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Faculty and staff award winners announced

Faculty and staff award winners announced

The 2023 Faculty & Staff Award recipients have distinguished themselves in their teaching and service to the students at Fort Lewis College. Eight faculty and staff award recipients exhibited exceptional work this year, from supporting FLC's day-to-day operations to advancing strategic initiatives. 
This year's winners include Allison Riggs, Tapati Dutta, Ayla Moore, Becky Padilla, Stella Zhu, Marnie Thomson, Timothy J. Wilson, and Sherri Spriggs.

Congratulations to all the nominees and recipients, and thank you for your incredible work and dedication!

Allison Riggs, Outstanding Staff Award
Assistant to the Dean of Student Engagement

"Allison has been a leader in Staff Council by facilitating opportunities to meet with Board of Trustee members to give feedback and coordinating student leaders and Directors at the table concerning housing, food, and other issues related to student success and retention. She also met with the State of Colorado legislature to advocate for staff sabbaticals as a way to energize, engage, and keep employees growing professionals at FLC. Allison cares about this institution. She is a role model of outstanding service. She deserves our recognition as an employee who goes above and beyond."


The Outstanding Staff Award goes to any exempt or classified staff member who has provided service over three consecutive years. The award recognizes exceptional performance in executing responsibilities, effective communication, and relationship-building with the public, colleagues, and superiors. Recipients demonstrate a genuine interest in enhancing and achieving excellence in their work and contributing to the advancement and progress of FLC as a higher education institution.

Allison Riggs arrived at FLC in 2017 and has significantly contributed to the FLC community in various capacities. Riggs demonstrates a dedication to service during her time as co-chair of FLC’s Staff Council. As co-chair, she advocated for staff needs, organized events and initiatives, and took on additional responsibilities in the Student Housing department to ensure a positive student experience. Riggs has built a deep understanding of FLC policies with a willingness to help others—a testament to her commitment to service. 

Ayla Moore, Achievement Award
Instructional Designer & Faculty Development Specialist 

"Ayla continually refines her work to be the best it can be. She never runs a professional development program for a second time without doing a thorough analysis of its value and impact on faculty, and without refining each piece to make it better. Her keen eye for detail has been such a contribution to our team and to the impact that we have been able to make with teaching excellence across campus. "


The Achievement Award is given to a member of faculty, staff, or administration with a superior record of competence, resourcefulness, and dedication; noteworthy involvement in activities that serve to advance academic, athletic, intercultural, Honors, or intramural programs; evidence of creative achievement, significant research, technical training, or professional growth; significant, innovative work that has broadened FLC's service to the students and community; and demonstrated leadership in education, social and professional programs.

Ayla Moore arrived at FLC in 1996. Since then, Moore has exhibited a collaborative, selfless, visionary, and innovative nature. She participates in learning communities, collaborates on student success initiatives, and created a Designing for Empowerment course. She has continued to go above and beyond her role, pushing the boundaries of innovation and focusing on the bright future of this institution. Moore is passionate about and committed to student success and her role as an ambassador for FLC. Most importantly, she has instilled a sense of competency and worth in her students. 

Tapati Dutta, Featured Scholar
Assistant Professor in Public Health

"Dr. Dutta, in four academic years, has adroitly advanced her scholarship productivity and efficacy to a degree that I have rarely observed in my 31 years at FLC."


The Featured Scholar award is for non-tenured, tenure-track faculty who excel in teaching and research. The award recognizes excellence in course development and delivery, student advising and mentoring, and the creation of innovative initiatives in instruction. Recipients of this award are campus touchstones for pedagogical practices in higher education. 

Making FLC her home in 2019, Dutta quickly made advancements in the public health field. In four short years, she produced a flurry of publications, artistic works, conference presentations, grant-funded research projects, student mentorship initiatives, and community-based participatory research strategies. Her research focuses on health systems and policies for sexual and reproductive health, chronic diseases, and disease prevention tools. She has also been involved in community development organizations in various countries. Dutta is also establishing a program to bolster partnerships among students, academia, and non-profit community organizations, focusing on marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Becky Padilla, Excellence in Service Award
Library Technician III

"Library resources are vital to student success in and out of the classroom. Students use our books, films, and articles for academic career preparation or leisure. Library resources also contribute to many aspects of faculty members' work at FLC, like research, pedagogy support, and curriculum support. Many of these resources used by students, faculty, and staff are only available with Becky's work. She works meticulously to ensure that students can find books and other materials on the Library website and the shelf"


The Service Excellence Award acknowledges the contributions of employees who carry out responsibilities that often go unnoticed. This staff member consistently executes duties, fills in where necessary, and approaches their work positively.

In her 30 years at FLC, Padilla has demonstrated excellence in line with FLC’s overarching mission of supporting student success. Padilla is a dedicated employee who consistently maintains a positive attitude and always goes above and beyond to ensure the library and its materials are well-maintained and easily accessible. Padilla is also known for being very thoughtful and caring towards her colleagues and students, often going out of her way to make their lives easier. She is an expert at cataloging and finding lost or missing items and has cataloged over 45,000 physical materials since she began at FLC. Padilla is an essential part of the library, and has significantly impacted the lives of those around her.

Stella Zhu, Maria Cristina Grabiel y de la Guardia Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award 
Basic Needs Coordinator

"Stella has single-handedly built the Grub Hub into a crucial and student-centered service in her year here. Her ability to provide basic needs, care, compassion, and thoughtfulness to her work is incredible. She advocates for students, has worked tirelessly on housing access, and has provided the campus with knowledge about the intersections of all of the above."


The Maria Cristina Grabiel y de la Guardia Award is named after a staff member who worked at FLC from 1998 to 2009. It recognizes staff members who show outstanding leadership and dedication to improving diversity, equity, and inclusivity across campus and acts as a driving force for change. Maria Cristina Grabiel y de la Guardia advocated for DEI efforts in the FLC and broader Durango communities. She encouraged her colleagues to embrace inclusivity and equity in all interactions and saw each of these as teachable moments. Her legacy supports social justice, and she encouraged all award recipients to follow in her footsteps by committing random acts of kindness and seeking opportunities to promote social justice.

Stella Zhu came to FLC in the spring of 2022. Since then, Zhu has overhauled the Grub Hub Food Pantry on campus. Zhu goes above and beyond in providing care and compassion to students and advocating for their needs, particularly in regard to housing and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She expanded the Grub Hub services, including tax help, SNAP program application assistance, a gender expression closet, and a professional clothing closet. She has also formed sustainable relationships with community members, such as farmers and non-profits, to provide support from beyond campus. 

Marnie Thomson, Ginny Hutchins Teaching Award for New Faculty
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

"Dr. Thomson makes sure that students know her door is always open, and she cares about their wellbeing; she encourages them to check in with her regularly. She connects students with campus resources and checks on students she has referred to the Student Wellness Team."


The Ginny Hutchins Teaching Award for New Faculty focuses on excellence in teaching. The recipients are selected based on input from faculty and student testimonials. The award celebrates exceptional course development and delivery, outstanding student advising and mentoring, and inventive and innovative teaching approaches or initiatives.

Beginning her FLC career in 2020, Thomson set out to engage students in all her classes. She developed many creative and effective class activities that connect students with issues and people beyond the classroom. Thomson produced an engaging, innovative, and student-centered teaching style through these practices. She dedicated herself to fostering supportive relationships with her students and helping them succeed academically and personally. Thomson's contributions to the university include directing the Ethnographic Field School in Tanzania, conducting research with students on topics such as gender and international aid, and securing a bigger campus space for the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center. 

Timothy J Wilson, Outstanding New Staff Award
Electrical Trades II

"Wilson is always advancing his technical knowledge and skills to do his work at FLC and have a greater impact. He places customer service at the forefront of his work. He strives to keep students safe and comfortable in their campus homes and classrooms and quickly responds to their needs. Wilson is always eager to implement new technologies for energy efficiency that helps to advance our institution into a more sustainable place to learn, live, and work."


The Outstanding New Staff Award is given to a staff member who has worked at FLC for less than three years and has substantially contributed to their department or office. Along with achieving exceptional performance in their responsibilities, they have also improved procedures and shown enthusiasm and dedication to FLC and its objectives.

Since starting his position in 2020, Timothy Wilson, an electrician, has demonstrated exceptional job knowledge, reliability, and commitment to the FLC’s mission. Wilson advanced FLC’s sustainability efforts through energy-efficient lighting upgrades and the implementation of new technologies. He has demonstrated great customer service and is known for responding quickly to campus needs. Wilson’s dedication to his work is evident, as he has built upon his skill set to serve FLC better. 

Sherri Spriggs, Kathy Wellborn Teaching Award
Senior Lecturer for the Mathematics Department

"Sherri is a consummate professional; she gets her grading done promptly, provides constructive feedback to colleagues, and answers emails faster than anyone I know, despite being a busy mother of triplets. I also appreciate that she continually assesses the needs of our students, strives to meet them where they are, and embraces pedagogies that move them where they need to be."


The Kathy Wellborn Award acknowledges the contributions of lecturers and part-time instructors who have taught at FLC for multiple semesters. It is specifically for non-tenure-track faculty. It is named after Kathy Wellborn, a former instructor known for outstanding teaching and mentoring skills in the Transitional Studies and First-Year Math Programs. The award recipient is someone who excels in classroom teaching and has a positive relationship with their students.

Since 2004, Sherri Spriggs has contributed greatly to FLC. She has served as a model for other instructors in the Mathematics Department. Specifically, she redesigned the introductory statistics curriculum, created resources for faculty, and responded quickly to student requests for help. By all accounts, Spriggs is a clear and friendly instructor and makes math fun for her students.


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