Faculty honored at Academic Affairs Awards ceremony

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May 10, 2018


Anne Sinko


Sophia Geng


Susan Cogdill


Kate Bohn-Gettler

Faculty and staff members from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University were honored at the Academic Affairs Awards and Recognition Ceremony May 7 at the Gorecki Center, CSB. 

Anne Sinko, assistant professor of mathematics, and Sophia Geng, associate professor of languages and cultures and gender studies, received the Sister Mary Grell Teacher of Distinction Award and the Robert L. Spaeth Teacher of Distinction Award, respectively.

The recipients of each Teacher of Distinction award delivers the Convocation address at CSB and SJU at the beginning of the academic year. Sinko will deliver the address at CSB and Geng at SJU on Aug. 27 – the first day of the 2018-19 academic year.

The S. Linda Kulzer Gender Educator Award was awarded to Susan Cogdill, assistant professor of music and education at CSB and SJU.

The Linda Mealey Faculty/Student Collaborative Research and Creativity Award was presented to Kate Bohn-Gettler, associate professor of education.

The Academic Affairs Awards Ceremony also 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
Anne Sinko, assistant professor of mathematics

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.

Sinko, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 2011, is described as a master teacher who uses innovative methods that enable her students to succeed. Her teaching philosophy revolves around discovery – discovery of mathematics, ideas, abilities and potential within one’s self.

Sinko uses an Inquiry Based Learning pedagogy in her courses to achieve her goals of having students think deeply about mathematics and to get students to collaborate with their peers.

“Not only has she given me a deep understanding of the subject material in class, but she has also given me an appreciation of mathematics as a discipline and prepared me for lifelong learning,” a student commented.

Robert L. Spaeth Teacher of Distinction Award
Sophia Geng, associate professor of language and cultures and gender studies

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.

Geng is known as a creative teacher, dedicated mentor and collaborative researcher. She is known to use a variety of activities and teaching tools to engage her students inside and outside the classroom.

“Teaching should be an interactive engaging process that centers on the holistic development of the students,” said Geng, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 2007. She believes a teacher should serve as a guide and facilitator in the classroom and as a mentor and adviser out of the classroom.

“She upholds the missions of the colleges with her devotion to her students, her eagerness to bring something of her part of the world to our campuses, her energetic speaking schedule all over this country and her own, and willingness to spread her talents and knowledge beyond her own courses and own department,” a colleague said of Geng.

S. Linda Kulzer Gender Educator Award
Susan Cogdill, assistant professor of music and education

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.

Cogdill’s service and scholarly work focuses strongly on gender education. In her five years on campus, she has made extraordinary strides with the CSB Women’s Choir, increasing the community visibility of the group and creating a safe, creative environment for young women to nurture self-esteem and a sense of community.

This year, Cogdill took on a project to help members of the Women’s Choir “Find Their Voices Within.” Cogdill uses a circle singing/improvisatory singing and traditional choir singing to grow awareness of who they are as women, what voices have guided them to this point in their lives and to process what that voice is for their future lives as well.

Linda Mealey Faculty/Student Collaborative Research and Creativity Award
Kate Bohn-Gettler, associate professor of education

The Linda Mealey Faculty/Student Collaborative Research and Creativity Award is given annually to a faculty member who exemplifies demonstrated excellence in scholarship as well as teaching, conducts student/faculty collaborative research or creative work and excels in the mentoring of students. The award, which was established as the Teacher-Scholar Award in 2000, was renamed for Mealey in 2004. Mealey, who had received the award in the spring of 2002, passed away in November 2002.

Bohn-Gettler has made a significant impact on her students and colleagues. In her first semester at CSB and SJU (fall of 2014), she developed an education class in which she works collaboratively with a small group of students to conceptualize research studies, collect and analyze data, interpret results and present and publish their work.

“She was the first teacher I ever saw embody every single concept she was teaching,” a former student said. A colleague stated, “She is deeply committed to a welcoming, inclusive learning environment where all voices and perspectives are valued.”

Additional recognition

Special appointments to chair positions: Terry Johnson, education, to the Marie and Robert Jackson Associate Professor of Education; Cindy Malone, English, to the John and Lois Welshons Professor of English.

Academic advising awards: Todd Johnson, physics; Mary Stenson, exercise science and sport studies. 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: J. Andrew Edwards, theology. 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: Jodi Berndt, nursing; Kate Bohn-Gettler, education; Kristin Colberg, theology; Whitney Court, political science; Georgia Dinndorf-Hogenson, nursing; Amy Grinsteiner, music; Jonathan Nash, history; Alicia Peterson, chemistry; Jason Schlude, languages and culture; Anne Sinko, mathematics.

Promotion to professor: Bret Benesh, mathematics; Claire Haeg, political science; Matthew Harkins, English; Christina Mougoyanni Hennessy, Hispanic studies and gender studies; Kris Nairn, mathematics.


College of Saint Benedict

Retirement: James Makepeace, sociology.

Professor emerita and retirement: Anna McKenna, chemistry; Amy Olson, nutrition.

Professor emeritus and retirement: Mike Opitz, English.

Saint John’s University

Professor emeritus and retirement: Michael Gass, mathematics; Marcus Webster, biology.

Special thanks

Department chair, program director term completion: Br. Dennis Beach, OSB, philosophy; Jim Crumley, physics; Bob Hesse, mathematics; Ken Jones, history; Bill Lamberts, biology; Rachelle Larsen, nursing; Shane Miller, communication; Madhu Mitra, English; Sarah Pruett, languages and cultures; Elena Sanchez Mora, Hispanic studies; Parker Wheatley, economics.

Curriculum director term completion: Emily Esch, philosophy.

Joint Faculty Senate Chair term completion: Jean Lavigne, environmental studies.


10 Years of service: Bret Benesh, mathematics; Shannon Essler-Petty, education; Ben Faber, psychology; Md Abul Fazal, chemistry; Tania Gomez, Hispanic studies; Kristi Hendricks, education; Theresa Johnson, education; Carl Lindgren, FYS; Kingshuk Mukherjee, global business leadership; Scott Murphy, art; Allison Spenader, education; Erica Stonestreet, philosophy; Steve Welch, accounting and finance. 

15 years of service: Pam Bacon, psychology; Eleonora Bertranou, Hispanic studies; Mark Hennigs, theater; Carrie Hoover, nursing; Mary Jepperson, accounting and finance; Kris Nairn, mathematics; Br. Simon-Hoa Phan, OSB, art; Aric Putnam, communication.

20 years of service: Carie Braun, nursing; Brian Campbell, music; Phil Chu, biology; Martin Connell, theology; Michael Heroux, computer science; John Kendall, FYS; Rachelle Larsen, nursing;  Derek Larson, history and environmental studies; David Mitchell, biology; Maureen McCarter, languages and cultures and gender studies; Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, theology; Elaine Rutherford, art.

25 years of service: Charles Bobertz, theology.

30 years of service: Carolyn Finley, music; Jennifer Galovich, mathematics; Henry Jakubowski, chemistry; Janet Neuwirth, nursing; Jim Read, political science; Wendy Sterba, modern and classical languages; Richard Wielkiewicz, psychology.  

35 years of service: Michael Gass, associate professor of mathematics.