Faculty honored at Academic Affairs Awards ceremony

Bookmark and Share

May 14, 2019

Emily Esch

Emily Esch

Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith

Bret Benesh

Bret Benesh

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 6 at the Founders Room, SJU.

Emily Esch, associate professor of philosophy, and Corey Shouse, associate professor of Hispanic 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. Esch will deliver the address at CSB and Shouse at SJU on Aug. 26 – the first day of the 2019-20 academic year.

The S. Linda Kulzer Gender Educator Award was awarded to Shannon Smith, assistant professor of history at CSB and SJU.

The Linda Mealey Faculty/Student Collaborative Research and Creativity Award was presented to Bret Benesh, associate professor of mathematics.

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

Emily Esch, associate professor of philosophy

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. Grell served as president of CSB from 1963-68. This award has been presented yearly since 1995.

Esch, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 2006, is an expert on developing assessable and appropriate learning goals. She spent the last several years working on general education and honors reform.

She has served as the executive director of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers, overseeing its biennial conference and expanding programs. Esch is currently the organization’s vice president.

“My education under Emily has made me compassionate, solution-orientated, resolute and slow to anger in the workplace,” a student said of Esch. Another student added that “Emily not only teaches what she preaches but practices it as well and works to advocate for our campuses and inclusion, diversity and students.” 

Robert L. Spaeth Teacher of Distinction Award

Corey Shouse, associate professor of Hispanic 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.

Shouse, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 1999, is known as an excellent teacher, dedicated adviser and outstanding scholar who is known for his personable, effective and fair teaching and advising.

He is described as having a passion for teaching in Spanish language, literature and culture and having a natural ability to weave students into discussion. Shouse uses his assignments to help his students build real life skills.

“He is an engaging, enthusiastic teacher who used his beloved Latin American literature and fil to mold CSB/SJU students into more critical thinkers, skilled workers, competent speakers and productive citizens of the world,” a former student said of Shouse.

S. Linda Kulzer Gender Educator Award

Shannon Smith, assistant professor of history

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.

Smith believes “that once students begin to identify and question the ways that gender structures their lives, they can begin to peel back the layers and challenge systematic inequalities while understanding themselves and others for their true gifts.”

She is committed to the study of gender in both the classes she teaches and the research she conducts. Smith, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 2013, teaches her students a new way to look at the world, and to pay attention to the things that they are taught, both subliminally and explicitly.

Linda Mealey Faculty/Student Collaborative Research and Creativity Award

Bret Benesh, associate professor of mathematics

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.

Benesh, who has taught at CSB and SJU since 2008, has been described as an invaluable member of the mathematics department and the greater community, demonstrating a mastery of teaching, excelling in scholarship as well as service.

“His motivation to try new ideas is inspiring, and the careful consideration he gives to each mode of teaching demonstrates his focus on benefits for students,” a colleague said. “He emphasizes posing good questions, giving students time to develop their own ideas as well as time to build the ability to communicate their ideas.”

“Everyone who wants to teach should be required to take at least one of Bret’s classes,” added a former student. 

Additional recognition

Special appointment: Christi Siver, to the Joseph Farry Professorship within the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement. Siver will work with debate programming, educating and enabling members of the CSB/SJU community to engage in civic and civil discourse on serious public policy issues.

Academic advising awards: Kristy Hendricks, instructor of education; John Kendall, writing center. 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.

Tenure and promotion to associate professor: Amelia Cheever, theater; Susan Cogdill Vollbrecht, music; Rachel Marston, English; Yvette Piggush, English; Shannon Smith, history; Christen Strollo, chemistry; Qiang (Tony) Yan, global business leadership.

Promotion to professor: Kate Bohn-Gettler, education; Carrie Hoover, nursing; Terri Rodriguez, education.


College of Saint Benedict

Professor alumna and retirement: Jan Holtz, psychology.

Saint John’s University

Retirement: Jean Didier, global business leadership.

Professor alumnus and retirement: Jim Hendershot, art.

Professor emeriti and retirement: Jennifer Galovich, mathematics; Fr. Rene McGraw, OSB, philosophy; Stephen Wagner, philosophy.

Special thanks

Department chair, program director term completion: Mark Hennigs, theater; Anna Mercedes, theology; Sanford Moskowitz, global business leadership; Sheila Nelson, sociology; Br. Simon-Hoa Phan, OSB, art; Imad Rahal, computer science; Ed Turley, music.

Joint Faculty Senate Chair term completion: Ben Faber, psychology.


10 years of service: Jodi Berndt, associate professor of nursing; Troy Knight, associate professor of environmental studies; Alicia Peterson, assistant professor of chemistry.

15 years of service: Jon Armajani, professor of theology; Warren ‘Boz’ Bostrom, associate professor of accounting and finance; Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman, associate professor of theology; Janelle Hinchley, instructor of first-year seminar; Nicholas Jones, associate professor of chemistry; Julie Strelow, associate professor of nursing.

20 years of service: Mathew Callahan, visiting assistant professor of English; Bruce Campbell, professor of Hispanic studies; Ron Pagnucco, associate professor of peace studies; Corey Shouse, associate professor of Hispanic studies; Linda Tennison, professor of psychology.

25 years of service: Patricia Bolanos-Fabres, professor of gender studies and Hispanic studies; Gordon Brown, associate professor of biology; Jayne Byrne, associate professor of nutrition; Kate Graham, associate professor of chemistry; Br. Luke Mancuso, OSB, associate professor of English; Paul Marsnik, professor of global business leadership; M. Sheila Nelson, sociology.

30 years of service: Jeanne Cook, professor of communication; John Hasselberg, professor of global business leadership; Meg Lewis, professor of economics; Marina Martin, professor of Hispanic studies; Madhu Mitra, professor of English and gender studies; Elena Sanchez Mora, professor of Hispanic studies.

35 years of service: Noreen Herzfeld, professor of computer science and theology; Sarah Pruett, instructor of languages and cultures; Scott Richardson, professor of languages and cultures; Tom Sibley, professor of mathematics; Stephen Wagner, professor of philosophy.

50 years of service: Axel Theimer, professor of music.

Becoming Community

Practitioner Certificate recipients: Bret Benesh, mathematics; Robert Campbell, mathematics; Pedro dos Santos, political science; Emily Esch, philosophy; Janelle Hinchley, first-year seminar; Kurt Hollender, languages and cultures; John Houston, philosophy; Roy Ketchum, Hispanic studies; Deborah Pembleton, global business leadership; Christen Strollo, chemistry.

Advanced Practitioner Certificate recipients: Pam Bacon, psychology; Catherine Bohn-Gettler, education; Jeanne Cofell, education; J. Andrew Edwards, School of Theology; Corrie Grosse, environmental studies; Katherine Leehy, biology; Amanda Macht Jantzer, psychology; Anna Mercedes, theology and gender studies; Shane Miller, communication and gender studies.