2012 Commencement Awards Showcase SUU's Best

Published: April 20, 2012 | Author: Jennifer Burt | Read Time: 3 minutes

As another academic season comes to a close, Southern Utah University looks back on the year’s most outstanding scholars and contributors and honors them with awards that are among the institution’s most prestigious.

This year’s Outstanding Educator award was given to Dr. Joe Baker, professor of economics, for his extraordinary contribution to SUU’s School of Business. Baker is renowned for his engaging style of teaching, along with his commitment to working with students one-on-one.

“Dr. Baker is innovative and continually works to improve his teaching,” said Kim Craft, chair of the Department of Economics and Finance. “He truly is an outstanding educator and is very much deserving of this award.”

Dr. David Berri, professor of economics, was the recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Scholar Award. Berri was recognized for his impressive catalogue of scholarly publications and his unfailing commitment to the study of economics. A frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and new member of the writing team at Freakonomics.com, Dr. Berri is a well-known and widely published asset to SUU.

Three faculty members were selected to receive the 2012 Distinguished Educator Awards as well.

Betsy Bancroft, assistant professor of biology, is an effective and conscientious instructor who challenges students rigorously but also makes the learning process fun and interesting.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Randle Hart was also honored as a Distinguished Educator. Though also a rigorous teacher, Hart receives high marks from his students for his thoughtful discussions and concern for each student. Hart has an impressive scholarship and publishing record.

Lee Wood, associate professor of agriculture, was recognized as a Distinguished Educator for his unwavering commitment to enhancing the learning experience of his students. Wood was instrumental in the addition of an Equine minor to SUU’s curriculum.

On the staff side of SUU's employee base, Paula Mitchell, the familiar face of SUU’s special collections, received the Distinguished Staff Service Award. Mitchell was recognized for her outstanding service to students and the community as the university’s archivist. She was also commended for her excellent work in directing the Shakespeare First Folio exhibit last summer.

Also recognized for Distinguished Staff Service was Ross Murdock, member of the grounds and greenhouse staff. Ross was lauded for his tireless efforts in not only keeping campus vibrant and beautiful but for engaging faculty and students in the plant-growing process.

In the category of Outstanding Staff Employee, Tiger Funk and Linda Liebhardt were awarded top honors.

As director of Utility Services and Energy Management, Funk is responsible for the maintenance of each and every building on campus. He was selected for his excellent leadership skills and for helping SUU become more energy efficient.

Linda Liebhardt heads the Sherratt Library’s Circulation Department and was recognized not only for her leadership in that role but for her efforts as Staff Association Legislative Liaison to the Utah Higher Education Staff Association. Liebhardt is also a champion of SUU’s Women’s Week.

Our congratulations to these outstanding Thunderbirds and our thanks to all of SUU's faculty and staff for all their hard work this 2011-12 school year.

These awards will be officially conferred during the 2012 University Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 4, at Noon in the Centrum arena.

Each year, nominations for outstanding SUU faculty and staff members are collected. Various faculty committees sort through the nominees, seeking to determine those most deserving of the honor.

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