Candidates for Distinguished Faculty Award announced

May’s graduating seniors currently have the opportunity to vote via email for one of three faculty members nominated for the Distinguished Faculty Award.

The award, given to stimulate and reward excellence in teaching, will be presented to Jeff Parmelee, associate professor of biology; Professor of Mathematics Rick Spellerberg or Brian Steffen, professor of communication studies at Commencement.

Parmelee is in his eighth year teaching at Simpson. He has previously won two other honors awarded to faculty–the Distinguished Research Award and the Distinguished Junior Faculty Award.

Parmelee was pleased to know he was nominated by the committee.

“I’m honored,” Parmelee said. “I love teaching and always get excited about what I teach. It’s great to be recognized like this.”

Spellerberg, currently in his 14th year teaching at Simpson, has never received the award.

Spellerberg was surprised to know he was chosen by the committee and credits the nomination to those involved with the Math Department.

“The students are having amazing opportunities,” Spellerberg said. “These opportunities are a direct result of the total team effort from my colleagues, and I happened to be the lucky one nominated.”

Steffen won the award in 2002 and is honored to be nominated again.

“It’s the best award I can receive,” Steffen said. “I’ve been here for almost 20 years and I love what I do, and I love doing it here at Simpson.”

Senior Emily Salberg, senior class president, estimates they had approximately 20-to-25 different professors nominated from 65 responses. Salberg, seniors Ashley Hopp and Nicole Cleveringa, as well as the previous three award winners, chose three faculty members on behalf of students whom they felt deserved the award.

“It wasn’t a popularity contest,” Salberg said. “It was about what students and faculty had to say about them.”

Last month, the campus community could nominate any faculty member from the 50-person list of appointed associate or full professors who hold regular non-terminal contracts and will teach at Simpson or be on sabbatical the subsequent year.

Salberg said the candidates share common characteristics according to comments written by students.

“A lot of the students said they’re willing to take the time [to] work with them, and they learned more than just about their major, but also about careers and the field,” Salberg said. “They’ve taken a lot of personal time to help students which we thought was a big thing.”

Presented since 1986, the winner will receive a stipend of $1,000 and a plaque in honor of recognition. The most recent years’ winners include professors from the English, History and Management Departments.

According to criteria, each candidate should be recognized by students and faculty as having demonstrated “outstanding ability as a classroom teacher, concern for students’ personal development, enhancement of high academic standards, and support of Simpson College’s goals through attitude and performance.”

Hopp feels the committee chose candidates that satisfy the campus community.

“It’s a good representation on what the student body voted on,” Hopp said. “I’ve only had class with one but have heard great things about the other two.”