Faculty honored at annual Academic Affairs Awards Ceremony

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May 8, 2017

Grell Winner

From left: Mary Dana Hinton, Amy Grinsteiner, and Michael Hemesath

Spaeth winner

From left: Michael Hemesath, Kristin Colberg, and Mary Dana Hinton

S. Kulzer winner

From left: Mary Dana Hinton, Sucharita Mukherjee, and Michael Hemesath


The 2017 faculty retirees with the presidents.

Two faculty members from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University received an early homework assignment for the 2017-18 school year during the final week of the 2016-17 academic calendar.

Amy Grinsteiner, assistant professor of music, and Kristin Colberg, assistant professor of theology, received the Sister Mary Grell Teacher of Distinction Award and the Robert L. Spaeth Teacher of Distinction Award, respectively, at the Academic Affairs Awards Ceremony May 8.

The winner of each award delivers the Convocation address at CSB and SJU at the beginning of the academic year. Grinsteiner will deliver the address at CSB and Colberg at SJU on Aug. 28 – the first day of the 2017-18 school year.  

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves just a little bit. The Academic Affairs Awards Ceremony, held at the Founders Room, Quadrangle Building, SJU, recognized faculty for years of service, promotions and contributions as department chairs and leaders.

The following awards were presented:

S. Mary Grell Teacher of Distinction Award
Amy Grinsteiner, assistant professor of music

Grell, a noted biologist who was a 1933 graduate of CSB, served students at CSB and SJU for more than 35 years with intelligence, dedication and affection. Her lifetime of teaching at CSB is celebrated through the recognition of a faculty member who represents the best teaching and learning at CSB and SJU. S. Grell served as president of CSB from 1963-68. This award has been presented yearly since 1995.

Grinsteiner, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 2012, is a gifted and creative professor – as a pianist, studio instructor and in the classroom. She is also an active performance judge, performer, workshop convener and participant.

A colleague commented that “Amy is one of those special people who has the gift of both inspiring students and providing the details and structure to turn inspiration into accomplishment.”

One student, a non-music major, said it would be hard to imagine a liberal arts education without Grinsteiner’s instruction.

“It has proved one of my most difficult and valuable experiences at Saint John’s,” the student said.

Robert L. Spaeth Teacher of Distinction Award
Kristin Colberg, assistant professor of theology

This award is named in honor of Spaeth, who served as dean at SJU for nine years in addition to service as a professor of liberal studies from 1979 until his death in 1994. Each year, Spaeth's commitment to teaching is remembered by honoring a faculty member who brings a special passion and mastery to the classroom and the learning community. This award has been presented yearly since 1995.

Colleagues and students know Colberg, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 2011, as an outstanding teacher, adviser and scholar.

She has developed and revised eight different courses. Colberg helps students relate theology to other areas of knowledge, to skillfully communicate difficult ideas in accessible ways and inspire students to consider a major or minor in theology.

Colberg is also a dedicated adviser known to go beyond the call of duty for her student advisees. She makes the extra effort to meet with her advisees individually or in groups, and often has coffee gatherings after a guest speaker.

“Teaching is clearly a vocation to her and she pursues it with great competence and passion,” a colleague said of Colberg.

S. Linda Kulzer Gender Educator Award
Sucharita Mukherjee, associate professor of economics

This award recognizes a member of the CSB and SJU faculty member who has contributed to students' gender education through curricular leadership, courses taught, scholarship and mentoring of students independent of normal classroom teaching. This person demonstrates leadership and fosters an atmosphere that encourages exploring gender issues from many angles. Kulzer, CSB's vice president for academic affairs from 1977-85 and a professor emerita of education, was a pioneer in the colleges' earliest efforts to integrate gender into the curriculum.

Mukherjee, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 2007, promotes gender education in economics and at the schools. She requires students to consider gender in economic analyses, which is a testimony to her commitment to the explicit study of gender that is the heart of the CSB and SJU mission.

“Her tireless effort and enthusiastic passion for gender education provides students with the opportunity to understand the role gender plays throughout the world,” a former student said.

Additional recognition

Academic advising awards: Julie Lynch, communication; Elisheva Perelman, history. The Academic Adviser of the Year Award was established in 1985. It is awarded to two faculty and/or professional advisers who have distinctly contributed to the advising program, as well as to individual student development and growth throughout the academic year.

Alcuin and Clemens Library Information Literacy Award: Kate Kamakahi, instructor of first year seminar. This award was established in 2011-12, and is given to a faculty member who has “notably contributed” to promoting information literacy throughout the academic year.  

Tenure and promotion to associate professor: Sunil Chetty, mathematics; Shawn Colberg, theology; Janean Kleist, accounting and finance; Kingshuk Mukherjee, global business leadership; Deborah Pembleton, global business leadership; Terri Rodriguez, education.

Promotion to professor: Patricia Bolanos-Fabres, gender studies/Hispanic studies; Karyl Daughters, communication; Don Fischer, exercise science and sports studies; Sam Johnson, art; Bill Lamberts, biology; David Mitchell, biology; Sanford Moskowitz, global business leadership; Imad Rahal, computer science; Parker Wheatley, economics.

College of Saint Benedict

Retirement: Janet Grochowski, education.

Professor emerita and retirement: S. Phyllis Plantenberg, OSB, biology.

Professor emeriti and retirement: Wendy Klepetar, global business leadership; John Olson, economics; Jim Schnepf, computer science.

Professor alumnus and retirement: Andreas Kiryakakis, languages and cultures.

Saint John’s University

Professor emeriti and retirement: Gary Prevost, political science; Fr. Mark Thamert, OSB, languages and cultures; Greg Walker, music.

Special thanks

Department chair, program director term completion: Pam Bacon, psychology; Jayne Byrne, nutrition; Terence Check, communication; Emily Esch, honors program; Don Fischer, exercise science and sport studies; Sophia Geng, Asian studies; Kate Graham, chemistry; Janet Grochowski, education; Claire Haeg, political science; Matthew Harkins, English; Mary Jepperson, accounting and finance; Derek Larson, environmental studies; Shane Miller, gender studies; Sanford Moskowitz, global business leadership; Sheila Nelson, sociology.

Joint Faculty Senate Chair term completion: Bob Hesse, mathematics.


10 Years of service: Kathryn Cox, theology; Sophia Geng, languages and cultures; Elizabeth Johnson-Miller, English; Jennifer Kraemer, communication; Michelle Li-Kuehne, accounting and finance; Lisa Lindgren, global business leadership; Rachel Melis, art; Anna Mercedes, theology/gender studies; Shane Miller, communication/gender studies; Sucharita Mukherjee, economics; Kristina Timmerman, biology; Sarah Yost, physics/astronomy.  

15 years of service: Kelly Berg, communication; James Crumley, physics; Nelsy Echavez-Solano, Hispanic studies; Bernadette Elhard, nutrition; Claire Haeg, political science; Christina Hennessy, Hispanic studies; Linda Shepherd, nutrition.

20 years of service: S. Mary Jane Berger, OSB, first-year seminar; Mani Campos, biology; Katie Johnson, communication; Louis Johnston, economics; Michael Reagan, biology; Charles Wright, philosophy.

25 years of service: Jeffrey Anderson, peace studies; William Cahoy, theology; J. Scott Johnson, political science; Camilla Krone, languages and cultures; Vincent Smiles, theology.

30 years of service: Jan Holtz, psychology; Dean Langley, physics; Kathleen Ohman, nursing.

35 years of service: Patricia Kent, music; Thomas Kirkman, physics; Amy Olson, nutrition.

40 years of service: Daniel Finn, economics, theology; John Merkle, theology; Gary Prevost, political science.

45 years of service: Michael Opitz, English.