A Note From the Chair

CATEGORIES: April 2015

WLC on the Leaderboard!

The 2014-2015 academic year was a great one for the Department of World Languages and Cultures.  The Department taught more student credit hours and offered more diverse course offerings than in recent years; the number of majors and minors is at a record high; student induction into clubs and honor societies is equally stellar; and many, many students have been awarded a number of prestigious grants and honors.  In fact, for this academic year, the department awarded over $38,000 in student scholarships. We have featured these awardees in past newsletters, and we will continue to do so in future ones.

Since this is our last newsletter for the academic year, it seems only fitting that we end the spring semester on a high note, and tell you about faculty and staff honors.

Each year the Department nominates deserving faculty and staff for College and University Awards.  And we have been quite successful! This year six of our WLC colleagues have earned prestigious awards for their outstanding work in teaching, institutional service, and international service. Below, we share with you this year’s WLC winners for College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ awards.

Cassling Family Faculty Award

Kevin Amidon, Associate Professor of German

Since 2002, Kevin Amidon has distinguished himself as an exemplary scholar-teacher of German language and culture. His outstanding teaching portfolio includes 14 meticulously designed new courses and remarkably high evaluation averages across courses: 4.8 for overall instructor and 4.52 for overall course rating (with several superlative 5.0). His dedication to student-centered learning goes far beyond his classroom, as he works tirelessly on individualized undergraduate and graduate research projects, honors courses, and independent studies. He is also an internationally recognized scholar, whose research infuses his classes with interdisciplinary approaches, and whose curricular and extracurricular endeavors have been acknowledged nationally as a pedagogical model.

Early Achievement in Teaching

Melissa Deininger, Assistant Professor of French

A highly effective classroom instructor with an exceptionally wide range of teaching assignments, Melissa Deininger has been instrumental to the success of the entire French program at ISU. She is an innovative designer of new courses and sophisticated pedagogical materials; a faculty mentor committed to student learning beyond the classroom; and an engaged scholar of 19th century French literature and intellectual history who successfully integrates research into all her classes. A model teacher, she has the extraordinary ability to combine scholarly rigor with excellent student rapport, while maintaining an impressive 4.53 instructor average and 4.3 course average.

Institutional Service Award

Margaret Mook, Associate Professor of Classical Studies

In her twenty years on the ISU Faculty, Peggy Mook has provided indispensible service and leadership to the Program in Classical Studies, the Department of World Languages and Cultures, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the university as a whole, and her professional field. She takes exemplary responsibility for the continuous processes of institutional development and improvement that can only derive from engaged and energetic faculty service. Her careful, thorough, collegial, and thoughtful work is the kind that ensures that the university’s programs and procedures effectively embody its highest ideals.

Outstanding Teaching Award

Elisa Rizo, Associate Professor of Spanish

Since 2007, Dr.Rizo has distinguished herself as an exemplary teacher of Spanish language, as well as Latin American literatures, civilizations, and cultures. Her teaching portfolio includes 11 meticulously designed or re-designed unique new courses, several pioneering online offerings, and remarkably high evaluation averages: 4.65 for overall rating of instructor and 4.25 for overall rating of the course (with several superlative 5’s). An internationally recognized scholar with a research agenda focused on Latin America and Hispanophone Africa, Prof. Rizo infuses her teaching with diverse perspectives on the development of major historical and socio‐political events that have shaped the contemporary world.

Outstanding Teaching by a Lecturer

Thomas Waldemer, Senior Lecturer of Spanish

Since 2002, Tom Waldemer has distinguished himself as an exemplary, versatile scholar-teacher, whose excellent teaching performance has greatly enriched the Spanish, International Studies, and World Film Studies programs. His outstanding teaching portfolio includes 23 different courses, an impressive annual average teaching load of 550 SCH’s per year, and high evaluation statistics across courses: 4.3 for overall instructor and 4.1 for overall course rating. His dedication to student-centered learning goes far beyond the classroom, as he consistently makes significant instructional contributions to the department and the college of LAS through a wide variety of curricular-related service assignments.

Institutional Service Award

Julie Wilhelm, Senior Lecturer in Spanish

Julie Wilhelm’s outstanding accomplishments in teaching, professional practice, service, and outreach are all interconnected with ISU’s mission of internationalization. Named “Educator of the Year” by the Iowa World Language Association, she is an outstanding instructor of Spanish, who infuses international perspectives into all her teaching. As the Director or Co-Director of three faculty-led study abroad programs (one of which is tailored specifically to the needs of Iowa’s K-12 teachers), she has provided close to 1,000 ISU students and Iowa language educators with the opportunity to live abroad, undertake international internships, and become both bilingual and bicultural.

As you can see from the amazing accomplishments of these colleagues, the university community has recognized WLC as one of the most engaged departments on campus—and every year our faculty earn some of its highest awards.  We are proud of these accomplishments, and I am happy to announce these successes!

A heartfelt thanks goes out to the nomination committee that worked so hard on the nomination packages: Associate Chair Olga Mesropova and Kevin Amidon and Mark Looney.

If you would like to create or contribute to a student or faculty award or scholarship, please feel free to contact me at gasta@iastate.edu or (515) 294-0918.