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2016-2017 Faculty Awards

Faculty members accept awards

Dean Tony Roark announced the 2017 College of Arts and Sciences faculty awards winners. Winners were selected by the college’s Honors and Awards committee.

The three Excellence Awards recognize faculty members who demonstrate excellence in all three of the professional arenas of the professoriate and celebrate them as colleagues who model an effective, holistic approach to teaching, scholarship, and service. Additionally, one adjunct faculty member is recognized for outstanding service and commitment. Each awardee received a plaque, $1,000, and have their photograph and Awards Committee remarks featured in the display case outside the COAS Dean’s Office.

“These awards recognize the overall excellence in contributions of their recipients, who exemplify the inspiring and dedicated work done day in and day out by all of our faculty, ” said Roark.

Below are the award winners and the remarks made at the ceremony.

Rodney ZuroevesteRodney Zuroeveste is the winner of this year’s Adjunct Teaching Award. Rodney is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Music. Director of Bands, Professor Marcellus Brown, writes that “Mr. Zuroeveste has served as the Saxophone Instructor for the Department of Music for the past four years. His work has been outstanding. Through his modeling as a world class performer and his high teaching standards in a relatively short period of time he has built one of the strongest instrument performance studios in the department.” Chair of Music, Dr. Linda Kline adds that Mr. Zuroeveste has inspired students in his classes, Introduction to Music and Introduction to Jazz. In these classes he teaches music appreciation, listening skills, and music history. Dr. Kline writes that “There has been a hearty group of saxophone students these last few years and there’s been a palpable sense of mutual respect and admiration between Rodney and his students. His course evaluations are very positive.”  She notes that she even received unsolicited letters from two parents expressing “their thanks for his devotion to good teaching.”

Prof. Brown points out that Mr. Zuroeveste “has been a dedicated recruiter for the department doubling the size of the number of saxophone majors in the department. He has brought nationally recognized performers to campus that have given numerous recitals and master classes on and off campus. He has performed as a soloist with the University Symphonic Winds two times over the past four years. This past year, one of his saxophone students won the University Orchestra “Concerto Aria Soloist Contest”. The student performed as a soloist with the University orchestra this past spring semester. Mr. Zuroeveste is the first call saxophonist with the Boise Philharmonic Symphonic Orchestra and he is the founder of the professional Boise Saxophone Quartet.”

Rodney Zuroeveste has sought the best for his students and made a remarkable contribution to Boise State University.

Bruce BallengerDr. Bruce Ballenger exemplifies a holistic approach to teaching, research, and service. His career shows a persistent long-term pattern of innovation connected with the teaching and the mentoring of graduate students. As one committee member wrote, “I was struck by the passion and admiration expressed in his letter of support from a total of seven colleagues in the Department of English. Dr. Ballenger is set to retire in 2018 after 23 years of service, and as one letter put it: ‘we will have to assign him a jersey number so that we can retire it…. there will be no filling his shoes.’”

During his tenure at Boise State, Dr. Ballenger has developed a strong national reputation in the area of writing, largely a result of the success of two best-selling textbooks, The Curious Researcher (9th edition) and The Curious Writer (5th edition). He has also published another textbook called Crafting the Truth as well as provocative, compelling essays in major publications (two examples are “The Importance of Writing Badly” and “Let’s End Thesis Tyranny”). Dr. Ballenger’s textbooks have helped to shape writing programs at numerous college campuses, extending the reach of his work beyond scholarly journal articles. He has an excellent reputation as a teacher, and has been nominated for a COAS teaching award on three separate occasions. Among other things, his teaching has focused on the radio essay, field writing, and the importance of revision.

Dr. Ballenger served for three years as the Chair of the English department, helped develop the MFA in Creative Writing, and served as director of writing from 1996-2003. He has also been invited to offer numerous writing workshops all across the nation and served on the Board of Directors for the Cabin in Boise. Dr. Ballenger is a role model in terms of impactful long-term, transformational achievements at the university, in the community, and in the discipline.

Shawn BennerDr. Shawn Benner has made dramatic contributions to Boise State and beyond in his research, teaching, and service. He is currently PI or Co-PI for projects garnering $28.25 million in grants, much of which supports the development of research infrastructure in Idaho and at Boise State. Some of that money funds his research in biogeochemistry, while another grant sponsors his research on cloud seeding for the Idaho Power Company. One of Dr. Benner’s most far-reaching contributions is to the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Peter Goodwin, the Idaho Director of the program, praises Dr. Benner for being “the single most important individual in driving the intellectual components of Idaho EPSCoR and . . . a leader in building . . . state-wide collaborations.”

Dr. Benner has published 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts (with 3 papers in Nature Geoscience, a top journal in his field). This research record is obviously impressive on its own terms, but he has also successfully integrated all three categories of performance. Graduates who have worked with him attest that he is an inventive teacher and successful mentor. He was an early proponent of the flipped classroom, and one of his graduates identifies him as his “most influential science instructor.” In terms of the transformation of the University in the area of graduate education, he has been on nearly 20 committees and is presently the main advisor for a Ph.D. student.

As one Award Committee member observes, “It is clear that [Dr. Benner] works tirelessly to serve the university in an innovative capacity.” As the institutional lead for the NSF EPSCoR, he has pioneered the development of the Human-Environmental Systems (HES) Institute in the College of Innovation and Design at Boise State. Such achievements strengthen the intellectual life of the University and enhance its public image.

Professor Raquel DavisProfessor Raquel Davis regularly provides opportunities for her students to work with her at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Contemporary Theater, Opera Idaho, and the Trey McIntyre Project. For a remarkable thirteen years, she has been the Resident Lighting Designer at the National Playwrights Conference at the O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT, one of the country’s most respected non-profit theatres and a recent recipient of the National Medal of Arts. As Richard Klautsch observed in his letter in support of her application, most designers in the contemporary theatre work on a freelance basis.  Professor Davis has distinguished herself by earning a long-term home at this most esteemed of national companies. And again, she has used her position to provide our students with artistic opportunities. She coordinated five student internships at the National Playwrights Conference over the past five summers. In addition, in spring 2016 one of her students won a national award in lighting design from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

In terms of service, Professor Davis is a leader in her department. She has participated in recruiting students for BSU, served on the COAS T&P Committee, and currently serves as chair of the University Curriculum Committee. She has also volunteered her time in less formal ways, such as assisting with the replacement of unsafe lighting at the Danny Peterson Theatre.

Professor Davis’s long history of collaborative efforts with nationally renowned directors, technicians, and actors speaks volumes, and she infuses Boise State productions with the same level of artistic excellence. As Richard Klautsch observed after working with her on a production of Little Women, her solutions to design challenges are “stunning.” He writes, “Her choice of color, her ability to enhance the mood of a particular moment, her emphases on the emotional content of each scene, and her generosity as a collaborator proved to me yet again her value as an artist and a colleague.” One Award Committee member noted that we are truly fortunate to be able to see her work on our stages because “Art . . . has the power to transform minds.” Raquel Davis plays an important role in this transformation, both nationally and at Boise State.