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College of Education > News and Publications > News: April - June 2010 > 2010 Outstanding Faculty, Staff, and Students Honored

2010 Outstanding Faculty, Staff, and Students Honored

fac_staff10.jpgby Jessie Parsons (May 2010)

The College of Education honored the achievements of its faculty, staff, and students on April 28. The 2010 Faculty, Staff, and Student Awards were hosted by Dean David Monk at the Nittany Lion Inn. The following award winners were selected based on nomination letters and their own dedication and service to the College and community:

  • Undergraduate Student Leadership & Service Award - Melissa Mueller
  • Graduate Student Recognition Award - Douglas Dexter
  • Outstanding Staff Awards - Leslie Foster and Joseph Savrock
  • Climate Enhancement Award - Gail Boldt
  • Outstanding Researcher Award - David McNaughton
  • Outstanding Teaching Award - Elizabeth Mellin
  • Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award - Barbara Van Horn


melissa_muellerNLI.jpgUndergraduate Student Leadership & Service Award


Melissa Mueller was selected as the 2010 recipient of the Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award. This award recognizes undergraduate student leaders who enhance the purpose of the College, promote leadership and service, and foster personal and professional development of peers.

Mueller is a rehabilitation and human services major, with minors in Spanish and international studies. During her time at Penn State, she has demonstrated her dedication to service through her participation in THON as lieutenant captain of the Operations Committee, LifeLink PSU, and a service trip to Haiti. Additionally, Mueller has been involved with the Rehabilitation and Human Services Student Organization as a member of the executive board and volunteer chair.

“Students in RHS SO see her as a mentor and they look to her for guidance and suggestions,” said Brandon Hunt, professor of rehabilitation and human services. “I have observed her in the classroom and outside of the classroom, and Melissa has natural leadership abilities.”

doug_dexterNLI.jpgGraduate Student Recognition Award


Douglas Dexter is the 2010 Graduate Student Recognition Award winner. This award honors a graduate student for outstanding scholarship, research, dedication to education and the promise of professional excellence.

Doug is a doctoral student in special education with a cognate in research and statistics. Besides teaching and receiving excellent SRTE student evaluation scores, his research accomplishments are extensive. With 13 works published, several presentations, and an appointment as one of five doctoral student scholars in Special Education on the U.S. Council for Exceptional Children’s Division for Research, Doug has excelled in his field of study. His focus on his cognate area of study is strong, as he has taken every course offered though the Educational Psychology Program. He was also selected to attend an NLTS-2 database training in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by the Institute of Educational Sciences and allowed him to learn from leading experts in the statistics field.

Linda Mason, associate professor of special education, said, “Doug, throughout his doctoral program at Pennsylvania State University, has exemplified the qualities required to be a leader in academia. He has set clear goals for a career in both teaching and conducting research and scholarship. His success in meeting these goals is evident in his doctoral studies and accomplishments at Penn State.”


foster_sml.jpgOutstanding Staff Awards


Both Leslie Foster and Joseph Savrock have been selected as the 2010 Outstanding Staff Award winners. This award honors staff members who contribute in significant ways to the quality of life within the College. Nominees must have at least five years of full-time employment with the College of Education.

Foster is the staff assistant for the Education Technology Center. She joined the department in October 2004. She is the primary help desk contact and manager of the videoconferencing center. In addition, she provides regular technical training on software applications used on the College’s computer systems. Her clarification and introduction of new ways to assist clients seeking IT solutions has helped to enhance the Center’s customer service.

“She is consistently pleasant, tackling all assignments with dedication and a quick smile. Over the past six years, Leslie has significantly improved the climate in our office. Her willingness to step up in any situation and provide excellent customer support is a role model for our staff,” said David Cochrane, IT manager.

savrock_sml.jpgJoseph Savrock supports two areas of the College, working as a writer and editor for the College Relations office, and editorial assistant for The American Journal of Distance Education. He helps promote the College through press releases, promotional features, brochures, reports, and Web pages that he composes and edits. With the communications and public relations industry changing constantly, Savrock keeps up with all of these transformations, embracing them as a learning experience.

“Joe’s overall contributions to the College are certainly greater than the sum of his two roles,” said Suzanne Wayne, associate director of communications. “He works at a consistently high level, with tremendous productivity, and has done much to promote the College and reflect its quality to a larger external audience. He has also done much to foster connections within the college community. His press releases and newsletters over the years have helped us all get to know our neighbors a little bit better.”


boldt_sml.jpgClimate Enhancement Award


Gail Boldt is the 2010 winner of the Climate Enhancement Award, which recognizes contributions to the pursuit of the College's diversity agenda.

Boldt, associate professor of language and literacy education, has served a leadership role in the Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC) since 2007 as the faculty leadership chair. She has worked to promote the committee and its ideals through lectures, special events, and the creation of a Facebook page.

Besides working with DCEC, Boldt is also a part of the Diversity Framework Steering Committee, which provides oversight to the College’s implementation of Penn State’s Framework to Foster Diversity 2010-2015. Through her work with search committees, she has also had an active role in recruiting diverse faculty to the College.

“Dr. Boldt sets an example for all of us,” said Jacqueline Edmondson, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies, and associate professor of language and literacy education. “She advocates on behalf of those who feel marginalized or silenced, and she demonstrates a passion and commitment for equity and fairness that is tireless.”

David McNaughton.jpgOutstanding Researcher Award


This year’s recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Researcher Award is David McNaughton. This award recognizes faculty members for exemplary performance in the conduct of research.

McNaughton, professor of special education, is a leader within the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for individuals with severe disabilities. He has an extensive list of books, publications in refereed journals, book chapters, and presentations, and he has successfully obtained over $5.1 million in external funding to support his research and graduate training programs.

Kathy Ruhl, professor and head of special education, said of McNaughton, “Dr. McNaughton’s efforts have demonstrated that this is a group who can learn to read, and reap the benefit of that skill, if their teachers are given the tools. Dr. McNaughton’s research provides a model for involving people who rely on AAC as active participants in all aspects of the research process. In particular, his efforts in the area of employment and AAC have resulted in the largest body of research on the area that has been compiled anywhere in the world, and has been extremely influential with regard to both clinical practice and scholarship.”

Because of his interdisciplinary and collaborative work with communication sciences and disorders faculty and students, McNaughton also holds a courtesy appointment with the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

“David’s research and scholarship have significantly improved the lives of thousands of individuals who never had or who have lost the ability to communicate through speech," said Gordon W. Blood, professor and department head of communication sciences and disorders. "His research intersects at the boundaries of the technology revolution and the lives of the disabled. He has been recognized not only by his national and international peers, but also by consumers of augmentative and alternative communication as an outstanding advocate, researcher and teacher.” 


Mellin_sml.jpgOutstanding Teaching Award

Elizabeth Mellin is the 2010 Outstanding Teaching Award winner. This award recognizes a faculty mentor who demonstrates teaching excellence, shows respect to all students as individuals, and creates an environment conducive to learning.

Mellin is an assistant professor of counselor education and co-advisor of the Rehabilitation and Human Services Student Organization. Her use of a wide variety of teaching styles including discussion, role-play, and lecture allow her students to learn both content and its practical application. This focus on real-life application is something that her students appreciate and speak highly of.

Mellin also incorporates innovative technology into her class, encouraging her students to do the same. She utilizes relevant video clips, podcasts, and Web-based articles, while her students are encouraged to complete their projects using blogs, vlogs, and PowerPoint presentations.

Master's student Jennifer Danese said of Mellin, “Her strong sense of the human condition and her compassion for others directly impacts her method of teaching. Liz’s instructional approach facilitates learning in an accepting, respectful, and warm atmosphere that she creates for students to share and challenge ideas openly.”


VanHorn_sml.jpgCotterill Leadership Enhancement Award


Barbara Van Horn has been selected as the recipient of the 2010 Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award. This award recognizes senior faculty or staff by providing monies to reward exemplary performance and leadership efforts.

Van Horn is co-director of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy and the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy. As co-director of these institutes, she maintains positive working relationships with existing funding agents, develops new partnerships for potential projects, oversees and guides all grants and contracts, and supervises staff. Ongoing statewide projects include, for example, an evaluation of family literacy programs and integration of basic skills with workforce and health education programs.

Van Horn’s recent work includes a study for the Center for Rural Pennsylvania that compares characteristics and outcomes of urban versus rural GED students. She is also co-editing the second edition of the Handbook of Family Literacy with Dr. Barbara Wasik of the University of North Carolina. In addition, she is serving as vice president of the National Coalition for Literacy.

“Barbara has provided the University and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with invaluable leadership thanks to her work with the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy and the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy,” said David Monk, dean of the College of Education. “This award recognizes her leadership skills and effective service to the Commonwealth, College and University, and I can think of no more deserving individual.”

The Cotterill award will enable Van Horn to attend an international conference on adult learning and literacy to explore the role of culture and beliefs in adult learning.