College of Arts & Letters faculty and students were recognized for their outstanding achievements in leadership, teaching, innovation, and community engagement at the College of Arts & Letters Alumni Board Awards ceremony on March 30 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.
Hosted by the College of Arts & Letters Alumni Board, three different awards were presented at the event, including the Paul Varg Award, Innovation and Leadership Award, and Community Partner Award. The 2019 recipients of these awards were:
Paul Varg Award
Kirk Domer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre, is an advocate and leader for the arts across MSU and serves as a mentor to faculty and is a resource for students.
“His service to the Department of Theatre as chairperson is expected, but it is his volunteerism and willingness to assist beyond his regular chairperson duties that makes him an extraordinary candidate,” said Rob Roznowski, Professor and Head of Acting and Directing in the Department of Theatre, who nominated Domer for the award. “Professor Domer is the conduit for most of the outreach and educational efforts of the Department of Theatre.
“As an educator, Professor Domer recognizes the deficiencies in each student’s education and solves it in unique and compelling ways. His ability to target the needs of each student has broadened and expanded their horizons as learner, practitioner, and for some, academicians.”
Academic Specialist Dionne O’Dell also supported Domer’s nomination. She wrote: “I have relied on Kirk’s expertise in advising, teaching, and leadership. He is a valued mentor to the entire faculty and a tremendous resource to the students in the Arts and Cultural Management Program. Kirk has demonstrated great leadership not only in his guidance, but in his ability to extract key ideas and synthesize the expertise of many voices in the room.”
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.
Innovation and Leadership Award
April Baker-Bell, Assistant Professor in the Department of English and the African American and African Studies Program, describes teaching as space where learning joins hands with equity and justice, theory meets practice, and awareness leads to change.
“Dr. Baker-Bell promoted the English Education program by strengthened relationships and partnerships with communities and schools in Michigan; developed and provided prospective teachers in the English Education program with authentic teaching and learning experiences that prepared them to dismantle racism and systemic injustices in and through their curricula, instruction, and practice. She provided support, professional development opportunities, and teaching resources to in-service teachers in Michigan; and used the expertise of the English Education faculty to transform local English Language Arts classrooms,” said Cara Cilano, Professor and Chair of the Department of English, who nominated Baker-Bell for the award.
“Dr. Baker-Bell is quickly rising to national attention for her excellence as a researcher and educator.”
Baker-Bell’s research focuses on language literacy and race at the intersections of theory, research, and practice. Her language and literacy work earned her the 2018 Language and Social Processes (LSP) Early Career Scholar Award, an international award presented to one individual each year by the LSP special interest group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).
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 beyond the classroom.
Community Partner Award
Madelyn Eischer is a freshman Honors College student double majoring in Apparel and Textile Design and Genomics/Molecular Genetics. She has a strong commitment to a broad honors curriculum and has maintained a 4.0 GPA.
“Maddy is often asking thoughtful questions in class, pushing us farther with what she has learned and researched about educational equality,” said Bess German, Assistant Dean of the Honors College, who nominated Eischer for the award.
Besides performing well in the classroom and in her studies, Eischer also takes time to give back to the community by volunteering with the Capital Area District Library. During her first semester at MSU, she provided more than 25 hours of homework assistance to younger students from Lansing schools.
“Maddy’s drive for learning coupled with her service focus are key building blocks for a community-engaged learner,” German said. “Whether making a difference in the organizations she is part of, in class or at the Capital Area District Library, Maddy is a leader among leaders.”
The Community Partner Award is for current College of Arts & Letters students in recognition of community contributions at the local, state, national, and/or global level.