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Academic Affairs Awards and Recognition ceremony honors faculty

Five faculty members from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have been recognized with top honors at the annual Academic Affairs Awards and Recognition ceremony. 

The faculty awards went to:

  • Erica Stonestreet, associate professor of philosophy
  • Jean Keller, professor of philosophy and chair of gender studies
  • Megan Sheehan, assistant professor of sociology
  • Julie Lynch, instructor of communication
  • Carie Braun, professor of nursing

Academic Affairs also recognized faculty for retirements, tenure and promotions and contributions as department chairs and leaders during the ceremony in May.

Additional background on the award recipients and retirees can be found on the Academic Affairs website.

Sister Mary Grell/Robert Spaeth Teacher of Distinction Award

Recipient: Erica Stonestreet, associate professor of philosophy

Stonestreet has been teaching in the philosophy department since 2008. Her dedication to promoting an active learning environment that is inclusive for all students and encourages them to think creatively and apply philosophy to their everyday lives embodies CSB and SJU’s institutional learning goals. Stonestreet teaches several courses including (but not limited to) Logic, Philosophy of Human Nature, and Moral Philosophy. Furthermore, she has collaborated with several departments in creating and revising courses related to ethics and played a key role in developing a variety of aspects in the Integrations Curriculum. 

Stonestreet’s teaching philosophy is based on Socrates’ claim that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” She aims to get her students to see what there is to examine: to ask philosophical questions. That’s really the most crucial step in education. She uses not only philosophy but stories and poetry as well as texts from science and anthropology in her courses to help students cultivate wonder and launch curiosity. Stonestreet’s passion and skill for helping students make connections between philosophical questions and today’s society has been evident during her time as a faculty member at CSB and SJU. As one student wrote, “Dr. Stonestreet’s teaching style provokes a deeper sense of understanding and interest in the material being taught. As an English major, I never imagined an area such as philosophy would become an academic interest of mine. However, after my first class with Dr. Stonestreet, I suddenly found myself pondering philosophical questions and the implications they have on my own life.” In the classroom, Stonestreet guides students to develop a better understanding of their place in the world around them and how philosophical questions play a role in the development of their beliefs and everyday life.

This faculty award is named for two outstanding teachers. 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. Spaeth 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.

Sister Linda Kulzer Gender Educator Award

Recipient: Jean Keller, professor of philosophy and chair of gender studies

Keller has been a long-time champion of gender education at CSB and SJU. She has published book chapters and journal articles advancing feminist philosophy and inclusive teaching. She has organized workshops, field trips and innovative student presentations to foster gender exploration for all members of our community. Keller is an important gender mentor to students and faculty alike. She speaks up for justice, working to secure a better working environment for us all. Her teaching in numerous gender-related courses has a powerful effect on students. One of her past students stated, “I continue to speak out, stand up, and work for not only LGBTQA+ equality and justice, but also for equality and justice for all. I was and am able to do this, to live this life, because of Dr. Keller’s support.”

Finally, Keller has collaborated with other valuable gender educators on campus – in true feminist fashion – in securing the future of gender studies at CSB and SJU throughout the challenges of COVID-19 and the academic program prioritization. Through her leadership as chair of gender studies, and her creativity and openness to curricular redesign, CSB and SJU are fortunate to provide in-depth gender education to their students.

This award recognizes a member of the CSB and SJU faculty 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. The award is named for Kulzer, CSB’s vice president for academic affairs from 1977-85 and a professor emerita of education who was a pioneer in the colleges’ earliest efforts to integrate gender into the curriculum. 

Linda Mealey Faculty/Student Collaborative Research and Creativity Award

Recipient: Megan Sheehan, assistant professor of sociology

Since her arrival in 2017, Sheehan has worked diligently to fulfill her roles as teacher, researcher and mentor on the CSB and SJU campuses. She has invited students to work with her on every one of her projects – teaching and mentoring them in all stages of research and allowing them to gain authentic and unique research experience. Sheehan maintains several long-term research agendas, including immersive and intense ethnographic field work in Chile, where she and her students investigate how individuals in migrant communities confront the exponential migration that has occurred over the last 20 years. These opportunities for CSB and SJU students are exceptionally rare and “life changing,” as one of her students wrote. In other research endeavors, Sheehan explores issues on the CSB and SJU campuses. She and students have worked on evaluating food insecurity on campus and several variables that impact food insecurity and possible mitigation strategies. She also developed an ongoing study on the experiences of students on CSB and SJU campuses regarding religious inclusion. 

These are just a few of the projects Sheehan has explored, but she has found a way to integrate all of them into her course design. One of her former students wrote, “(Megan) encourages our ideas and helps us to connect class concepts with the everyday world and draw inspiration from our passions and experience.” Sheehan has a rich desire and commitment to mentoring CSB and SJU students both in and outside of the classroom. She has invested much by including them in the earliest stages of project development through the publication process. Her ability to mentor students beyond what is required for the research has ultimately impacted the lives of many. Her students perhaps say it best, “Megan was not just supporting me because it was something she had to do, but it was something she wanted to do,” and “my growth and development as a student, researcher and overall person has completely surpassed whatever expectations I had, and I owe all of that to Dr. Sheehan.”

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.

Catholic Benedictine Educator Award

Recipient: Julie Lynch, instructor of communication

As a communication professor, Lynch creatively draws on her spiritual direction certification at the Monastery of Saint Benedict in her teaching and work with students. She effectively integrates the Benedictine charism of listening with the ear of the heart with communication theory and research in her Communication and Learning Foundation courses. For instance, the purpose of her Listening for Justice course is “to be attentive to another’s perspective. Listening well requires patience, thought and empathy. If we can better understand and share our neighbor’s struggles and joys, we are able to grow in relationship and ultimately community.” In this course, students experientially connect the art of listening with the ear of heart with their weekly practice of lectio divina assignments. As one student wrote, “I enjoyed hearing everyone’s responses to the scripture reading. We all slowed down in order to take the time to notice what the scripture was saying to us. I think this patience is what it takes to listen with the ear of the heart.” 

The Catholic Benedictine Educator Award recognizes creative engagement between the Catholic Benedictine tradition and teaching throughout the curriculum. This award affirms a CSB and SJU faculty member whose exemplary teaching successfully integrates the Catholic Benedictine tradition with courses in their academic discipline and/or the Integrations Curriculum.

Jennifer Galovich Service Award

Recipient: Carie Braun, professor of nursing

Braun has served the Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s community for 25 years, demonstrating a broad and deep commitment to service of the nursing department, faculty governance, the institutions and the higher education community. She chaired the nursing department for six years and was instrumental in leading that program to successful fundraising for and development of state-of-the-art facilities for nursing education. She has consistently and regularly served at all other levels of departmental management, from advising the student club to serving on the new graduate committee. In addition to these commitments, she has served on eight standing committees during her career and has served on the Rank and Tenure committee for the last six years – twice chairing that committee. In each case of standing committee service, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the processes and work of committees. Moreover, she ably led the faculty during her two-year term as vice-chair and then chair of the Joint Faculty Assembly and Senate.

In other areas of college service, Braun served on and then led the Institutional Review Board during its early formation, starting more than 20 years ago. She helped to systematize the many and important processes for overseeing human subjects research on campus – an essential part of student learning and faculty research. She has served on several search committees for other departments and twice served on presidential search committees. Her deep commitment to assessment at the departmental and institutional level is demonstrated by her extensive work in departmental assessment and her institution-wide efforts supporting Higher Learning Commission Accreditation efforts. She has twice led the detailed efforts for accreditation, and most recently led the writing effort of the recent mid-cycle Accreditation Review in 2022. Her careful work and commitment have been highly valued and essential for the ongoing success of accreditation efforts.

Beyond the institutional boundaries, Braun has raised the institutional profile through her service to the Higher Learning Commission as a peer reviewer, her leadership in the National Nursing Society and her volunteer efforts with the St. Cloud Hospital.

The Jennifer Galovich Service Award is named for Galovich, who retired in 2019 after serving on the mathematics faculty for 28 years. She was known for her commitment to her students but especially as having strong and exemplary service to the institutions. She served as chair and vice chair of the Joint Faculty Assembly, and also served on numerous other committees at CSB and SJU. However, she is best known for her exemplary work as the Faculty Handbook chair. This award was presented for the first time in 2020.

Additional recognition

Academic advising awards:

The Academic Advisor of the Year Award was established in 1985. It is awarded to two faculty and/or professional advisors who have distinctly contributed to the advising program, as well as to individual student development and growth throughout the academic year. This year’s recipients include:

Terry Johnson, education

Sharon Wenner, academic advising

Received tenure:

Lisa Gentile, chemistry

Received tenure and promotion to associate professor:

Corrie Grosse, environmental studies

Megan Sheehan, sociology

Ben Trnka, accounting and finance

Professor Alumni and retirement:

Martin Connell, theology

Sarah Pruett, languages and cultures

Chris Schaller, chemistry

Professor Emeriti and retirement:

Carolyn Finley, music

Sister Jeanne Lust, OSB, biology

Cindy Malone, English

Kathy Ohman, nursing

Ron Pagnucco, peace studies

Edward Turley (Posthumous), music


Kathy Parker, director of libraries

Special thanks

Department chair, program director term completion:

Mark Glen, nutrition

Derek Larson, environmental studies

Alicia Peterson, chemistry

Jen Schaefer, biology

Yvette South, English

Allison Spenader, education

Julie Strelow, nursing

Steve Welch, accounting and finance

Joint Faculty Senate Chair term completion:

Parker Wheatley, economics

Inclusive Pedagogy Practitioner Certificate and Digital Badge:

Faculty who attended three (or more) inclusive teaching professional development events at CSB and SJU during the 2022-2023 academic year and who provided a short reflection on how their teaching supports inclusion have earned a certificate and digital badge. These include:

Boz Bostrom, accounting and finance

Kate Cary, biology

Whitney Court, political science

Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman, theology

Emily Esch, philosophy

Julie Fisk, global business leadership

Matt Lindstrom, political science

Kingshuk Mukherjee, global business leadership

Sucharita Mukherjee, economics

Jen Schaefer, biology

Faculty Search Advocates:

A search advocate is a member of a search committee who helps colleagues to avoid unconscious, unintentional biases, and who assists committees with efforts to include diversity inclusion, and equity in their hiring processes and decisions. All search advocates have completed training to prepare them for this important service to the institutions. These include: 

Jessica Harkins, English

Christi Siver, political science

Faculty award recipientsRecipients of faculty awards this spring included (from left): Jean Keller, professor of philosophy and chair of gender studies, who received the Sister Linda Keller Gender Education Award; Megan Sheehan, assistant professor of sociology, who received the Linda Mealey Faculty-Student Collaborative Research and Creativity Award; Julie Lynch, instructor of communication, who received the Catholic Benedictine Education Award; and CSB and SJU President Brian Bruess, who made the presentations.

Erica Stonestreet

Erica Stonestreet

Jean Keller

Jean Keller

Megan Sheehan

Megan Sheehan

Julie Lynch

Julie Lynch

Carie Braun

Carie Braun