The Washington State University Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA) hosted a spring event where numerous, diverse awards were presented to faculty, staff, and students for their outstanding accomplishments throughout the 2021-22 academic year. “The efforts made by dedicated, engaged team members and individuals impact the student success of every student at our university, and it’s an honor for DAESA to recognize many of those who made exceptional contributions,” said William B. Davis, interim vice provost.

PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA) hosted a spring event where numerous, diverse awards were presented to faculty, staff, and students for their outstanding accomplishments throughout the 2021-22 academic year.

“The efforts made by dedicated, engaged team members and individuals impact the student success of every student at our university, and it’s an honor for DAESA to recognize many of those who made exceptional contributions,” said William B. Davis, interim vice provost.

The awards were presented by DAESA and its 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 (OAE), First-year Programs, the Distinguished Scholarships Program, the Writing Program, and the Office of Undergraduate Research.

DAESA’s 2021-22 awards are the following:


The Richard G. Law Excellence Award for Undergraduate Teaching honors UCORE faculty on every campus who help undergraduates progress toward achieving WSU Learning Goals and Outcomes. The selection committee was impressed with how both awardees developed and refined innovative, student-centered pedagogies, ones that are process-oriented, collaborative, experiential, and curiosity-driven. The committee said that both exhibit sustained exemplary standards for undergraduate education at WSU. Law awards were presented to:

  • Tahira Probst, psychology professor at WSU Vancouver
  • Anna Whitehall, human development professor at WSU Pullman

The UCORE Ambassador Award honors those who carry the spirit of general education to the WSU community. This year’s awardee is the ASWSU representative to the UCORE Committee, and has been attentive to, and involved in, a proposal to create an equity and justice requirement, among other UCORE matters. It was presented to:

  • Ella Kisor, international business and Spanish major in the Honors College

ASCC’s College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) Level I certifications were presented to these peer mentors who completed special coursework plus more than 25 hours of active tutoring:

  • Sandra Auttelet, physics major
  • Jade Chamberlin, mechanical engineering major
  • Kace Cottam, computer science major
  • Dylan Deblasio, economic sciences and finance major
  • Taylor Gagliardi, biology major
  • Hunter Gedicke, physics major
  • Mollee Gray, neuroscience major
  • Joe McReynolds, chemical engineering major
  • Amaya Pelagio, psychology major
  • Halen Walker, material sciences engineering major
  • Katy Zaharov, bioengineering major

The Transfer Champion Faculty/Staff Award honors those who work with internal and external stakeholders to break down barriers and showcase successful, equitable transfer pathways and transitions for students. This year’s awardee has been an instrumental partner in those efforts, and brought fresh, innovative ideas to the table with a determination to see things through. It was presented to:

  • Ranene Royer, senior admissions counselor/transfer lead in the Office of Admissions

The OAE Staff Excellence Award heralds the team member whose exceptional contributions of the past year have advanced student success, and who exemplifies the characteristic spirit of its community. The awardee is credited with having a passion and dedication that has been indispensable over the past year, being an innovative team leader, establishing partnerships across campuses, and more.  It was presented to:

  • Oscar Martinez, coordinator of the Veterans Student Support Services program, part of the College Success Programs team

The Learning Communities Excellence Award honors First-year Focus faculty who make collaborative and significant efforts to help entering freshmen make meaningful connections with their peers and faculty, and with the new ideas and experiences they encounter. The award recipient offered students “beyond-class projects that were among the most intensive and elaborate of any attempted in First-year Focus through the years.” It was presented to:

  • Karen Phoenix, history professor

The Common Reading Excellence Award recognizes exceptional efforts surrounding the use of the year’s shared text to create dialogue within and beyond classrooms on topics raised in the book. The awardee was recognized for putting together a reference library guide for each year’s common reading book, which helped faculty and students alike to focus discussions and discover relevant topics. It was presented to:

  • Corey Johnson, WSU Libraries faculty

The Distinguished Scholarships Ambassador Award recognizes valuable contributions made to the program and the student applicants it supports. The award recipient has been an active member of the Fulbright Review Committee, and a thorough and thoughtful advocate to applicants for several types of prestigious, nationally competitive awards. The award went to:

  • Nicholas Lovrich, Emeritus Regents Professor in politics, philosophy, and public affairs

The Writing Program’s Harold and Jeanne Rounds Olsen Award for Outstanding Contributions to Writing Center Initiatives recognizes consultants who made tremendous impacts on the center and its clients, and for keeping the program steady and effective both when WSU classes and services were remote as well as in-person. It was presented to:

  • Jelani Christopher, political science major
  • Brianna Halter, psychology major
  • Josh Latella, math education major
  • Ally Pang, English and creative writing major
  • Taija Williams-Adams, creative writing major 

The Recognition of Excellence in Support of Undergraduate Research Award honors those who support undergraduate research programming and students in unique and important ways. The awardees were credited with making tremendous impacts as individuals and as a team, for providing wide-ranging and highly skilled technological and website support to undergraduate-research efforts, and for providing detailed and ever-evolving professional assistance in multiple instances. It was presented to:

  • Javier Garza, DAESA information systems manager
  • Bryan Herron, DAESA information systems manager
  • Daniel Rieck, DAESA web coordinator and developer

Media contacts: Bill Davis, Interim Vice Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Achievement, 509-335-3995, wbdavis@wsu.edu

Beverly Makhani, DAESA Director of Communications and Marketing, 509-432-3430, makhani@wsu.edu

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