The 2021 Faculty & Staff Award recipients have distinguished themselves in their teaching and service to the students at Fort Lewis College. From supporting the day-to-day operations of the College with innovation and excellence to taking on extra responsibilities during the pandemic, faculty and staff showed immense care for students and colleagues and exhibited exceptional work.
Several faculty and staff from departments across campus were nominated for this year’s awards—congratulations to all the nominees and recipients and thank you for your incredible work and dedication!
Jason Wagner, Excellence in Service Award
Physics & Engineering Shop Manager
The Excellence in Service Award celebrates the contributions of employees often completing responsibilities “behind the scenes.” This staff member has consistent excellence in the performance of duties, stepping in where needed, and maintaining a positive approach to their work.
In his three years at FLC, Jason Wagner has transformed the operations of the numerous Physics & Engineering shops on campus, implementing safety protocols and improving student access. Students and colleagues appreciate Wagner’s background as a machinist, mechanic, and practicing engineer, as well as a former FLC student. He’s been critical to the success of many unique projects, including working behind the scenes of learning events, as a professional partner and mentor for Village Aid Project, and helping manage community volunteers who rapidly produced and delivered personal protective equipment last spring at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"He is a truly a valued department member, a critical resource, and exceptional person. The broader impacts of Jason’s presence are tremendous, not only at FLC but in our community."
Brian Burke, Ph.D., Alice Admire Outstanding Teaching Award
Professor of Psychology
The Alice Admire Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes excellence in classroom teaching that includes a demonstrated success in interpersonal relationships with students, showing genuine concern for their personal and social development along with their academic progress.
Brian Burke, Ph.D., joined FLC in 2003. He is a clinical psychologist whose research interests include motivational interviewing, terror management theory, and college teaching. His passion for psychology is contagious and he actively engages his students in skills development through hands-on learning and experiences in the community. Burke believes in his students, showing empathy and care for their well-being outside of the classroom and empowering them to make a difference.
"His teaching philosophy centers around an unconditional belief in his students’ ability to succeed, both professionally and personally. I can confidently say that his endless encouragement played a significant role in shaping me into the empowered student and person I am today."
Kate Suazo (Psychology, ’17), Maria Cristina Grabiel y de la Guardia Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Award
Professional Advocate and Case Manager, FLC Counseling Center
Named after Maria Cristina Grabiel y de la Guardia, a staff member at FLC from 1998 – 2009, this award acknowledges a staff member who demonstrates superior leadership and commitment to the enhancement, development and sustainability of diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence across campus, and is a catalyst for change regarding DEI across campus. Maria Cristina Grabiel y de la Guardia led the College and greater Durango community in DEI efforts. Grabiel cultivated a sense of pride and was an ally among students and saw every interaction with colleagues as a teachable moment to foster inclusive and equitable practices in our community. She would encourage all recipients of this award to “continue committing random acts of kindness and seek opportunities to encourage and support social justice.”
FLC alumna Kate Suazo joined FLC in 2019 and has been a key catalyst for change regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. People both on and off campus see her as a valuable resource and leader. In her work, she advocates directly for her students and helps create a safe environment on campus for those who have been presented with challenges that could undermine their academic and social success at FLC. For the last year, Suazo has gone above and beyond her primary role and led the COVID-19 Case Management team. She worked to ensure that each student affected by the virus felt seen and heard, specifically ensuring that students were met with gender and cultural inclusivity.
"Kate Suazo has demonstrated leadership and commitment and promotes social change and equality with those she works with. She continues to strive for a brighter future for the students at FLC and finds innovative ways to enhance the College community. By advocating for students and innovating solutions to address students’ mental wellbeing, she has helped numerous students have a better quality of life while in school."
Matthew Welz, Ph.D., Ginny Hutchins Teaching Award for New Faculty
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
The Ginny Hutchins Teaching Award for New Faculty nominations are recommended by tenured faculty and must include input from students. Only teaching is considered for this award and the criteria includes excellence in course development and delivery, excellence in student advising and mentoring, and creative, innovative endeavors or initiatives in instruction.
In his four years as part of the Mathematics Department, Matthew Welz, Ph.D., has been a tremendous asset to both his colleagues and especially his students. Not only is he a great teacher, but he is also a trusted advisor for students who need help with courses, research, scholarships, and even life in general. He is a true ambassador for mathematics, sharing his enthusiasm with students through projects, research, competitions, and community outreach.
"Dr. Welz makes his students feel like he cares not just about their learning math, but about them as people and about their futures. The relationships he builds with his students help them to open up and trust him and able to learn math better, as well as give them confidence in other classes."
Jessicalyn Lewis, Outstanding New Staff Award
The Outstanding New Staff Award recognizes a staff member who has been at FLC less than three years and has contributed significantly to their office or department. While achieving excellence in their duties, they’ve also made significant improvements to processes and demonstrated passion and commitment to FLC and its mission.
In the short time J-Lyn Lewis has been a part of FLC, she has demonstrated outstanding performance, both to the School of Arts & Sciences as the administrative assistant and to the College in general. During the time of COVID-19, she took on many new responsibilities: Notifying faculty of students needing remote access to classes, leading student contact tracing efforts, connecting students to case managers, and coordinating efforts with local public health officials. She assumed a high level of responsibility and confidentiality for COVID-related work while continuing to anticipate the needs and support the functions of the School of Arts & Sciences.
"J-Lyn Lewis is without a doubt one of the most outstanding employees at FLC. Her professionalism, innovation, and leadership have been invaluable to FLC during her three and a half semesters of employment. Her competence and contributions within the stressful situation of COVID are beyond commendable. She makes the school function better and more efficiently while also bringing positivity and professionalism that is as refreshing as it is rare."
Laurie Williams, Ph.D., Achievement Award
Professor and Chair of the Physics & Engineering Department
The Achievement Award is given to a faculty, staff, or administrator 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 the College’s service to the students and community; and demonstrated leadership in education, social and professional programs.
In the 17 years that Laurie Williams, Ph.D., has been at FLC, she has demonstrated exceptional leadership, service to the College and community, creative scholarship, and has been a strong source of professional and personal support for faculty and students alike. She has supported the development of the Sophomore Design Sprint, Solar Spring Break, and Village Aid Project, enhancing the opportunities for hands-on learning for students and FLC’s service to the community.
"I have looked up to Laurie for her direction in her professional career as well as her apparent passion for teaching students. Her commitment to humanitarian projects such as Solar Spring Break and the Village Aid Project is inspiring and led me and many of my fellow classmates to get involved with helping others. Dr. Laurie Williams' teachings remind us that our education is capable of improving the lives of the world."
Betty Dorr, Ph.D., Roger Peters Distinguished Professor Award
Professor of Psychology
The Roger Peters Distinguished Professor Award was created in 2008 to honor Roger Peters’ long and productive career of scholarly achievement and exemplary service. Peters was an active scholar throughout his career who also maintained a commendable record of service. The recipient of this award is, likewise, honored for their excellence in all facets of their career—teaching, scholarship, and service. This award represents the best levels of achievement in our faculty: excitement and enthusiasm for one’s pedagogical philosophy; theory and practice both in and out of the classroom; extensive service and leadership to students, colleagues, and the community. This award honors a career culmination.
Betty Dorr, Ph.D., has been part of the FLC faculty since 1991. Throughout her longstanding service to the College, she has demonstrated excellence in teaching, passion for the topics she teaches, and devoted commitment to students.
"Dr. Dorr believes that her role is to mentor students into their upcoming academic and professional life. She works to build transparent connections between classes so students can value their classes in a meaningful context to their profession. The undergraduate degree is an important step on their life path, and her passion for psychology and teaching motivates and inspires students to pursue their best life."
Kendra Gallegos-Reichle (Psychology, ’05), Outstanding Staff Award
Assistant Director of Student Wellness & Training and former Coordinator of Student Wellness Initiatives
The Outstanding Staff Award is awarded to any classified or exempt staff member who has performed service during each of the past three years. This award considers excellence in the performance of duties; successful interpersonal relationships with the public, peers, and supervisors; sincere concern in developing and progressing to performance that is outstanding; contributions to the growth and development of FLC as an institute of higher learning; and demonstrated commitment to college and/or community service.
FLC alumna Kendra Gallegos-Reichle has been with the College for more than a decade, sharing her enthusiasm and passion for student wellness in many meaningful ways. As coordinator of student wellness initiatives and advisor to WellPAC, she connected students to health strategies that improved not only their wellbeing but their experience and success as an FLC student. In addition to her coordinator role, Kendra brought suicide intervention trainings to campus and lent her expertise to First-Year Launch, Psychology, and Public Health courses.
"Kendra supports her students as their advisor but also pushes them to develop as people. She provides space for students to show up as they are but challenges them to be even better. I often hear students talk about how much Kendra impacted their college career. Her authenticity and mentorship are invaluable. She exudes warmth and makes students feel comfortable in being who they are. Her ability to forge strong, meaningful relationships serves our students but also our faculty, staff, and larger Durango community."
Andrea Berghoff, Ed.D., Kathy Wellborn Teaching Award
Lecturer of Teacher Education
This teaching award for non-tenure-track faculty recognizes the contributions made to the College by lecturers and part-time instructors who have taught at FLC for multiple semesters. It is named in honor of Kathy Wellborn, a long-time instructor in the Transitional Studies and First-Year Math Programs (from 1981 to 2015) who epitomized exemplary teaching and mentoring of students. The recipient of this award demonstrates excellence in classroom teaching and success in interpersonal relationships with students.
Over the past five years, the Teacher Education Department and FLC have greatly benefitted from Andrea Berghoff’s teaching innovation, professional expertise, and commitment to providing students with authentic learning opportunities. As an instructor, she effectively designs and delivers innovative instruction and cultivates positive learning environments for students in a wide range of courses. Her colleagues and students value her teaching excellence, creativity in course design, and deep connections with students.
"Andrea is such a wonderful teacher. She makes the material stand out, relatable, understandable, and connects it to real-world application. I look forward to her classes and enjoy doing the homework because it all ties together, without unnecessary busy work. As students, we know that she cares for us because Andrea goes the extra mile in and outside of the classroom. Andrea is a bright light in the Teacher Education Department, sharing her wealth of knowledge with compassion and fervor."