WSU DAESA Announces 2021 Division Awards to Faculty, Staff, and Students

PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA) celebrated faculty, staff, and students whose contributions through academic year 2020-21 promoted students, teaching, and learning success and excellence university wide. The awards announced are being made by DAESA units that include the University Common Requirements (UCORE) program, the Academic Success and Career Center (ASCC), the Transfer Center for Policy and Resources, the Office of Academic Engagement, and First-Year Programs.

University Common Requirements (UCORE)

The Richard G. Law Excellence Award for Undergraduate Teaching is presented to Allyson Beall King, scholarly associate professor and associate director of undergraduate programs in the School of the Environment in the College of Arts and Sciences.

King is commended for having developed and refined an innovative student-centered pedagogy that is process-oriented, collaborative, experiential, and curiosity-driven. The award selection committee noted her attention to issues of belonging, equity, and retention, and that she places top priority on welcoming non-majors into the world of environmental science.

“This truly embodies the spirit of general education,” said Clif Stratton, University Common Requirements (UCORE) director, in his letter of congratulations to King. “Congratulations on sustaining exemplary standards for undergraduate education at WSU.”

The annual Law Award was first made in 2013 and has been given previously to 9 faculty who teach University Common Requirements (UCORE) general education courses across university disciplines. It is named in honor of retired professor Dick Law, who lead WSU general education from 1990 to 2009. It values the important role played by faculty to help undergraduates attain the WSU Learning Goals and Outcomes, especially outside their major area of study.

The University Common Requirements (UCORE) Ambassador Award is presented to Allen C. Sutton, executive director of the Office of Outreach and Education in the Division of Student Affairs.

Stratton applauded Sutton for his partnership with UCORE over the past year. In Summer 2020, the two leaders collaborated on the creation of an Equity 360 student certificate program, the structure of which includes UCORE coursework in diversity—one of the WSU Learning Goals. The certificate program is run by OOE.

Equity 360, which concludes its pilot phase this spring, promises to be clear and intentional about connections between curricular and co-curricular learning, and helps UCORE advance its growing mission to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in general education coursework, Stratton said.

“UCORE is honored to partner with Sutton’s office, and we look forward to supporting the enhancement and expansion of Equity 360 in the near future.”

Academic Success and Career Center (ASCC)

Terese King, director of the Academic Success and Career Center (ASCC), said that four student tutors have achieved through the College Reading and Learning Association their CRLA Level I certification for the 2020-21 academic year. They obtained more than 10 hours of training through a UNIV 497 course and accumulated more than 25 hours of active training. The students, in alphabetical order by last name, and their major(s) are:

  • Kace Cottam, computer science
  • Dylan DeBlasio, economics
  • Emily Kindelberger, biochemistry
  • Katherina Zaharov, bioengineering and pre-med

ASCC also announced that the WSU Student Employee of the Year award is presented to Lauren Doll, communications assistant for College Access Programs (CAP) in the Office of Academic Engagement. Doll is an apparel, merchandising, design, and textiles major and communications minor from Bellingham. Her tasks for OAE include oversight of multiple social media channels and production of a popular podcast series, Coug Cast.

Her nominator is Ray Acuña-Luna, CAP director, who said, “Lauren quickly evaluated her role and tasks, developed a marketing plan, scrapped initiatives that were not working, and implemented new and innovative ways to reach our audiences. She keeps clear outlines of her work assignments, produces reports, and asks for clarification as needed.”

He complimented Doll’s ability to learn quickly, think critically, be professional, demonstrate a high standard of work ethic, and turn ideas into actions despite inherent challenges brought about during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as working in an online environment rather than in the physical office. He said that Lauren contributed quickly to the team dynamic in the office and is open, inclusive, and sensitive to individual needs.

Transfer Center for Policy and Resources
(formerly Transfer Clearinghouse)

Waylon Safranski, director of the Transfer Center for Policy and Resources, said the The Transfer Champion Faculty/Staff Award goes to Colette Casavant for her efforts to address and meet the needs of transfer students. She is the director of student success for the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences academic programs. She has led the way on transfer-friendly webpages for prospects and dropped by the UNIV 304 transfer student seminar to meet new transfer students. When asked why she likes working with transfer students, she said, “Each student’s journey to WSU is unique. Every student has a different goal, passion, and dream. I am blessed to share a piece of their story, listen to or help them discover their passion, and support them in attaining their dream.”

Heather Reyes, center coordinator, said the Transfer Champion Student Award is presented to Sinai Hernandez-Espinoza, a junior architectural studies major. Since transferring to WSU from Wenatchee Valley College in fall 2020, she has shown great interest in getting involved and taking advantage of WSU resources. She is an orientation counselor who works for New Student Programs, and recently completed the first tier–Emerging Leaders—of the leadership program offered by The Office of Student Involvement. Sinai’s message to transfer students is to “practice self-care.”

Office of Academic Engagement

Ali Bretthauer, director of College Success Programs and winner of the 2021 Staff Excellence Award from the Office of Academic Engagement.

The Office of Academic Engagement (OAE) Staff Excellence Award is presented to Ali Bretthauer, director of College Success Programs. The award heralds the OAE team member whose exceptional contributions over the past year have advanced student success, and who exemplifies the characteristic spirit of its community.

Bretthauer’s leadership and dedication have been called “indispensable” over the past year.  She served as co-investigator in the development of three new grant programs, assumed leadership for Passport and National Student Exchange programs, and successfully oversaw expansion of a great team while collaborating with partners to meet student needs.

“She did all this while the stress and disconnect of the pandemic made everything more difficult, yet she did it with poise and confidence, providing a truly remarkable example of leadership under pressure,” said OAE Executive Director Michael Highfill. “WSU, DAESA, OAE and the programs she oversees are fortunate to have had the right person in the right place during these times. We’re grateful for her service, her willingness to face a challenge head-on, and her camaraderie as a colleague and friend.”

A colleague complimented her for going above and beyond for the department, being a professional, motivating those around her, and being a role model.

First-Year Programs

In the face of COVID-19 restrictions and required remote learning, First-Year Programs Director Karen Weathermon said that First-Year Focus (FYF) instructors were charged this year with creating additional opportunities to develop community among and connection with their students. Two exceptional FYF instructors are presented 2021 Learning Communities Excellence Award citations.

R.J. Murphy, a graduate student in English who taught English 101 within FYF both fall and spring semesters, was recognized for outstanding work. Their work is cited for standing out as being truly exceptional, from first contact with students prior to the start of the semester, to the many creative and interactive course activities, frequent one-on-one check-ins, and movie and book club gatherings Murphy offered beyond the usual time frame of class. Their creative and dedicated work with students exemplifies the community, connection, and dedication to student success that are at the heart of the very best practices in First-Year Focus.

R. Charles Weller, History 105 instructor and winner of a 2021 Learning Communities Excellence Award.

R. Charles Weller, an instructor who taught History 105 within FYF both fall and spring semesters, is a long-time FYF participant, known for exceptional work and a commitment to creating community in his classes. This year, he met with students synchronously, sent frequent encouraging emails, built community both in and following each class, and worked to integrate his students’ own life histories with the content of History 105. He was also commended for efforts in previous years to spearhead and participate in several large social events in residence halls such as lawn parties and Flapjacks with Faculty; this year, he was complimented for continuing to provide opportunities for connection through digital spaces.

Media contact: Mary F. Wack, Vice Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Achievement, 509-335-8044,

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