Teaching. Scholarship. Service. These are the cornerstones of the work of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College faculty. Everyday, they empower our students to aspire higher.
During Faculty Appreciation Day on April 25, three faculty members were recognized for the exceptional work they have done this academic year in each of these areas. The recipients of the 2018 Sister Mary Joseph Pomeroy Awards for Faculty Excellence are Michael Boswell, associate professor of music and director of choirs — for service; Debra Powell, assistant professor of equine studies — for scholarship; and Yeijin Yeom, assistant professor of nursing — for teaching.
The Sister Mary Joseph Pomeroy Faculty Excellence Award began in 1990 in honor of the beloved Woods professor of English who embodied the highest ideals of teaching, scholarship and service.
“Scholarship, or the pursuit of inquiry, serves as the foundation for excellent teaching. It is through the integration of scholarship, teaching and service that our faculty are able to provide a rich educational experience for our students,” said Janet Clark, Ph.D., vice president for academic and student affairs. “Today, we recognize the work of our entire faculty, and we celebrate their many accomplishments.”
At the event, D.J. Wasmer, chairperson of the business and leadership department, received the 2018 Alumni Faculty Leadership award; Wendy Walter-Bailey, chairperson of the education department was named (club) Advisor of the Year.
Pomeroy Faculty Excellence Award for Service
A member of the faculty since 2005, Michael Boswell, MM, associate professor of music and theatre, says his daily life is shaped by “considering, serving and providing for others” which he learned at a young age from the role models of family members and grandparents.
As director of the choirs at the College and a professional ensemble singer, Boswell is often sought out by educators at the high school level as a clinician. Serving both the College and his profession, he volunteers annually at both Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo high schools working with their choirs generally before a concert or contest, and this past year also spent time with Seymour High School and Merrillville High School. He understands the importance of sharing his journey to become a professional singer with young people while simultaneously working hard as an ambassador to the College in promoting our programs and Woods experiences. He also regularly attends the Indiana State School of Music Association (ISSMA) state contest for singers in Indianapolis every February.
He also serves the community for the past five years as the treasurer for the Terre Haute Children’s Choir, a member of the Regional Advisory Committee for Art Illiana since 2011, the volunteer choir director at the Seelyville United Methodist Church for the past two years and a volunteer at the Terre Haute Community Theatre since last fall.
Boswell has also served the College in a variety of committee roles including Christmas At The Woods, The Faculty Commpensation Committee in 2011-2017, the Budget Committee in 2016-17 and a member of the Strategic Planning Marketing Committee 2015-16.
Pomeroy Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship
Debra Powell, Ph.D., assistant professor of equine studies, has been a member of the SMWC faculty since 2015. Her activities focus on teaching, learning and instructional resources in her field and developing more work-integrated environments into the curriculum.
Since arriving at SMWC, she has completed two research projects in the classroom and has presented this work on instructional pedagogy at the 2017 National Association of Equine Affiliated Academics in Minnesota. She was also accepted to present at the 2018 conference this spring in Texas. Powell is a prolific writer of articles and columns as well as textbooks. She is currently a contracted writer for two monthly periodicals that are related to her field. She wrote that in order for her to stay relevant in the industry, she has remained active among the Arabian Race Horse Industry. With those contacts, she has been invited and contracted to write a monthly column since 2014 for the Arabian Finish Line and more recently she has been invited to create equine health related articles for the magazine, Arabian Horse Life. She also was an invited panelist at the World Arabian Horse Racing Conference in 2017 in Morocco, and received a second invitation for 2018, but it overlaps with the faculty-led study abroad trip that she is leading this summer to Ireland.
Powell is the author of a textbook on the digestive anatomy and physiology to help illustrate the uniqueness of the equine digestive system. Besides SMWC, this textbook has currently been adopted by the University of Kentucky and North Caroline State University. She’s been invited to re-write and update a chapter in the 14th edition of the textbook entitled Facility Planning and Design for Health, Physical Activity, Recreation and Sport. This text is an excellent tool for professionals involved in facility planning and construction.
One of her newest endeavors is piloting a certification course in equine massage therapy for our students as well as professionals. She designed this course to be different from other equine massage classes in that she focuses more heavily on the physiology of massage instead of just technique. She is piloting the course to test the interest and possible focus in the equine curriculum.
It’s clear that all of her professional activities are connected in some way to student learning by either keeping her knowledge fresh or bringing new activities, texts or contacts to the classroom. She writes that she finds it “exhaustingly refreshing and satisfying. It is something that I love to do and will continue to do so until it no longer becomes satisfying.”
Pomeroy Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching
Yeijin Yeom, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing, has been teaching at SMWC since 2016. When asked during an interview what was most rewarding about teaching at SMWC, she replied, “Oh, it’s the students!”
Yeom teaches in the undergraduate program both on campus and online. Her syllabi are clear and organized, and she utilizes D2L for her campus courses to increase accessibility. She uses different learning activities throughout her classroom so, she is able to engage all students. She employs discussions, group projects, case studies and lectures with graphs, schematics or pictures. She also balances those with even more impactful practices such as simulations and role-playing as students prefer more life and task-based or problem based learning. She places a high importance on teaching critical thinking versus memorization as well leadership and collaboration with groups projects – all of which are crucial elements for future careers in nursing.
In order to know if she is effective, she conducts a mid-term evaluation with the students for feedback on how the course is progressing or what adjustments she might consider.
Yeom knows she is sometimes viewed as hard or challenging. She uses some standardized test questions as preparation for their licensing exam. However, she also employs some very individual feedback sessions with students and works hard to get them to feel that she is approachable. After the first round of tests in any of her courses, she makes an appointment with each one to discuss their performance and study habits or skills, make referrals to any support services that might be needed and generally indicate to them that she cares about how they are doing. She continues to offer individual meetings or small group tutoring sessions for struggling students. She also offered that she uses humor – she feels it helps alleviate the stigma of a stiff, international faculty member.
It was evident in her interview and portfolio that she is a life-long learner and continues to grow in her teaching. She was able to describe how — in just two years of teaching — she has re-arranged topics in NU220 Fundamentals of Nursing to help the flow, application and retention of knowledge to the next level. In her research class, the students become proficient at locating relevant articles and dissecting the research method or components. They also take an existing policy from a healthcare setting and update it utilizing the latest evidence-based research they can find.
This support and intentionality towards her teaching is evident in her student evaluations. Students indicate they appreciate her use of different learning styles; they describe her with adjectives such as caring, supportive, prepared and thorough.
Alumni Faculty Leadership Award
Donald J. Wasmer, MBA, DBA, professor of business and chair of the business and leadership department, has been described as being deeply rooted at The Woods. The depth of his experience, diversity of service and impact he has made across campus makes him an ideal candidate for this award. During his tenure at the College, he strives to serve the students and further the College’s mission to develop leaders.
As the department chair, he works side-by-side with the faculty to create student-centered programing. The new healthcare administration minor, continuing the 3+1 program, curricular and policy revisions, the Phi Beta Lambda Chapter, Woods Online course revisions, program assessment, the new leadership minor and countless other initiatives have been created as a team to ensure Woods students receive the best education possible. He has served on countless committees including the Honors Program committee, Graduate Council, General Studies committee, Master of Healthcare Administration advisory committee, along with teaching in the campus, Woods Online and graduate programs.
Beyond his departmental responsibilities, he has used his skills as Faculty Assembly President, co-chair of the Marketing and Outreach Strategic Planning Committee and founding director of the MLD program.
Wasmer was nominated by a student who recognized his impact is not only felt by The Woods community, but his leadership and service extends far beyond. He is an active member in the Terre Haute community, representing SMWC in all his volunteer work. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, the Vigo County Historical Society and the Business and Accounting Advisory Committee at Ivy Tech Community College. He is currently working with Launch Terre Haute to develop opportunities for students who are interested in entrepreneurship to become actively involved in the small business incubator. DJ strongly believes his board service not only makes him a better teacher but also a better role model for his students. In addition, the connections and friendships he has forged through board service have opened numerous internship and career opportunities for SMWC graduates.