The College of Arts & Letters celebrated its outstanding faculty, staff, and students for their accomplishments in teaching, research, and community impact at the 2018 MSU College of Arts & Letters Alumni Board Awards ceremony, held on April 15 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
Six different awards were presented, including the Paul Varg Award, Innovation and Leadership Award, Community Partner Award, Fixed-Term Faculty and Academic Specialist Leadership in Excellence Award, Faculty Leadership Award, and College of Arts & Letters Community Partner Award.
Paul Varg Award
The Paul Varg Award recognizes a College of Arts & Letters faculty member who has challenged students intellectually, maintained a national reputation in their field, provided service to the college, university and community, and is the consummate professional.
This year, there was a tie for this award. The recipients are:
- Jon Frey, Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design
- Nancy Marino, Professor of Spanish, who recently passed away
Frey has been part of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design for 11 years and has a joint appointment with the Department of Romance and Classical Studies. He teaches courses in Western art before the Renaissance, Greek and Roman art and archaeology, and classical mythology. His teaching focuses on the practices and post-classical legacy of Greek and Roman architecture as well as the use of digital technology in archaeology.
Jon’s use of digital technology is recognized nationally and internationally,” said Deborah Feltz, Chair of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, who nominated Frey. “ He has received prestigious grants from the Digital Humanities Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities and has been invited to present on his research in the United States, Australia, and several European countries. His project to develop a digital platform for the dissemination of primary documentation of archaeological research promises to change the way both scholars and the public interact with excavation archives.
“Jon also instills a sense of love and learning and intellectual curiosity in his students outside the classroom. He uses his research projects as a way to provide his students with real-world experiences including digs, archives, and site visits.”
Marino, who passed away on March 11, taught at Michigan State University in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies for 25 years and was known as one of the most effective and skilled professors in that department.
Her teaching included literary and genre studies to historical studies of Spanish kings, queens, and courts. She also was an excellent archival researcher and located and researched manuscripts and works that have substantially increased and deepened the knowledge of Castilian Spain.
“Professor Marino’s scholarly standing and reputation in her field of Golden Age or late Medieval Spain are recognized nationally and internationally,” Department of Romance and Classical Studies Co-Chairs Rocio Quispe-Agnoli and Doug Noverr stated in their nomination. “Since coming to MSU in 1993, she had published five major books, guest edited and contributed to two major scholarly journals, and published 18 articles and book chapters.
“In every detail of each area of her work and contributions, Professor Marino has demonstrated her deep commitment to her students, to the university, and to her scholarly field and established a distinguished career of contributions and impact.”
Marino’s award was received by her husband, Frank.
Innovation and Leadership Award
The Innovation and Leadership Award recognizes a College of Arts & Letters faculty member who utilizes innovative practices in the classroom, finds engaging ways to integrate scholarship and teaching, and provides rich opportunities for experiential learning.
This year’s recipient is Mohammad Khalil, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Director of the Muslim Studies Program, and Adjunct Professor in MSU’s College of Law, is the recipient of this year’s Innovation and Leadership Award.
During his time teaching at Michigan State University, Khalil has had consistent high scores with his students across semesters. He is innovative in the classroom and uses these innovations to create an engaging and interactive classroom environment.
Khalil is an internationally known scholar with research scholarship and publications that are closely tied to his teaching. Further, he is a productive and highly regarded scholar of Islam, with three published books, multiple articles in his field, and more books and articles on the way.
Dr. Khalil exemplifies and personifies the values of the nation’s premier land-grant university,” said Arthur Versluis, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, who nominated Khalil for the award. “He has engaged in multiple kinds of teaching innovation, including his contributions to the multi-institutional Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum (DISC).”
Community Partner Award
The Community Partner Award Recognizes a College of Arts & Letters faculty member who makes distinguished community contributions at the local, state, national, and/or global levels. The award recognizes participation, student mentorship, and overall leadership as well as significant involvement in one or more community engagement activities.
This year’s recipient is Angelika Kraemer, Specialist in the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA).
Angelika Kraemer, Specialist in the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA), is this year’s recipient of the Community Partner Award.
Kraemer has consistently supported the language learning needs of the community, college, and university and has consistently collaborated and provided a number of community engagement programs during her time with CeLTA. Among these programs are the CeLTA Language School (CLS), a partnership with the John R. King Academic & Performing Arts Academy (JRK) that provides monthly culture events, and the Okemos World Languages (OWL) Partnership with the College of Education Teacher Preparation Program, just to name a few ways Kraemer has helped support the community, Michigan State University, and the College of Arts & Letters.
Dr. Kraemer’s care in her leadership goes above and beyond as she sets a positive example of what true leadership looks like,” the nomination letter stated, which was submitted by Associate Professors Senta Goertler and Anne Violin-Wigent and Assistant Professor Dustin De Felice. “The CeLTA Language School would have never been possible without her vision, connections, and leadership and would have never reached such esteemed status without her tireless efforts. Dr. Kraemer is synonymous with advocacy for and support of world language in the state of Michigan. There is no other educator in the state who so broadly and intensely is involved in furthering language and culture education than Dr. Kraemer.”
Fixed-Term Faculty and Academic Specialist Leadership in Excellence Award
New to the college, this award recognizes individuals who show leadership excellence and who make a substantive impact in their area, marking the difference between a good program and an excellent one. Recipients provide the hard work and leadership that fosters excellence, encourages others on their own path to intellectual leadership, and enhances diversity across the college.
The award was presented to two individuals:
- Kathryn McEwen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages
- Karen Kangas-Preston, Senior Specialist and Instructor of Costume Design and Technology in the Department of Theatre
McEwen’s research is focused on 18th to 21st century German-language literature and culture with an emphasis on questions concerning gender, embodiment, and alternative forms of cultural production.
“Professor McEwen’s combination of excellent teaching and active research and service has been reflected in her success in securing internal grants to work on projects, including the ‘Go Green’ team that received Humanities without Walls and German Embassy funding,” her nomination letter stated, which was submitted by Jason Merrill, Chair of the Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages; Charlene Polio, Associate Chair of the Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages; Ellen Moll, Academic Specialist; and Kacey Bengel, MSU alumna.
Kangas-Preston is deeply involved in multiple service roles, which include Head of Design, Department of Theatre Advisory Committee member, CAC representative (currently co-chair), and Friends of Theatre Board Member and Secretary, on top of being an outstanding educator and mentor.
“She has been an amazing resource in assisting AAHD, WRAC, and CAL as a whole in writing bylaws and policies that recognize academic specialists. She has also served as a mentor and reviewer in the reappointment and promotion of other academic specialists throughout the college,” the nomination letter stated, which was submitted by Kirk Domer, Chairperson of the Department of Theatre, Professor Rob Roznowski, Associate Professor Ann Folino White, Assistant Professor Jason Painter-Price, and Academic Specialist Angie Wendelberger.
Faculty Leadership Award
Created through gifts to the College, this award recognizes faculty who go beyond routine tasks, are generous in sharing insights, and gives the hard work and mentorship that creates excellence and vision in programs and departments.
This year’s recipient is Yomaira Figueroa, Assistant Professor in the Department of English.
Figueroa works on 20th century U.S. Latinx Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and Afro-Hispanic literature and culture. She takes a holistic approach to the college’s teaching mission, collective research profile, service responsibilities, and outreach orientation. Through her integrated approach to professional life, Figueroa actively “gives voice to a sense of a shared future,” which is clear with her creation of the college-wide Womxn of Color Initiative (WOCI).
Dr. Figueroa is rapidly gaining rock-star status nationally and internationally for her scholarship,” said Cara Cilano, Chair of the Department of English, who nominated Figueroa. “This year, she is on a Ford Foundation Fellowship, and, in order to accept this honor, she had to decline a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Her approach to her professional life is holistic as much as it is interdisciplinary. Such impulses offer new ways for the department to conceptualize research, teaching, and service/outreach.”
College of Arts & Letters Community Partner Award
For current College of Arts & Letters students, this award recognizes community contributions at the local, state, national, and/or global events.
Duda is a research assistant and was awarded the CAL Undergraduate Research Initiative for his work with the Fourth Wall, a company that provides theatre workshops for students with autism. He recently wrote a musical, titled Farm!’ A Musical Experience, and a workshop version of this production was performed with students with ASD. He has accompanied the department to New York City to visit theatre companies to learn more about the productions they produce for students on the autism spectrum.
I cannot say enough about Ryan as a student, actor, teaching artist, collaborator, and human being,” said Dionne O’Dell, Specialist in the Department of Theatre, who nominated Duda. “He is talented, dedicated, intelligent, and a kind person that is a shining light for the college. He is using his craft to continue to engage with the community to teach younger students how the power of the arts can change lives.”