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Awards & Honors

2015-2016 Faculty Awards

Winners were selected by the college’s Honors and Awards committee and presented by dean Tony Roark. They were selected for overall excellence in teaching, research and service to the community.

“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.

This year’s honorees, and select comments from the awards committee are:

Distinguished Faculty Award- Jacky O’Connor (English)


Jacky O’Connor is a professor in the Department of English, where she has taught since 2001. In addition to several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, O’Connor has written three scholarly books on American literature and drama, with the last two books completed during her tenure at Boise State. O’Connor is known internationally for her expertise on the American playwright Tennessee Williams. Her latest book, Law and Sexuality in Tennessee Williams’s Postwar America, will be published in 2016 by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. O’Connor’s research and her teaching have been supported by several local, regional and national grants. A prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities supported her teaching on the question of “What is justice?” Another grant supported her teaching of an Intensive Semester Learning Experience (ISLE) course on digitally mapping the life of Tennessee Williams, which attracted grad students and undergraduates from several majors. Jacky has served the English department as director of literature and humanities and interim director of the MA in English, and she served the university as an undergraduate curriculum revision facilitator in 2010–11.

Distinguished Faculty Award- Ken Cornell (Chemistry and Biochemistry)


Ken Cornell is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In the area of research, he maintains one of the largest research groups in the department. Since joining the department in 2004, Cornell has authored 19 peer-reviewed articles. He was successful in acquiring over $2 million in research funding for research and equipment. In the area of service, Cornell helped establish the department’s graduate program, and he has served as the graduate coordinator for the M.S. degree in chemistry for five years. He served as chair of the University Biosafety Committee and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and is serving as the associate director of the Biomolecular Research Center (BRC). In the area of teaching, Cornell consistently receives excellent student evaluations. He elects to teach more classes than his substantial service and research activities require. In addition, he initiated and developed a large-lecture Biochemistry course to meet the increasing demand for the course among non-chemistry majors.

Distinguished Faculty Award- Mark Schmitz (Geosciences)


Mark Schmitz is a professor in the Department of Geosciences. In research, Mark is outstanding among his peers. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts, with many of them considered well-cited and high-impact publications. He co-edited a multi-volume reference collection called The Geologic Time Scale 2012, which has won awards and has been cited nearly 1,000 times to date. Schmitz has supported his research with regular funding from the National Science Foundation, including $2.7 million in the past 10 years. Most significantly, he received two Major Research Instrumentation awards from the NSF to build a lab recognized world-wide as a premier facility for analyzing radiogenic isotopes using thermal ionization mass spectrometry. He is currently in the final stages of arranging with the NSF to become a national center for analysis of radiogenic isotopes. In addition to his impressive grants work, Schmitz convened the IsoAstro Geochronology Workshop in August of 2014 to bring together researchers from 28 institutions and 8 countries to integrate international efforts in his field. While other researchers at his level tend to reduce their teaching loads, Schmitz maintains one of the highest teaching loads in the department.

Distinguished Adjunct Award- Tracy Sunderland (Theatre Arts)


Tracy Sunderland has served the Department of Theatre Arts as an adjunct instructor since 1999. Sunderland is a longtime instructor of two popular general-education courses, Introduction to Theatre and Cinema History and Aesthetics. Recently, she has added courses in acting for theatre arts majors to her teaching repertoire. Sunderland is an associate artist for Boise Contemporary Theatre and a theater professional with many credits on her resume, including numerous acting credits, several shows directed, and three plays written or co-written. In addition, Sunderland helped establish a relationship between Boise State University and the SITI Company of New York City that has brought SITI to Boise for week-long training seminars each of the past six years. Sunderland inspires students to excellence in the classroom and on the stage, and she has served the theatre arts department with distinction for many years.