Arts & Sciences, Communication, Health Sciences, Marquette Business, Nursing

Faculty honored at 2024 Père Marquette Dinner

Four Marquette faculty members were honored with the university’s highest teaching honor, the Teaching Excellence Award, and one faculty member received the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award at the 65th Annual Père Marquette Dinner, Thursday, May 2, in the AMU Monaghan Ballrooms. 

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 2024 Teaching Excellence Award winners are: 

Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., Faculty Awards for Teaching Excellence

  • Dr. Kristie Rogers, associate professor of management  
  • Dr. Robert Wheeler, professor of biomedical sciences  
  • Prof. David Wilcox, teaching instructor of strategic communication 

Robert and Mary Gettel Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence

  • Dr. Allison Abbott, associate professor of biological sciences  

Marquette’s Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award was established to recognize one faculty member and one staff member who each demonstrate exemplary leadership and have 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. Abiola Keller, associate professor of nursing. 

President Michael R. Lovell shared a video message with attendees during the ceremony, as he was unable to attend due to receiving cancer treatment. 

“I want to thank each of you for your creativity and for going above and beyond the call of duty to transform our students’ lives,” President Lovell said in the video. “I truly appreciate the unique ways that you share your knowledge, skills and gifts with your students. You help them achieve their dreams and you are a model for what it means to Be The Difference.” 

Teaching Excellence Awards

Dr. Allison Abbott, associate professor of biological sciences 

Dr. Allison Abbott has taught a variety of courses over her 17 years as part of the Department of Biological Sciences, ranging from large introductory lectures to specialized graduate courses. No matter the level, Abbott brings the same engaging, supportive and caring approach. Her teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that student learning depends on the relationship that is built between students and their teacher. 

“It is Allison’s goal to get to know her students as individuals, meet them where they are, and to then accompany them on their learning journey, while challenging and providing them with support and resources along the way,” said Dr. Rosemary Stuart, professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Biological Sciences. “She does not assume that every student comes to her courses with the same level of background knowledge, excitement, sense of belonging or motivation. Rather she invests the time to get to know her students as individuals, encourages them to attend office hours, engage in activities in discussion sections and holds separate study sessions for students outside of regular class hours.” 

Abbott has additionally developed a strong reputation for student-centered mentoring and education. In her research lab, she has guided the dissertation research projects of four Ph.D. students (a fifth is currently in progress) and two master’s students. Her research lab has also been a fruitful learning environment for many undergraduate students. She has hosted and mentored over 40 undergraduate research trainees in her research laboratory. She works with each student on their career planning, mentoring them through their career discernments, graduate program and more. 

“I feel honored, grateful and very lucky to get to work with my faculty and staff colleagues who are deeply committed to our undergraduate and graduate students,” Abbott said.

Dr. Kristie Rogers, associate professor of management

Dr. Kristie Rogers’ effective teaching methods, particularly in her business negotiation courses, have been consistently praised by students. She was named one of the Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professors by Poets & Quants in 2022, exemplifying her ability to share the expertise that has earned her placements in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review

“Kristie’s teaching philosophy is a dynamic blend of active learning, personal development, and practical application,” said Tim Hanley, Acting James H. Keyes Dean of the College of Business Administration. “Her innovative teaching style, coupled with her genuine commitment to student growth, exemplifies the qualities valued most in Marquette University professors, and this is reflected in her teaching scores and recognition at Marquette and in the broader world of business education.” 

In practice, this philosophy begins with students learning by doing and reflecting on their experiences in ways that enable their progress toward becoming the best versions of themselves, professionally and personally. She facilitates their learning-by-doing in her classes through simulated and real-world experiences followed by interactive class discussions that link those experiences with class concepts and theories. 

“Attending the Pere Marquette dinners as a member of the audience has been a highlight of academic years past for me,” Rogers said. “I found myself drawn into the narratives of excellence and dedication by previous awardees, hoping that one day I would be among them. To say I am honored would be an understatement.  

“I strive to be that same transformative force for my students that my mentors were for me. And so, my favorite part of teaching isn’t the content itself, though I love it dearly. It’s the moments when a student’s eyes light up with the realization that they’re capable of doing something they hadn’t thought possible.” 

Dr. Robert Wheeler, professor of biomedical sciences

Dr. Robert Wheeler is praised by his colleagues and students for his passionate and captivating lecture style, his usage of modern tools in the classroom and his care for the well-being of his students and mentees. According to Dr. David Baker, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Wheeler’s best achievement may be the courses he’s designed – particularly BISC 4170, which merges material from the natural and social sciences to examine public policy issues. 

“Due to the distinctive nature and profound impact of this course, I believe it should be taught at every university,” Baker said. “I also believe it should be required for all students enrolled in a Jesuit institution. However, neither of these are possible because it only exists at Marquette. It only exists at Marquette because of the unique talents and achievements of Bob Wheeler.” 

Wheeler, who has been at Marquette since 2010, credits his teaching philosophy to his Jesuit education. A graduate of the University of Scranton, he was encouraged to be curious and skeptical from a young age. 

Today, his lab studies the impact of unpleasant experiences on the neurotransmitter systems that process motivation, with the goal of understanding how negative emotional states influence behavior. This line of study informs the courses he designs, as he focuses on cultivating unique and intellectually challenging experiences that encourage introspection and are specifically appealing to Marquette students. 

“I am incredibly grateful for this honor, and I appreciate the support of the colleagues and students who have taught me over the years how to be an instructor and mentor,” Wheeler said. “It is a privilege to be able to do what I love at an institution that fosters both high impact research and the development of courses that encourage students to broaden their thinking and relate better to each other. Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to participate in Marquette’s Ignatian tradition.” 

Prof. David Wilcox, teaching instructor of strategic communication 

Prof. David Wilcox spent 25 years in the advertising business creating ads for hundreds of clients – among them State Farm, Anheuser-Busch, Universal Pictures and McDonald’s – and since 2015 has displayed a masterful ability to weave his experiences into the Marquette classroom. He’s additionally created opportunities for students to develop real world knowledge. He was instrumental in the formation and now serves as faculty director of the Carl Collective, a partnership between the Diederich College of Communication and Trozzolo Communications Group that provides a chance for students to work in a professional agency environment on real client work. 

“Dave not only connects with his students, but he also provides them with a transformational educational experience,” said Dr. Kati Berg, associate dean of academic affairs in the Diederich College of Communication. 

His philosophy is rooted in seven succinct points: 

  • Teach with both the head and heart. 
  • Strive to see potential, not just proficiency. 
  • Don’t talk. Engage. 
  • Don’t assign. Inspire. 
  • Recognize and embrace students as individuals and learn from them. 
  • Encourage creativity. “Yes, and…” is far more effective and appreciated than “Yes, but…” 
  • Remember learning is both incremental and never-ending, for both student and teacher. 

“I am fortunate to have been influenced by some amazing, caring teachers over the course of my life,” Wilcox said. “I very much appreciate this recognition, and I feel I share this honor with those teachers and the talented faculty in the Diederich College of Communication.”

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Award

Dr. Abiola Keller, associate professor of nursing

Dr. Abiola Keller’s commitment to excellence in diversity, equity and inclusion is evident in all aspects of her role — teaching, research and service. She actively works to improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations through professional, university and community service.

“Dr. Keller daily leads and advances diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Nursing, university and community,” said Dr. Jill Guttormson, dean of the College of Nursing. “Across all spheres, Dr. Keller exemplifies a deep commitment to creating environments that empower individuals from all backgrounds. This commitment aligns with the broader goal of building just social and physical environments for everyone, embodying the ethos of being men and women for and with others at Marquette University.”

In the classroom, Keller promotes connections for students, provides mentoring and creates a sense of community, consistently instilling in her students an understanding of social and cultural disparities and inequalities in health. This commitment is also evident in her research, which focuses on African American health and well-being with emphasis on African American women as caregivers.

She’s additionally made an impact through her involvement with African American College of Nursing Student and Faculty chats, the Burke Foundation, Marquette’s Community Engagement Taskforce, Meta House and the Near West Side Partners Healthy Community Working Team.

“I am honored and grateful to receive the Marquette University 2024 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Award,” Keller said. “My passion and commitment to creating enriching environments that allow every individual to reach their highest potential is fueled by the wisdom, encouragement and unwavering support I have received from mentors, colleagues and community collaborators along the way. I am truly fortunate to engage in this work with students, faculty and community members who lean into courageous conversations and the work necessary to create communities where every individual feels welcomed, valued, and empowered.”

Also recognized at the Père Marquette Dinner were:

MCC Teaching Excellence Award 

Dr. Sergio González, assistant professor of history 

Dr. Sergio González was recognized from among a competitive slate of nominees for his clear contributions to the MCC’s learning outcomes, especially the fourth outcome, “Collaborators Promoting Equity and Justice across Cultural Contexts.” 

Nominators praised González’s promotion of community-engaged learning in the classroom and his ability to help students see their place in the larger history of Milwaukee. Student comments, meanwhile, stressed the ways his courses encouraged self-conscious learning that invited personal formation in the classroom. 

González specializes in the 20th-century intersection of labor, migration and religion in the United States with a particular focus on the history of Latino communities in the Midwest. 

“I’m honored to receive the MCC Teaching Excellence Award. In the face of efforts to dismantle liberal arts and the humanities, the Core offers an important opportunity to stay true to the tenets of a Jesuit education,” González said. “I treasure every opportunity to teach courses within the Core and work with Marquette students to prepare them to be well-rounded, engaged, and critical thinkers and doers in our communities.” 

Way Klingler Teaching Enhancement Award 

Faculty from the Department of Political Science and Department of English in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences: 

  • Dr. Amber Wichowsky, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science 
  • Dr. Amelia Zurcher, director of the University Honors Program and professor of English 

The award grants $20,000 toward their project, “Civic Conversation and the MCC Methods of Inquiry Course,” which will adapt the goals and methods of Marquette’s successful co-curricular Civic Dialogues project into the Methods of Inquiry class (CORE 1929/1929H) in the Foundations Tier of the Marquette Core Curriculum. 

The project seeks to develop an innovative, cross-disciplinary first-year curriculum to teach civic reasoning and discourse and collaborative problem-solving skills to a significant portion of first-year undergraduates at Marquette. The Committee on Teaching praised the alignment of the project with Marquette’s mission to form persons with and for others. Committee members also praised the breadth of the project’s potential benefit for students across all seven undergraduate colleges.