Faculty honored at Père Marquette Dinner

By Jack Goods, communication specialist in the Office of Marketing and Communication

Dr. Khadijah (Gigi) Makky, center, stands with Provost Kimo Ah Yun, left, and Dr. William Cullinan, dean of the College of Health Sciences, at the Père Marquette Dinner.

Four Marquette faculty members were honored with the university’s highest teaching honor, Teaching Excellence Awards, and one faculty member received the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award at the 63rd Annual Père Marquette Dinner, which took place the evening of Thursday, May 5, in the AMU’s Monaghan Ballroom.

The event, the first in-person Père Marquette Dinner in three years, was emceed by Dr. Martin St. Maurice, associate professor of biological sciences in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences.

“We have faced great challenges these past years, and they’re not all behind us,” St. Maurice said. “I, for one, am grateful for all of the efforts that have been made by those who have been called to lead in difficult times. … I hope that we can all agree that these are extraordinary times for an extraordinary place.”

Dr. Martin St. Maurice, associate professor of biological sciences, gives his opening remarks at the Père Marquette Dinner.

In recognition of their demonstrated ability to inspire students to grow in knowledge and scholarship for the glory of God and the good of others, the 2022 Teaching Excellence Award winners are:

  • Dr. Gerry Canavan, associate professor of English
  • Dr. Khadijah (Gigi) Makky, clinical professor of biomedical sciences
  • Tracey Sturgal, instructor of practice of communication studies
  • Dr. Amber Young-Brice, assistant professor in the College of Nursing

Marquette’s Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award was established to recognize one faculty member and one staff member who demonstrate exemplary leadership and has shown an ability to put the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion into practical action. The Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award faculty winner is Dr. derria byrd, assistant professor of educational policy and leadership.

Dr. derria byrd, assistant professor of educational policy and leadership, speaks at the Père Marquette Dinner.
President Lovell speaks at the Père Marquette Dinner.

Teaching Excellence Award

Dr. Gerry Canavan, associate professor of English in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Gerry Canavan has created a sizable number of courses since arriving at Marquette in 2012, covering a variety of topics, including cultural preservation, science fiction, fantasy, the graphic novel, Afrofuturism and others supporting environmental and cognitive sciences. He also regularly teaches a course on J.R.R. Tolkien that offers students a guided study of the Tolkien manuscripts housed in the Raynor Memorial Libraries’ Special Collections.

“Gerry is well-known for his wide-ranging teaching interests because he is an authentically curious person, scholar and teacher with a sense of expansive and questioning intelligence,” said Dr. Leah Flack, professor and chair of English. “His students benefit from this quality, but they also learn to inhabit the space of voracious curiosity and intellectual inquiry he creates in every course he teaches.”

Canavan serves as the director of graduate studies in the Department of English. He has a substantial network that he shares with students by connecting them with editors interested in publishing their work and with possible field mentors who are also recognized leaders in their fields.

“I was really honored and honestly humbled to receive this award,” Canavan said. “Marquette has so many absolutely terrific, life-changing instructors, that to be recognized by my peers for my teaching was incredibly moving. Especially after the last few years, which have been such a challenge for all of us in high ed, it was a true career highlight and something I’ll really cherish.”

Dr. Khadijah (Gigi) Makky, clinical professor of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Khadijah (Gigi) Makky’s work focuses on teaching, mentoring and directing the Sterilizer Monitoring Service lab, which helps dental practices and other sterilizer-dependent offices meet the requirements to provide proof of sterilizer function and an enriching educational experience for students. Her impact on the Department of Biomedical Sciences includes the creation and directorship of internship and mentoring programs and the development of community-based projects for students in the Biomedical Sciences Disciplinary Honors program.

“I love teaching and consider it a privilege and responsibility,” Makky said. “So, receiving this award is a great honor and especially meaningful. After 12 years of teaching, my greatest reward comes when I see the spark of student inspiration; my guiding idea of teaching provides extensive opportunities for self-directed and well-earned success. I believe each student is unique and encourage them to be themselves, helping them develop the right mindset for learning and always providing positive feedback to help them believe in themselves.”

Makky, who arrived at Marquette in 2010, has developed highly innovative courses that set the program and institution apart.

“During my 20-plus years at Marquette, I have had the good fortune to meet truly outstanding scientists and scholars,” said Dr. David Baker, professor and chair of biomedical sciences. “I have also met extraordinary educators. I know colleagues who are remarkable by having entirely committed themselves to the betterment of our institution and to the well-being and development of our students. However, Dr. Makky distinguishes herself as one of the very few individuals who displays each of these traits.”

Tracey Sturgal, instructor of practice of communication studies in the Diederich College of Communication

Tracey Sturgal’s guiding principles of “assume positive intent” and “lead with love” are evident in all her interactions with students and colleagues. A member of the Department of Communication Studies since 2006, Sturgal has connected with students in small courses, large lectures and advanced capstones through assignments based on students’ lives and real-world applications.

“Her creative approaches are intentionally designed to help students bring new lenses to the content,” said Dr. Sarah Feldner, dean of the Diederich College of Communication. “In many of her assignments, she draws attention to students’ habits and worldviews to allow them to question how this impacts their communication choices. Ultimately, her connection of content to students’ lives and experiences allows her to seamlessly blend theory and practice.”

Sturgal leads the MIC Speakers Lab, one of the Diederich College of Communication’s signature initiatives. The MIC helps in all aspects of presentation development, from brainstorming ideas and organizing content to practicing effective delivery and creating visuals.

“I’m grateful for my colleagues and students who always inspire me,” Sturgal said. “I value teamwork, hard work and kindness, and am lucky enough to work with colleagues in the Diederich College of Communication and university-wide who also value these tenets, helping me strive for excellence with each passing semester. Of course, I would not be where I am without students who bring these qualities to my classes each week. I educate from a position of trust and optimism with a keen focus on cura personalis and social justice in all of my courses. I’m grateful for my students who help push these crucial conversations forward no matter the subject matter.”

Dr. Amber Young-Brice, assistant professor in the College of Nursing

Dr. Amber Young-Brice is praised for her innovative, evidence-based approach to student learning. She has co-developed and now teaches a series of five courses for faculty and graduate students focused on excellence and best practices in higher education.  Young-Brice also co-developed and leads a Teaching Excellence Program that provides new faculty with mentoring during their first two years at Marquette.

“I have always loved learning, although it never was easy,” Young-Brice said. “I spent recess inside trying to learn math as a kid. In college, challenges continued, but I persevered to reach my goal of becoming a nurse despite setbacks, despite being told I couldn’t do it because of a physical disability. No one could tell me I couldn’t do it. As a nurse, I had the privilege to work in various areas ⁠— psychiatric center, surgical area and mostly as an emergency room nurse. I loved it, but I also loved precepting new nurses and having nursing students. Things finally clicked when I entered my master’s in nursing education in order to teach. I wanted to have an impact on students. This award is such an honor and one that affirms I am where I was meant to be — teaching others.”

When Marquette closed in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Young-Brice led a small team to create standardized course activities for each nursing clinical course, and to create and provide tools for nursing clinical faculty for effective assessment and grading of student performance in online clinical.

“Dr. Young-Brice is a master teacher,” said Dr. Kristina Thomas Dreifuerst, director of the PhD program and associate professor in the College of Nursing. “She walks the talk, integrating evidence-based teaching and learning practices into a myriad of educational environments effortlessly. She understands and utilizes a variety of educational theories and practices to deliver learner-centered, engaging experiences with students and colleagues. Her students get excited about learning and take initiative to meet and exceed expectations because she inspires them.”

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Award

Dr. derria byrd, assistant professor of Educational Policy and Leadership in the College of Education

Dr. derria byrd has displayed a passion for actively engaging in diversity and inclusion through her teaching, research and service. In the classroom, she develops tools to help undergraduate and graduate students critically analyze equity issues within a justice-oriented framework. She also collaborates with colleagues in public schools, universities and community education programs to promote activism.

“Dr. byrd has consistently promoted and advocated for a welcoming environment, contributed to raising awareness about diversity and inclusion within Marquette and made a significant impact on the Marquette community with her unyielding focus on diversity and inclusion,” said Dr. Jody Jessup-Anger, professor and chair of educational policy and leadership. “Because of her consistent efforts drawing attention to diversity and inclusion, our students, department, university and broader higher education community are improved.”

In 2021, byrd used the Faculty Grants for Diverse Course Development Program to redesign the content of “EDUC 4000: Advanced Educational Inquiry” to include the “Advocacy Project,” in which students identify and research an educational issue related to diversity, equity and inclusion. In the fall of 2020, byrd created “Solidarity Circles” in collaboration with colleagues to provide undergraduate and graduate students space to share their experiences.

“Though it feels uncomfortable to be recognized in this way for simply doing what I think is right, I am thankful to the colleagues who supported my nomination and who selected me for the award,” byrd said. “I am honored to accept this recognition on behalf of those who work daily, in small individual ways and those who engage in organized, collective action to help make Marquette and other educational spaces more justice-oriented in policy, practice and belief.”

Marquette Core Curriculum Teaching Excellence Award

Dr. Bryan C. Rindfleisch, associate professor of history in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Bryan C. Rindfleisch specializes in early colonial American, Native American and Atlantic World history. His nominators praised his classes as “models for ethical engagement with the diverse communities that shape the modern world” and emphasized the centrality of experiential learning and community engagement in his pedagogy. They also highlighted how Rindfleisch brought his research expertise into the classroom, noting that “his emphasis on indigenous history, especially in his courses that trace the indigenous history of urban spaces like Milwaukee, ask students to consider the many histories that are subsumed or ignored in the spaces they inhabit, travel and work within every day.”

Rindfleisch regularly teaches classes fulfilling the Core Curriculum’s Engaging Social Systems and Values requirements as well as classes in the Discovery Tier. He also started the Indigeneity Lab, which supports the experiential learning of Marquette’s Indigenous undergraduate students through high-impact, faculty-mentored interdisciplinary undergraduate research.

“I am incredibly humbled to be recognized for this award, especially knowing there are far more deserving candidates and me being inspired by my brilliant colleagues every day,” Rindfleisch said.

Way Klingler Sabbatical Fellowship Award

Dr. Corinne Bloch-Mullins, associate professor of philosophy in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Corinne Bloch-Mullins specializes in the study of concepts — the mental constructs that refer to categories of objects or phenomena — that help humans make sense of the world. She studies the formation, development and application of both ordinary and scientific concepts and the different roles that scientific concepts play in investigative practice.

Receiving the Way Klingler Sabbatical Fellowship Award grants the honoree their full salary, plus two additional months of summer pay and $10,000 to fund travel and expenses related to research conducted during the year-long sabbatical. During her sabbatical, Bloch-Mullins will collaborate with Dr. Robert Goldstone, distinguished professor and chancellor’s professor of psychological brain sciences at Indiana University, on a project titled “Contours of Similarity.”

Bloch-Mullins and Goldstone will design and run a series of novel empirical and theoretical studies explicating the processes of similarity judgments, as well as the roles of these judgments in shaping categories at different levels of abstraction (from basic categories such as “dog” to highly abstract categories such as “justice”).

“I am deeply grateful for this opportunity,” Bloch-Mullins said. “The sabbatical will allow me to advance my long-term research agenda not only by facilitating my current work on concepts, but also by expanding the range of methodologies I have at my disposal for future research into cognition.”

Way Klingler Teaching Enhancement Award

Interdisciplinary faculty team consisting of:

  • Cheryl Brenner, mathematics content specialist, Educational Opportunity Program
  • Dr. Joshua Burns, associate dean of academic affairs, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Nakia Gordon, associate professor, Department of Psychology
  • Dr. Marta Magiera, associate professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
  • Dr. Christopher Stocker, assistant chair and visiting assistant professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
  • Dr. Leigh van den Kieboom, associate dean, College of Education

The team, which includes representatives from the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and the Educational Opportunity Program, is currently working on a project titled “Scaffolding Student Success in Marquette University Coursework,” which holds the potential to enhance Marquette’s institutional capacity to promote student academic success.

The project aims to aid in the design of a six-credit developmental mathematics course to support underprepared students in learning requisite skills and concepts for college-level mathematics courses, successfully completing MATH 1400 (Elements of Calculus) and developing problem-solving strategies and study habits via a supportive student learning community.

For over a decade, the National Center of Educational Statistics has documented growing trends in the number of high school students who enter post-secondary institutions with limited preparation for college-level coursework. The long-observed concerns have been amplified by the current COVID-19 global pandemic that disrupted the educational experiences of high school students preparing to enter college. This award grants up to $20,000 to the team to help address these issues.