Faculty & Staff Award Recipients

Arlan Norman Award for Excellence in Student Mentoring

Photo of Alejandro Acevedo-GutierrezAlejandro Acevedo-Gutierrez - Biology

A native of Mexico, Alejandro is interested in the interaction between marine mammals and their environment, in the teaching of science, particularly to groups underrepresented in the sciences, and in helping future scientists, teachers or conservationists achieve their goals.  At Western, he has mentored 15 graduate and 32 undergraduate students, and supervised 128 undergraduates.  He was featured in the Academy Award nominated IMAX film “Dolphins,” named MOSI Hispanic Scientist of the Year in 2001, and Science Spectrum Trailblazer, Top Minority in Science in 2005.

Outstanding Scholarship Award

Photo of Andy BunnAndy Bunn - Environmental Sciences

Andy Bunn is a climate scientist who focuses on changes to arctic carbon cycling and paleoclimatology. He has worked extensively in the Russian Far East and in mountains systems around the world.  The link between climate change and human use of energy led him to establish Western’s Institute for Energy Studies in 2012. However, he found that administration didn’t suit him and has returned to the regular faculty to focus on research and teaching. He holds a B.S. from the Evergreen State College, a Master’s of Environmental Management from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Montana State University. He did post-doctoral research at the Woods Hole Research Center before coming to Western in 2006. He has published dozens of scientific papers and is an enthusiastic communicator of science giving public talks on climate and energy around the region.

Outstanding Faculty Leadership Award

Photo of Karen Rohrbauck StoutKaren Rohrbauck Stout - Leadership Studies & Karen W. Morse Institute for Leadership

Karen Rohrbauck Stout received her BA from the University of Puget Sound, her M.A. from The University of Montana, and her Ph.D. from the University of Utah.

She joined the Communication Studies department at Western in 2000. Through a variety of service, volunteer, and committee positions on campus and off, she has developed a lengthy list of leadership experiences. Most notably, she served as the President of the Northwest Communication Association in 2008 (which is a small regional conference devoted to fostering undergraduate research), two consecutive terms as the President of the Faculty Senate (after many years of service as a Senator and Secretary to the Executive Council), and 6 years on the Executive Board for the United Faculty of Western Washington. In 2014 she became the director of the Karen W. Morse Institute for Leadership and the Bowman Distinguished Professor of Leadership. In this role, she advises students in the Leadership Studies minor, teaches GUR classes on leadership, supervises a small group of adjunct Leadership Studies faculty, and provides leadership related programming for the campus and community. Her most important leadership role at Western is to foster students’ personal development so that they can become the leaders they want in order to effect the social change most important to them.

Stout has received a career achievement award for her service to the Northwest Communication Association and teaching awards from the International Communication Association and the National Society of Leadership and Success among other honors. 

Carl H. Simpson Bridging Award

Photo of Jessica CohenJessica S. Cohen - Mathematics

Jessica Cohen joined Western’s Mathematics Department in 2010 as a specialist in mathematics education. She teaches courses for preservice teachers and traditional mathematics courses. 

Her scholarship focuses on professional development of preservice and inservice teachers and higher education faculty, with an emphasis on incorporating the same research-based effective teaching practices across all grade levels. Jessica strives to connect teacher education, the STEM disciplines, and the regional K-12 community in her work.

During her time at Western, Jessica has had the opportunity to partner with faculty in her own department, the College of Science and Engineering, Woodring College of Education, and with curriculum directors and math coaches in regional public schools on a number of projects.  These include the Middle School Math Partnership, professional development for middle school math teachers in Whatcom and Skagit counties; Change at the CORE, professional development for CSE faculty; an AFT Innovation project joining preservice teachers and their mentor teachers for common professional development experiences; and Advancing Equity and Excellence in Science, professional development for CSE faculty with a focus on fostering equitable classrooms. Jessica is grateful for the many opportunities to connect across campus and with the community, and for the growth this inspires in her own practice, both as a teacher and as a facilitator.

Jessica received her PhD in Mathematics from Oregon State University.  She and her husband, a middle school teacher, are parents to two boys, ages six and three.

Excellence in Teaching Award

Photo of James HelfieldJames Helfield - Environmental Sciences

Jim joined Western’s faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor of terrestrial and aquatic ecology in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Huxley College. His research focuses on rivers and salmon. He earned his Ph.D. in forest ecology at the University of Washington. He also holds an M.Sc. in physical geography from the University of Toronto and a B.A. in English literature from Duke University. Jim’s approach to teaching emphasizes the development of critical thinking and clear communication, as well as an enthusiasm for ecology and learning in general. His most valuable teaching skill is being unafraid to look foolish in front of a room full of people.

Paul J. Olscamp Research Award

Photo of Kate McLeanKate McLean - Psychology

Kate McLean trained in developmental and personality psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she earned her Ph.D. in 2004.  Her research focuses on adolescent and emerging adult identity development.  She holds grants from the National Science Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation, serves on the governing council for the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood, is an associate editor for the Journal Personality and Social Psychology: PPID, and is the director of the Center for Cross-Cultural Research at WWU.

Ronald Kleinknecht Excellence in Teaching Award

Photo of Yu LeiYu Lei - Modern and Classical Languages

Yu earned her Ph.D. in linguistics and applied linguistics from Beijing Language and Culture University in 2015. Her research focuses on Chinese linguistics and Chinese pedagogic grammar. She teaches Chinese language classes in all levels. She sees herself as a coach guiding students to study, and to practice, and students are the center of learning. She uses Chinese language and culture as a window to help students see the common and difference between cultures, so students are more open-minded and empathetic to others with diverse backgrounds.

Her students praise her for caring deeply about both their academic progress and their health and well-being both inside and outside the classroom.

President’s Exceptional Effort Awards

Photo of the 2019 President’s Exceptional Effort Award recipients: Andrea Rodger, Anne Marie Theiler, Christy Jensen, Dana Weigel, Tonya Alexander, Angie Vandenhaak, Gary Malick, Leti RomoTonya Alexander, Christy Jensen, Gary Malick, Andrea Rodger, Leti Romo, Anne Marie Theiler, Angie Vandenhaak, Dana Weigel - College of Science & Engineering, Financial Aid, ATUS, Business Services, Student Activities, Counseling Center, University Advancement, Budget Office


Andrea Rodger, Business Services

Through Andrea’s leadership, the new Contract Management Module software was successfully implemented, and in less than a year, is an invaluable tool across campus. Andrea’s positive demeanor and “can-do” attitude is infectious.  She is exactly what the Procurement/Contracts office needed to bring all the new processes and personnel together to function at their very highest level.  The bottom line is that Andrea is a fantastic employee, highly focused on both the success of the department and its contribution to the university as a whole.

Anne Marie Theiler, Counseling Center

Anne Marie Theiler, M.S., LMHC, has served in two of three management positions for the Counseling Center throughout this academic year, including Interim Director and Assistant Director of Clinical Operations.  Each of these positions require a significant amount of expertise, interpersonal skills, organization, and motivation.  During this time, Anne Marie has also been involved in national searches for the WWU Counseling Center Director and the WWU Executive Director for Counseling, Health and Wellness. Along with the responsibility of these two significant management positions, her focus has been on continuing to offer the best service possible to Western students.

Christy Jensen, Financial Aid

Christy demonstrates the best of Western and since her arrival, she has wasted no time in impacting process improvement in the Student Business Office.  She has maintained and vastly improved systems and related processes associated with the delivery of financial aid to Western students. Her colleagues often comment on how they don’t know how she juggles the many responsibilities and requests that come her way.  She courageously asks “why” to understand business practices and to encourage others to think strategically about the work we do.

Dana Weigel, Budget Office

During her first six months, Dana worked to redesign the budget for University Relations and Marketing. She also led the submission of the biennial budget request to the State, and took the role of the Interim Business and Financial Affairs Budget Officer.  After her first year writing the fiscal notes for Western during the legislative session, Dana led the collaboration of the six higher education institutions to support consistent interpretation of Legislative activity.  She is a pleasure to work with, is patient, and always willing to help others complete a task or project.

Tonya Alexander, College of Science & Engineering

Initiative is one of Tonya’s principal core strengths.  She has a sound understanding of college operations and has constructed new methodologies and processes to adapt systems for higher functionality. She is a natural leader, and a fundamental part of the college personnel structure, providing a unique combination of genuine caring and structured leadership, that gives people a sense of family.  Tonya brings an infectious sense of humor and positive outlook that provides a sound foundation for high standards.

Angie Vandenhaak, University Advancement

Angie’s 18 years in University Advancement has consistently resulted in innovative and outstanding achievement.  In her current role, Angie has reworked the structure, focus, and foundational elements of the annual giving program, as well as the Alumni Association membership program to develop a best-in-class organization.  She created an annual giving pipeline program, and implemented two successful programs: Western Give Day and Viking Funder, as well as brought back the Employee Giving Campaign, while identifying new software programs and technology to support these efforts.                                            

Gary Malick, ATUS

With over 24 years of service, Gary has been a positive influence at Western.  He has taken strategic leadership in the design, selection, availability, and reliability of audiovisual technology in classrooms and TV studios.  Gary and his team have begun the process of converting classrooms from old analog equipment to contemporary digital standards, including replacing more than 50 projectors. In addition to the outstanding support of classroom AV technology, Gary also oversees the ATUS equipment loan pool.

Leti Romo, Student Activities

Leti has creatively engaged in the restructure of the previously known "AS Resource & Outreach Programs" into the new "AS Student Advocacy & Identity Resource Center."  She encourages the center’s staff to think critically about the work being done, and the opportunities to make an even greater impact.  In addition, she has also been instrumental in bringing to fruition the development and daily operations of Western’s Hub of Living Essentials (WHOLE), which includes the Clothing Closet, Food Pantry, and personal products.  She advocates for student representation, and socially just and equitable practices in the AS to ensure inclusivity.

Outstanding Classified Staff Award

Photo of Clarissa MansfieldClarissa Mansfield - Western Libraries

Clarissa Mansfield began working at Western Libraries in 2006, and she became the Libraries’ Communications Manager in 2013. In this role, she leads, coordinates, and manages the communication and marketing needs of all units of Western Libraries. Her work has elevated the Libraries’ communications and publicity efforts to unprecedented levels. Her relationships with her colleagues and the opportunities she has to collaborate with so many dedicated students, staff, and faculty at Western are among her favorite aspects of the work she does.

Clarissa is an advocate for students and cares deeply about their experience at Western. She serves on the Libraries’ Social Justice Advisory Team, a group dedicated to advancing social justice in the library for all stakeholders. She has also been a leader among her classified colleagues, pursuing equity in the Libraries, as well as emphasizing the critical role of classified employees university-wide.  Clarissa is courageous in pursuit of improving the workplace, and is unafraid to speak up and challenge workplace inequity.  

Clarissa is a graduate of Western, receiving her B.A. in 2001 in both Liberal Studies (now known as “Global Humanities and Religions”), and in English. She also received her M.Ed. in Environmental Education from Western’s Huxley College of the Environment in 2014, with her master’s project concentration on exploring the role of academic libraries in environmental education.

Philip E. Sharpe, Jr. Community Engagement Award

Photo of June Fraser ThistleJune Fraser Thistle - Residence Life

June Fraser Thistle has worked at Western since emigrating from Canada in 2003 and is currently the Office Manager for Residence Life.  She has been an active volunteer as an advocate for survivors at Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS) in Bellingham since 2011 and in 2014, she helped sew sock monkeys, here at WWU, for children under the care of Child Protective Services.  From that initial project, she founded a non-profit, The Bellingham Sock Monkey Project where volunteers from 8 states and 3 Canadian provinces contribute to make these comforting creatures for children at Skookum Kids, a local non-profit that provides shelter for children entering the foster care system because of abuse or neglect.  Her nominator for this award wrote, “June has told many stories of stressed and alienated children who open up to her gentle and thoughtful interaction. Co-volunteers marvel at her ability to quickly find and nurture interests and talents in children and help them see a bright future for themselves. More than one child has promised that they’ll never forget her.” Additionally, she established – and actively fundraisers for – the Western Gap Scholarship to assist WWU students in financial crisis, awarded to a gamut of students ranging from homeless or foster youth to moderate-income students, all of whom have critical financial need that, left unmet, would force them to drop out. She invites all WWU employees to join her in helping struggling students earn their degree.

Peter J. Elich Excellence in Teaching Award

Photo of Lina DahlbergLina Dahlberg - Biology

Lina Dahlberg is an educator, mentor, and scientist. She teaches courses in cellular, molecular, and neurobiology, and she studies the impact of research experiences on students’ habits of mind in laboratory courses. She gained experience as an educator through the National Institutes of Health’s TEACRS program at Tufts University, which first introduced her to principles of student-centered learning. Lina joined Western’s biology faculty in 2013 and has used her experiences to help drive pedagogical changes at WWU. Lina uses group work and iterative assessments to help students apply scientific knowledge and gain experience in metacognition; she addresses students’ preconceptions and personal experiences as a way to create an inclusive learning climate. In addition to her work with students, Lina is part of a team that helps educate faculty and staff on issues of equity and inclusion in STEM. She received her B.S. in biology from Haverford College and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Washington.

Professional Staff Award for Excellence

Photo of Catherine ShornickCatherine Shornick - CHSS

Catherine started in the College of Arts and Sciences the day ground was broken for the Communications Building in 2002, and later assisted as CAS split into the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Sciences and Technology (now Science and Engineering). Catherine became the CHSS Assistant to the Dean and Operations Manager in 2010 after working closely with her predecessor Esther Harris. During her time in the college Catherine worked with five different deans (four in the last six years); as well, she completed her degree in Creative Writing and Communication Studies as an Outstanding Graduate and Presidential Scholar.

She effectively helped navigate the college through implementation of the first and subsequent versions of the faculty bargaining agreement, budgetary ups and downs, new fiscal and travel systems, and shifts in pressures and trends in higher education. Throughout, Catherine has advocated for staff, always vigilant against increased workloads as new policies and procedures were implemented. As a classified staff member, she served on the union bargaining team, and as professional staff she served on the PSO Executive Committee for several years, continuing her efforts toward broad inclusion and equal footing for all Western staff members. Catherine looks forward to retiring in October, 2019.

Photo of Tim McLaughlinTim McLaughlin - Enterprise Infrastructure Services

Tim is an Automation Engineer for Enterprise Infrastructure Services, where he has worked since 2001. Over that time, his responsibilities have ranged from installing and updating hardware and operating systems, to helping WWU enter the world of server virtualization, to working with containerized and cloud applications.  Tim’s recent work includes implementing an application stack for monitoring important metrics from a wide variety of systems, applications, and processes.  As the use of technology in education continues to get more and more pervasive, the need for better metrics also grows.  This project, using standard tools like Grafana and Prometheus, allows trends and issues to be more visible. Better visibility allows the team to address those issues and to prevent future occurrences.

Tim enjoys tackling new challenges and figuring out how to utilize tools and code to enable his small team to do big things.  He feels privileged to work with a very intelligent group people and with leadership that allows the team to explore options for solving problems. Tim earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Western in 1996.  When he’s not at work, he enjoys reading, community theatre, and playing table games with his wife and their two sons.

Team Recognition Award

Group photo of the MABEL TeamThe MABEL Team - Multi-department

The MABEL Team is comprised of representatives from Western Libraries, WebTech, Western Marketing & Communication, and Video Services. This team is responsible for the creation of the University’s new centralized, open source, online repository for digital assets. MABEL, which stands for Multimedia Archives Based Electronic Library, is a database of collections that enable the discovery, sharing, and preservation of Western's digital assets, including photos, videos, oral histories, and much more from a central location.  MABEL is the direct result of the work conducted by the members of the MABEL Team, comprising a cross-campus partnership involving content creators, stewards and stakeholders. This new central platform -- the first of its kind at the university -- is a transformative step forward in Western’s efforts to disseminate and preserve digital content.

In alignment with Western’s strategic goals, numerous collections housed in MABEL illuminate the history of the university and the Pacific Northwest, and thereby advance a deeper understanding of and engagement with place and regional history. Housed in an open source software system (i.e., software that is freely available to all people for use and innovation), MABEL bypasses the inequities perpetuated by expensive, licensed software systems and related content, which restrict access to those who can afford to pay. Instead, MABEL is an affordable tool for the university, and its content is freely discoverable to users worldwide.


David Bass, Western Libraries; Tamara Belts, Western Libraries; Max Bronsema, WebTech; Derek Bryson, University Communications & Marketing; Chris Casquilho, College of Fine & Performing Arts; Jon Dillon, Western Libraries; Elizabeth Joffrion, Western Libraries; Tony Kurtz, Western Libraries; Clarissa Mansfield, Western Libraries; Rebecca Marrall, Western Libraries; Stephanie Mason, WebTech; Tim McLaughlin, Enterprise Infrastructure Services; Justene Merriman, College of Fine & Performing Arts; Casey Mullin, Western Libraries; Nigel Packer, WebTech; Kris Rex, Western Libraries; Ruth Steele, Western Libraries; Jesse Sturgis, Outreach and Continuing Education, Steve Swan, Former VP, University Relations (Retired)


Admissions CRM Implementation Team, Banner 9 Admin Pages Upgrade Project, External Recruitment Marketing Team, Forest School Curriculum Development Team, Global Pathway Program, Make Waves Design System Team, President's Advisory Committee on Institutional Resource Modeling, Procurement and Contracts Team, Social Justice Equity Committee, Writing in Accounting, WWU Food Security Network

Equity & Inclusion Achievement Award

Glenn T. Tsunokai - Sociology

Glenn Tsunokai joined Western's Sociology Department in 2003 as a specialist in race and ethnic relations and stratification and inequality. Since his arrival, approximately 7,218 undergraduates have taken his introduction level GUR race and ethnicity course.  In this class, students are provided with the knowledge and skills to become culturally competent citizens in an increasingly diverse society. Students enrolled in his stratification course can develop meaningful relations with people from various cultural and socio-economic backgrounds via service learning activities. Glenn encourages his students to develop a deeper understanding of social issues through research.

Over the past 16 years, he has sponsored 148 senior theses and independent studies that have focused on such issues as cultural appropriation, prejudice and discrimination, and media (mis)representation. Glenn has also invited many students to work with him on his own research projects that deal with interracial relationships. He has co-published five articles with eight undergraduate students. While at Western, Glenn has created and co-facilitated diversity and equity workshops, has served on various university committees that focus on diversity related issues, and he continues to serve as an (in)formal mentor/advisor to students from underrepresented backgrounds. Glenn received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Riverside.

Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award

Photo of Peter HaugPeter Haug - Decision Sciences

Peter is the program director of the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management program in the College of Business and Economics. He received a B.A. and M.A. in military history, an MBA from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Philosophy in business studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and his Ph.D. in operations management from the University of Washington. Peter manages the Manufacturing and Operations Management Advisory Board that designed and sustains the MSCM degree, whose motto is “industry partnered education.” He has served as the faculty sponsor of the student chapter of APICS for over 25 years. He is passionate about mentoring and engaging his students with alumni and industry professionals through summer internships, company projects, facility tours, and guest speaker sessions and dinners. His research focuses on empirical and case studies in supply chain management, and his overseas teaching and travels have enhanced his ability to integrate global perspectives in his pedagogical philosophy and efforts. He has also been a Fulbright Scholar, teaching in China and India, and a visiting professor in Scotland and Iceland.