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College of Education > News and Publications > News: April - June 2011 > 2011 Outstanding Faculty, Staff, and Students Honored

2011 Outstanding Faculty, Staff, and Students Honored

Eight members of Penn State's College of Education have been recognized for their achievements.

by Joe Savrock (May 2011)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The College of Education recently honored the recipients of its 2011 Faculty, Staff, and Student Awards. Eight members of the College were recognized for their achievements at a May 4 reception hosted by Dean David Monk at the Nittany Lion Inn.

The following award winners were selected based on nomination letters as well as their own dedication and service to the College and community:


  • Undergraduate Student Leadership & Service Award - Lauren Saftlas
  • Graduate Student Recognition Award - David Knight
  • Outstanding Staff Awards - Joseph Bigler and Kelly McClure
  • Climate Enhancement Award - Edgar Farmer
  • Outstanding Researcher Award - Esther Prins
  • Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award - Richard Walter
  • Career Achievement Award - Michael G. Moore


Undergraduate Student Leadership & Service Award

aa-no-photoavailableLauren Saftlas is the 2011 recipient of the Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award. This award recognizes undergraduate student leaders who enhance the purpose of the College, promote leadership and service, and foster personal and professional development of peers.

Saftlas is a senior majoring in the secondary education English with a communications option. She has been a student teacher at Altoona Area Junior High School since September 2010. She has made the Dean’s List every semester and is a member of the National Scholars Honor Society.

Saftlas’ involvement in collegiate activities is evident through her membership in the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association and her full involvement in THON, Penn State’s Dance Marathon.

Wanda Pletcher, an Altoona Area Junior High School mentor, said, “Lauren truly cares about the students and strives to do everything she can to help them succeed. Lauren works with many challenging students at Altoona Area Junior High School and continues to push these students. She has chosen a challenging student for her Individual Learner Project and is doing her best to make a difference in his life.”

Graduate Student Recognition Award

David Knight HeadshotDavid Knight is winner of this year’s Graduate Student Recognition Award. This award honors a graduate student for outstanding scholarship, research, dedication to education, and the promise of professional excellence.

Knight is a graduate research assistant for professor and senior scientist Lisa Lattuca. He has served for the past 18 months as a member of a large team conducting two related studies of engineering education funded by the National Science Foundation for $3 million. In his first year, he co-authored a conference paper that won the 2010 Best Paper Award from the Educational Research Methods Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the premier educational research organization in the field. This year he is a co-author of four conference papers accepted and now in preparation for the annual meeting of ASEE.

Knight has also conducted two of his own analyses on the topic of curricular and pedagogical influences on interdisciplinary skills among engineering undergraduates. He is currently serving as the managing editor of Higher Education in Review, a student-edited journal. He is president of the Higher Education Student Association and is a member of the EPS Student Leadership Committee.

Stephanie Knight, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, School Psychology, and Special Education, said, “After more than two decades of work with doctoral students, I would rank David in the top 1% of students at his level. His outstanding analytical, research, and writing abilities, combined with the personal qualities of motivation, persistence, and enthusiasm, distinguish him and are deserving of recognition. I have no doubt that as a result of these abilities and personal characteristics, David will become a prolific and admired scholar and academic leader of the future.”


Outstanding Staff Awards

Bigler-Joe-smlJoseph Bigler and Kelly McClure are both winners of 2011 Outstanding Staff Awards. These awards honor staff members who contribute in significant ways to the quality of life within the College. Nominees must have at least five years of full-time employment with the College of Education.

Joseph Bigler, Web content administrator, manages the hardware and programming that makes the College of Education’s Web site possible. He also supports a number of other Web sites and databases in the College as programmer and server administrator. Bigler programs other sites for faculty within the College and manages various online forms and associated e-commerce sites.

Suzanne Wayne, associate director of communications for the College of Education, says, “The work Joe performs for the College is so often overlooked because the products he builds are designed to work seamlessly. So it’s also easy to underestimate the effort and commitment he has put into making our collective work experience smoother. The reality is that if you have looked someone up in the online directory or have visited our site for information--or have registered for the Spikes baseball game, the annual educational leadership luncheon, the recent workforce education symposium, or Cycle-thon--then you have used a Web application that Joe has programmed.”


Kelly McClureKelly McClure joined the College of Education as an administrative support coordinator in June 1997. In her position, she is directly involved with all curricular changes for the College and with the preparation and critical reporting for accreditation reviews at the state and national levels. In addition, she works closely with the associate dean on coordinating all details for the commencement exercises and SRTE processing for the College.

McClure also assists with the submission of federal and state reports. This type of reporting requires considerable effort: pulling data from various sources, working with faculty and staff across units to collect necessary information, and inputting the relevant information into prescribed and sometimes tedious online reporting systems.

Jacqueline Edmondson, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies, says, “Kelly works tirelessly behind the scenes in so many ways to ensure quality and excellence in a number of key areas of the College of Education’s operations--and without her work, many of our programs would not be recognized at national and state levels. Over this past year in particular, Kelly has gone above and beyond the call of duty in a number of areas.”


Climate Enhancement Award

farmer_edgar_cp.jpgEdgar Farmer is the recipient of the Climate Enhancement Award, which recognizes contributions to the pursuit of the College's diversity agenda. Farmer, professor of workforce education and development, is the immediate past department head of Learning and Performance Systems. During the 2003 school year, he served as an administrative fellow to the vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. He also served as the Penn State site director for the National Research and Dissemination Centers on Career and Technical Education from December 1999 to August 2002. From July 1997 to June 1999, he served as professor-in-charge of graduate programs for masters and doctoral degrees in the Workforce Education and Development program.

Spencer Niles, professor and department head of Counselor Education, Counseling Psychology, and Rehabilitation Services, said, “Dr. Farmer has long been a clear, strong, and sensitive voice for supporting diversity within our college community. He effectively engages others in constructive discussions that serve to raise the consciousness of those working in the College so that faculty, students, and staff are able to engage in honest dialogue about diversity topics.

"In his role as the co-chair of the first Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC), Dr. Farmer helped develop and form this committee as it set out to meet its charge and develop its mission. Dr. Farmer’s influence helped advance the DCEC’s mission to support and enhance diversity. Under Dr. Farmer’s leadership, the DCEC developed and delivered activities that fostered respectful discussions of diverse perspectives and viewpoints. His work set the stage for future successes of the DCEC. Beyond his service as DCEC co-chair, Dr. Farmer consistently demonstrates that he is strongly committed to the ‘ongoing development of a welcoming environment in which all members of our community have opportunities to thrive personally and professionally.’”


Outstanding Researcher Award

prins_sml.jpgEsther Prins has earned this year's Outstanding Researcher Award, which recognizes faculty members for exemplary performance in the conduct of research.

Prins, an assistant professor in Penn State’s Adult Education Program since 2005, previously served on the faculty at the University of California-Davis and at Washington State University’s Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology. In 2003, Esther received her Ph.D. in adult education at Cornell University. She has been honored with many scholarships and awards. Her most recent was the Imogene Okes Award for Outstanding Research, given by the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education.

Suet-ling Pong, professor of education, sociology, and demography, said, “As a junior faculty, Dr. Prins’ research productivity is impressive. Since her graduation from Cornell University in 2003, she has published more than 20 articles. Not only is Dr. Prins a productive researcher in terms of quantity, her research is of very high quality. It is evidenced by the top journals in which her work appears, the prestigious award she received, as well as the external grants she has won.”


Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award

walter_cp.jpgRichard A. Walter has been named recipient of the Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award. This award was made possible by Joan and David Cotterill to recognize senior faculty or staff for exemplary performance and leadership efforts. The award includes resources for professionally related activities, including participation in conferences, seminars, and sabbaticals.

Walter, associate professor of workforce education and development in the Department of Learning and Performance Systems, is director of the Professional Personnel Development Center for Career and Technical Education. The mission of the Center, as well as Walter’s research, are focused on enhancing the teaching-learning continuum as is occurs in secondary and postsecondary career and technical education.

Prior to joining Penn State’s faculty in 1993, Walter worked for the Department of Vocational-Technical Education at the State University of New York Oswego as coordinator of the Occupational Competency Assessment and Student Teaching programs, as well as Off-Campus Programming and Services. He has also been an instructor of carpentry, a coordinator of Capstone and Diversified Cooperative Education programs, and a carpenter.

David H. Monk, dean of the College, said, “Rich Walter has led the Professional Personnel Development Center with great distinction and has opened the door on teaching careers for countless numbers of men and women in career and technical education. The high quality of life we enjoy in Pennsylvania is directly related to the quality and dedication of the workforce, and Rich plays a key role in developing this quality. I am very pleased to be able to recognize Rich’s leadership for the field.”


Career Achievement Award

Moore_sml.jpgMichael G. Moore is named the recipient of the Career Achievement Award, which recognizes a tenured faculty member for superior leadership, scholarship, teaching, and research in education.

For 25 years, Moore has been a College of Education faculty member. He is the editor and founder of The American Journal of Distance Education and has authored more than a hundred publications on distance education. He is currently working on the third edition of the Handbook of Distance Education, the third edition of Distance Education: A Systems View, and a new book series on online learning. In November 2010, Moore was awarded the degree Doctoris Honoris Causa by the University of Guadalajara. He was also recently named a distinguished professor of education by Penn State.

Moore has visited and presented in more than 30 countries, and he also has down-to-earth practical knowledge of teaching and training in all technologies and for most client groups. He has designed and teaches graduate courses online for Penn State’s World Campus and has also been a visiting scholar at the World Bank. As a consultant he specializes in setting up, evaluating, and training in large distance education systems as well as program-level needs analysis, course design and development, training the trainers, and evaluation.

Originally trained as an economist and grounded in an early adult education career of seven years in East Africa, Moore maintains a special interest in economic and social development, undertaking research, evaluation, and training projects for the World Bank, the IMF, UNESCO, and several national governments.

Alison A. Carr-Chellman, head of the department of Learning and Performance Systems, said, “In view of all of Michael Moore’s amazing accomplishments, awards, and research productivity on distance education, it represents an amazing career, one very worthy of distinguished recognition.”

Rick Shearer, director of the World Campus Learning Design, said, “Dr. Moore’s achievement in the field of distance education research, related to the theory of transactional distance, stands as one of the seminal theoretical works in the field. Further, his founding of The American Journal of Distance Education and the Center for the Study of Distance Education established Penn State as a leader in distance education practice and research. Dr. Moore is widely recognized nationally and internationally and has received honorary degrees for his work in distance education in developing countries. He was also recently named a senior fellow with the European Distance and e-Learning Network in recognition of his contributions to the field.”