The University of Alaska Southeast announced Friday the 2014 recipients of its Faculty Excellence Award. This year’s awardees are:
Excellence in Teaching – Kitty LaBounty, M.S., Assistant Professor of Biology
Assistant Professor Kitty LaBounty from the UAS Sitka Campus has distinguished herself over the past year with excellence in teaching (both local and virtual) and in providing credit and non-credit learning opportunities for both undergraduates and community members. She is a well-respected science educator with over 11 years of teaching experience at the undergraduate level. Over the past year Professor LaBounty has done an outstanding job working effectively with non-traditional, ethnically diverse, and under-prepared students. She has a wonderful gift for getting students of any age excited about science and the natural world. One of her students states, “I so enjoyed taking this class with Professor LaBounty. At first I was anxious, but she ALWAYS had an open door policy and I felt like she does her best to make herself available for questions.”
Excellence in Advising – Jeffrey Lofthus, PhD, Associate Professor of Education
Dr. Jeffrey Lofthus is well connected and widely-known in Alaska’s educational circles as a faculty member and advisor devoted to student success. In his earlier faculty role with the UAS Educational Leadership Program, he advised many educational professionals seeking to become administrators. In his current faculty role with the UAS Elementary Education program, he is well known for going above and beyond with student advising; devoting countless hours of work and energy in helping undergraduate education students. “Outside of school,” says one student, “Dr. Lofthus has become one of my most valued mentors. I know that I can approach him with any question, and he will most definitely find me an answer.” This is a common sentiment shared by many of his students, who have obviously benefited greatly from his dedicated advising.
Excellence in Adjunct Instruction – Zachary Jones, Adjunct Instructor of History
Adjunct Professor Zachary Jones and Archivist with the Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau, has been teaching special topics history and anthropology courses at UAS since spring of 2010. Students consistently give him highly positive comments for his Archives & Museums: Theory & Practice course and internship program at UAS. Said one student, “Professor Jones really is one of the kindest and most knowledgeable instructors I have had at UAS. His knowledge as a Southeast Alaska historian greatly added to the reading list, which was well selected. I would take his courses again and again.” Professor Jones’ role as an adjunct faculty member is a very positive expression of ongoing collaboration between UAS and Sealaska Heritage Institute, which focuses on indigenous languages, arts, and cultures of Southeast Alaska.
Excellence in Research – Amanda Sesko, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Since arriving at UAS in the fall of 2012, Dr. Amanda Sesko has been one of the most productive faculty members in the School of Arts and Sciences in conducting research and publishing her results. This year alone she has published two articles in The Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology. As an experimentally-oriented social psychologist, Dr. Sesko has created her own research lab that provides opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands on experience conducting interviews. A colleague observes that, “Dr. Sesko works hard not only on her own research, but she also works hard to inspire and instruct students toward developing their own research interests.” Dr. Sesko is also actively involved in the UAS Faculty Senate where she is an effective advocate for promoting faculty research and creative expression.
Excellence in Service – Michael Stekoll, PhD, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Dr. Mike Stekoll is a veteran faculty member whose dedication to excellence and to UAS as an institution is unquestioned. With over 35 years of university service, he has been an energetic leader and a fountain of knowledge for young faculty who need to learn the inner workings of UAS. He served as Faculty Senate President and is recognized as a faculty leader throughout Alaska. He is known for his ability to dissect issues efficiently and correctly—qualities he has repeatedly put to good use on UAS’ behalf. In his academic discipline, Dr. Stekoll regularly responds to inquiries from colleagues across Alaska and around the world about the Southeast Alaska marine environment—especially sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of algae and seaweeds and his work in the areas of aquaculture and marine pollution. Dr. Stekoll’s career demonstrates the value of faculty service not only to the university but to the broader communities we serve.