Nine Northern Michigan University faculty members were honored at the Dec. 6 Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship celebration. Award recipients were: Gary Brunswick and Jon Sherman, Excellence in Teaching; Marek Haltof and James Strain, Excellence in Scholarship; David Donovan and Jessica Thompson, Excellence in Leadership; Shirley Brozzo, Excellence in Part-time Faculty Teaching; Stacy Boyer-Davis, Excellence in Online Teaching; and Mounia Ziat, Technology Innovation.
Brunswick has been a full-time faculty member at NMU since 1991 and has earned a number of distinguished teaching and faculty awards. He also was selected by graduating seniors to be the faculty/staff commencement speaker at the Dec. 15 ceremony.
“I consider it a privilege to do what I do,” he said. “I wake up every day and think of how fortunate I am to be here.”
Sherman came to NMU in 2008. He has taught a variety of classes, including all levels of German language, culture and literature. He also teaches Honors courses focusing on literature thousands of years old through modern times, Viking mythology and Austrian crime fiction.
Sherman thanked the university, the NMU administration and his teaching colleagues at the ceremony, stating, “It’s a pleasure to be here and to be honored.”
Since joining the NMU English faculty in 2001, Haltof has published several books in English and Polish on the cultural histories of Central European and Australian film. His recent books include “Screening Auschwitz: Wanda Jakubowska's The Last Stage and the Politics of Commemoration (2018),” “Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema (2015),” and “Polish Film and the Holocaust: Politics and Memory (2012).”
“I would like to thank the university for supporting my research with generous grants and to the English department for nominating me for this award,” he said.
Strain has served on the music department faculty since 1997. He is the timpanist and principal percussionist for the Marquette Symphony Orchestra. Strain has contributed extensively as a scholar in percussion performance. As historian for the Percussive Arts Society, he is considered the world’s foremost authority on percussion instruments, performers and literature.
“I’d like to thank committees that help fund sabbaticals and research,” Strain said. “It’s because of this that the faculty are able to do things that support not only our knowledge, but the students’ knowledge.”
Donovan is head of the NMU Physics Department. He joined NMU in 1992 and was the physics representative to the Academic Senate for 13 years, including a year on the executive committee. He also served on the AAUP Bargaining Council/ Faculty Council from 2000-2016. In recent years, Donovan was part of the group that created the new General Education Program and served on the Academic Task Force of the Strategic Resource Allocation project.
“Leadership’s a funny thing to think about,” Donovan said. “I just see problems and try to figure out what I can do to solve them. I’ve gotten to work with fantastic people, including the last two years on the SRA Academic Task Force. It’s a challenging time, but it’s a special group of people who make it all worthwhile. On a personal note, it’s nice to work with people at Northern who are so committed to their jobs and the students.
Thompson is an NMU alumna who returned to teach at her alma mater in 2012. Beyond the Communication and Performance Studies Department, Thompson has served on NMU’s Faculty Grants Committee, helped to create the Northern Climate Change Network and continues to lead our Sustainability Advisory Council. Her commitment to institutional leadership through openness and diversity in decision-making is exemplified by her co-chairing the AQIP Transparency Action Project, participating on NMU’s Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Council and serving as the official scribe for the SRA Academic Task Force.
“This means a lot to be recognized among so many deserving and impressive faculty,” Thompson said. “I am grateful for all the opportunities that Northern has provided since I was an undergraduate here.”
Brozzo, an enrolled member of the Keweenaw Bay Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a contingent professor with the Center for Native American Studies (CNAS). She also serves as associate director of NMU’s Multicultural Education and Resource Center. Brozzo has had more than 40 short stories, poems, essays, and academic papers published both nationally and internationally.
“I want to thank all of the colleagues I’ve worked with through the many years I’ve been here,” Brozzo said. “I transferred in from a community college over 30 years ago as a student and I just couldn’t leave.”
Boyer-Davis is in her second year teaching for the College of Business and has more than two decades of accounting experience in both the private and public sectors. She completed the Online Teaching Fellows program and embraces the Quality Matters standards to continue enhancing her teaching skills. Boyer-Davis incorporates cutting-edge technologies in the learning space to engage students across the globe and is committed to bringing rigorous, interactive learning to NMU’s distance education students. She said about 30 percent of the U.S. college student population is enrolled in some form of distance or online education.
“Some claim that student engagement in an online environment can be a challenge or tenuous; I beg to differ,” she said. “With the right blend of innovation, imagination, well-designed course materials and instructional strategies, and the promotion of a supportive learning environment, the online forum can be the technological recipe for student impact and success. As the first recipient of the Excellence in Online Teaching award, my pledge is to continue to advance the quality and scope of online and blended education to enhance student learning outcomes, access, and student satisfaction and to achieve the College of Business mission.”
Ziat came to NMU in 2011. She has published a number of papers and given many conference presentations and demonstrations related to her research on how humans interact with computers and machines and how the brain processes touch information. She received NMU’s Excellence in Scholarship Award in 2015 and NMU's Technology Innovation Award in 2016. Ziat was unable to attend the Dec. 6 awards presentation.