Ms. Ortiz-Acquino has taken on many different and challenging teaching assignments. She has worked successfully with our putatively weakest and most nervous students in College Algebra. In addition to teaching recitations, she handled our College Algebra Workshop, where she worked with students identified as needing extra support. She provided that support so they could become comfortable with college-level mathematics and succeed. Students praise her caring approach and ability to help struggling students ‘not feel ludicrous.'"

Heather Bailey, associate professor of psychological sciences, said of Vargo:

"Taylor Vargo has demonstrated excellence in teaching across large lectures, smaller labs and specialized courses, as well as in one-on-one mentoring. She has also developed and maintained an active program of research and made valuable service contributions. Her knowledge and devotion to her students are superlative."

The 2022 Stamey Award for Advising, which pays a stipend of $750, goes to Martha Smith-Caldas, teaching professor of biology.

Eve McCulloch, director of undergraduate studies in the Division of Biology, said of Smith-Caldas:

"Martha offers the best of what it means to be a faculty advisor. She is a caring and knowledgeable mentor who goes above and beyond to help students. One advisee said, "Dr. Caldas has helped me understand what classes will help me … get to medical school, and she checks in with me … about my classes, how I feel about them, what I am learning and how I see this helping me achieve my goal." Another said, "She truly has gone above and beyond to help me make a smooth transition and remain successful throughout these challenging three years. I view her as one of my most influential mentors."

Ronald N. Gaches Awards

Ronald "Ron" Gaches, former chair of the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Advisory Council, established two awards to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching in the college.

The Gaches Lifetime Teaching Award is for tenured faculty members who have taught at K-State for at least five years. It pays a $2,000 stipend. The 2022 winners are Greg Eiselein, Donnelly professor of English, university distinguished teaching scholar and director of the K-State First program; and Virginia Naibo, professor of mathematics.

Karin Westman, head of English, said of Eiselein:

"Students, alumni and colleagues consistently describe Greg Eiselein as compassionate, enthusiastic, passionate, engaging, patient and inspiring. Their praises here and across the country bear witness to Greg’s own assessment of his pedagogy as being active, engaging and inclusive, with the goal of continuous learning. Greg is truly dedicated to achieving meaningful and successful undergraduate learning experiences."

Andrew Bennett, head of mathematics, said of Naibo:

"Professor Naibo is an outstanding instructor who helps students realize they can learn — and even like — mathematics. She has developed innovative new classes and excelled at teaching our traditional offerings. She has been extremely successful working with students who love math and those who are frightened of it. She is a rare professor who can be assigned to any class or project and have it be a hit. She … doesn’t just provide students information; she coaches them to believe in themselves and their ability to learn."

The Gaches Teaching Award recognizes tenured or tenure-track faculty members who teach upper-level undergraduate courses and engage in teaching innovations that improve pedagogical practices. It pays a $1,000 stipend. The 2022 winner is Michi Tobler, professor of biology.

A student said of Tobler:

"Michi is hands-down one of the best professors I've ever had. I always loved coming to class, even on days when I wasn't feeling my best. He made classes engaging and the content interesting. This year was especially cool because we got to study a very real evolutionary problem of COVID-19 strains. I also really appreciated how available he made himself to help students. I cannot give enough positive feedback here, but overall, I'm extremely grateful to Michi for making this course the best it could be."