Faculty, staff members recognized for exceptional teaching, research and service to UMSL

2017 Chancellor's Awards

From left, Michael Allison, Jacqueline Taylor-Braxton, Michele Davis, Andrea Hupman Cadenbach, Carol DeFreese, Lucinda Vantine, Patricia Parker, Alice Hall, Bob Benson and Greg Geisler received recognition for their contributions to UMSL during the annual State of the University Address Wednesday at the J.C. Penney Auditorium. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Chancellor Tom George took time to recognize some of the outstanding contributions faculty and staff members have made to the University of Missouri–St. Louis Wednesday as the campus community gathered for the annual State of the University Address.

He awarded five faculty members and three staffers with the 2017 Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence and also bestowed on one faculty member the Gerald and Deanne Gitner Excellence in Teaching Award during a ceremony at the J.C. Penney Auditorium.

The faculty honorees are:

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creativity

Patricia G. Parker, E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor in Zoological Studies and interim director of the Harris World Ecology Center
In her dual appointment as both the senior scientist at the Saint Louis Zoo and the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Zoological Studies here at UMSL, Parker has amassed an outstanding record of productivity. The 2016 Brewster Medal Award winner has over 180 publications – many for the top journals in her field. Her work has received more than 4,000 citations, resulting in widespread recognition in scientific societies. In short, Parker is a brilliant scientist. What her students know is that she is also a brilliant mentor. She inspires them to believe in the power of their own abilities. They go on to fill important positions in academia, conservation and government. The training and guidance Parker provides quite literally spans the globe.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Gregory Geisler, professor of accounting
Geisler is a scholar whose research and nationally recognized contributions to tax education are making a profound impact on the accounting profession. He’s also a compassionate, engaged public servant who trains approximately 50 students each spring to provide free tax return preparation services to members of our community who need it most. Nowhere, however, is Geisler’s impact more profound than in the classroom. He genuinely cares about the success of his students. The respect he shows them is returned tenfold. As one student said of Gesiler, “He is such an amazing teacher of his subject, that he turned my fear of it into passion. He is a great professor, but an even better person.”

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Campus Service

Alice Hall, associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Media
As chair of the Department of Communication and Media, Hall is tirelessly committed to the welfare of her colleagues and her students. Known for her ability to see ten steps ahead when devising any plan of action, she brings a culture of excellence to her department and leads by example in her service record. As part of UMSL’s Faculty Senate, Hall is dedicated to building transparent and effective institutional structures. As a member of the campus Institutional Review Board, her expertise ensures student research is ethically sound. Her students and colleagues seek her out as a trusted source of guidance because she brings a collaborative, open, generous spirit to everything she does.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence to a Non-Tenure Track Faculty Member

Michael T. Allison, teaching professor of economics
An extraordinary colleague. Patient, supportive, thoughtful, wise. That’s how the UMSL community describes Allison. They say that it’s hard to tell where his teaching job ends and his service role begins – because the two are so intricately intertwined. A constant fixture at Faculty Senate meetings, Allison is one of the longest-serving committee chairs in the senate’s history. His oversight has positively influenced curriculum and instruction at UMSL not only for the present, but for years to come. Allison also serves as assistant chair and director of undergraduate advising in the economics department. He focuses on the combination of a student’s goals, background and other obligations to develop a plan that helps them excel. His main concern is always his students’ success.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence to a Part-Time Faculty Member

Carol DeFreese, adjunct instructor of mathematics and computer science
In her teaching statement, DeFreese proclaims math to be a tremendously rich subject with amazing applications. For nearly 30 years, she’s been making that subject come alive for students at UMSL. During much of that time, she was also a full-time teacher of middle and high school students in the Fort Zumwalt school district. It’s that wealth of experience that helps make her one of the best preparers of future math teachers UMSL has ever seen. Known for her creativity and innovation – including the flipped classroom model she uses to keep classes engaged in ways they’ve never experienced before – DeFreese represents the best in teaching.

Gerald and Deanne Gitner Excellence in Teaching Award, which is presented annually to a faculty member in the early years of their career – someone who shows great promise in their scholarship and exemplary devotion to the students they teach

Andrea Hupman Cadenbach, assistant professor of supply chain and analytics
Hupman Cadenbach’s colleagues say the energy she brings to her teaching and scholarship has completely transformed the Supply Chain & Analytics Department in the College of Business Administration. They credit her with revolutionizing the way the department teaches analytics and statistics – with taking challenging material and making it more approachable and exciting. Hupman Cadenbach extends learning far beyond the traditional walls of the classroom. She uses a student-centered, creative approach to demonstrate how topics at hand can be applied in business and everyday life. Her curiosity, warmth and guidance foster an environment where students can become lifelong, self-directed learners who know how to succeed in today’s rapidly changing world.

The staff honorees are:

Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence in the administrative/professional category

Lucinda R. Vantine, director of University Events
As the director of University Events, Vantine showcases the best that the university has to offer. The level of devotion she displays is nothing short of remarkable. Vantine brings her passion, attention to detail and commitment to excellence to bear on each commencement ceremony, Founders Dinner, State of the University Address and any one of the more than 45 other events she produces each year. She’s made a name for herself as the ultimate “go-to” person at UMSL – as a consummate professional who conducts herself with grace and great dignity. For 34 years, she’s been everywhere, ready for anything. When she retires after one final commencement weekend in December, UMSL simply will not be the same without her.

Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence in the office/technical category

Michelle Monique Davis, office support assistant in the Department of Theatre and Cinema Arts
As the main contact for the Arts Administration Building, Davis can be found assisting as many as four different campus units on any given day. She has helped usher her colleagues in the Theatre and Cinema Arts Department through a multitude of transitions in recent years, and she’s done it all with the intellect, humor and integrity that have come to be synonymous with her work. Wise, calm, able to handle anything that comes her way without skipping a beat – Davis is also someone who takes the recruitment and retention of students to heart. The relationships she builds with them and their families are extraordinary. More than an administrative assistant, she is a social worker, a counselor, a mother, a confidant. UMSL would not be the successful institution that it is without people like Davis.

Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence in the service/maintenance category

Jacqueline Denise Taylor-Braxton, custodian in MSC Building Operations
Taylor-Braxton is the kind of coworker everyone wants. She does far more than serve and maintain the J.C. Penney Conference Center and other facilities at UMSL. She uses her engaging, energetic spirit to make UMSL a welcoming place for absolutely everyone she meets. Whether she’s walking side by side with lost and confused students to their destination on campus, warmly holding the door for guests at an event or coming in early in the morning to ensure facilities are clean and safe, Taylor-Braxton performs a multitude of tasks every day that make everyone else’s days better. They aren’t all in her job description. She chooses to do them because, at her core, she’s a pleasant, positive, helpful person at every moment. Her work ethic is surpassed only by her true, genuine regard for others.

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