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FLC faculty and staff receive awards for exemplary service

FLC faculty and staff receive awards for exemplary service

From supporting the day-to-day operations of the College with innovation and excellence to going above and beyond to advance institutional goals, this year’s faculty and staff award recipients exhibited exceptional work.

The 2022 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 going above and beyond to advance institutional goals, this year’s faculty and staff award recipients 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!

Mark Gutt, Excellence in Service Award
Manager of Planning, Design, and Construction, Physical Plant Services

The Excellence in Service Award celebrates the contributions of employees often completing responsibilities “behind the scenes.” This staff member has consistent excellence in performing duties, stepping in where needed, and maintaining a positive approach to their work.

During his more than 20 years at FLC, Mark Gutt has been an integral part in producing more than $100 million in capital projects, controlled maintenance, emergency projects, and improvements to campus infrastructure. When working on any project, Gutt prioritizes students. The buildings he has either remodeled, added to, improved upon, or managed entire construction of have enabled the college to increase its reach in recruitment and enrollment and improve the student experience.

"The list of ways in which Mark enables students, faculty, and staff to do more and be more at FLC is endless. He is humble, kind, determined, focused on the students, diligent, and has dedicated almost 25 years of his life to ensuring that FLC students get the safest and best experience possible. Mark Gutt is FLC."


Erich McAlister, Ph.D., Alice Admire Outstanding Teaching Award
Professor of Mathematics

The Alice Admire Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes excellence in classroom teaching. Specifically, demonstrated success in interpersonal relationships with students, showing genuine concern for their personal and social development along with their academic progress.

Erich McAlister, Ph.D., joined FLC in 2005. His research background is in the area of C*-star algebras; he has presented his research on mathematics and teaching at colloquiums and meetings around the country. He regularly directs students’ independent study projects and senior seminar research, the culminating academic experience for mathematics majors at FLC. McAlister is the current co-chair of the Academic Standards Committee, former chair of the Math Department, former chair of the Assessment Committee, and a current member of the Affordable Educational Resources Committee. Additionally, he provides ongoing tech support for all online homework in all lower-division math classes and his office hours are always filled with eager students. 

"He is a most productive creator of course materials in the Mathematics Department, bringing his distinctive approach—and even sense of humor—to the curriculum. Dr. McAlister is much more than a math professor to students—he impacts their lives far beyond the classroom. I keep hearing again and again how much students’ self-confidence and belief in their abilities increased through their interaction with Dr. McAlister."


Tarecka Payne, Maria Cristina Grabiel y de la Guardia Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Award 
Assistant Director of the Diversity Collaborative

Named after Maria Cristina Grabiel y de la Guardia, a staff member at FLC from 1998 to 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.”

Tarecka Payne came to FLC in the summer of 2019. She initially worked for the Leadership Center as the program coordinator and SUP advisor, but often found herself engaging in any diversity initiative. She transitioned to the assistant director of the Diversity Collaborative where she shares her passions for cultural food programming and heritage months. Payne has significantly grown the impact and programming around heritage months and days celebrated on the FLC campus. Through these events, students, faculty, and staff not only have a safe space to share their identities but also get to learn more about their peers and colleagues.

"Tarecka works to support all our diverse students and creates and sustains space for our Black Student Resource Center. Her work with the affinity centers and all the months of celebration is astounding. She balances her work on campus with her love for her coworkers (and their dogs!) and is working toward her Doctorate to become a leading expert in the field."


Jeff Dupont, Achievement Award
Dean of Student Engagement

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.

Jeff Dupont arrived to FLC in 2008, starting as the director of Recreation before moving into the role of senior director of Health & Wellness. After serving as the associate vice president of Student Health & Wellbeing, Dupont transitioned into his current role of dean of Student Engagement in the summer of 2021. In addition to these leadership positions, Dupont was the chair of the Worklife Wellness Committee for nearly 10 years. Dupont's passion for youth engagement and wellbeing extends beyond FLC, too. He has served on the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County for 10 years. Dupont leads campus in developing creative support systems that help people achieve wellness, and is always working to implement easy ways for community members to engage in activities that make them feel good. He's driven and inspired by the impact he has on the student experience. He loves listening to students, creating a culture that meets their needs, and watching them reap the benefits of their great ideas.

"One of the most incredible pieces of the work Jeff does is his ability to both push his staff to grow and be our best selves for the students, but also support and hold us as human beings. I have never had a supervisor, boss, mentor, or friend who has made me feel like I have a place and a purpose at this institution as much as Jeff has."


Keisha Carlson, Ph.D., Ginny Hutchins Teaching Award for New Faculty
Assistant Professor of Biology 

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 criteria include excellence in course development and delivery, excellence in student advising and mentoring, and creative, innovative endeavors or initiatives in instruction. 

In the past three academic years, Keisha Carlson, Ph.D., has been an outstanding faculty member and has made significant contributions to FLC and the Biology Department, adding expertise in bioinformatics and molecular genetics. She has been an exceptional instructor for courses in the Biology major, and has served as an effective, thoughtful, and engaged mentor to her research students. Carlson has been very active in working on new ways to engage students taking an introductory biology course, has included new and relevant material in her courses, and developed innovative and distinctive ways to improve grading. 

"Dr. Carlson is a wonderful professor and mentor. She genuinely cares about her students and their learning. As a research mentor, she was easy to work with and to ask questions. She is a very understanding, genuine person, and it shines through inside and outside of the classroom."


Travis Johnson, Outstanding New Staff Award
Office Manager, School of Arts & Sciences

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 Travis Johnson has been a part of FLC, he has demonstrated outstanding performance in supporting multiple departments across campus. The Anthropology, Environment & Sustainability, Mathematics, and Chemistry departments have all benefited from his excellence as an administrative assistant. As the office manager for the School of Arts & Sciences, he continues to impact the College in meaningful ways, helping with professionalism and integrity. 

"Travis has excelled in his time at FLC. He successfully supported multiple programs in a way that did not make any of them feel that he was overextended. Part of this can be credited to his ability to learn the various aspects of his job quickly, but he is also motivated to provide the best support possible. He is clearly dedicated to FLC as an institution and demonstrates genuine enthusiasm for his work."


Andrew Gulliford, Ph.D., Roger Peters Distinguished Professor Award
Professor of History and Environmental Studies

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 while maintaining 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.

In his 22 years at FLC, Andrew Gulliford, Ph.D., has amassed a 42-page curriculum vitae of scholarly publications, public talks, expert witness research and testimonies, article and book reviews, historical tours, monthly columns, public and FLC service, grants and research funding, and scholarly consultations for media and television. He is a masterful storyteller, weaving familiar and unknown details of the past into lectures that keep people—including students—riveted in their seats. In addition to regaling the wider public, Gulliford is an impactful teacher. His investigative scholarship is regularly featured in his history courses on the West, national parks, the environment, and heritage preservation. 

"Dr. Gulliford’s research and stories have inspired many of our students to pursue related topics on their capstone projects. Moreover, he has forged lasting relationships with contacts at a broad range of museums, archives, and national parks, which have, in turn, led to countless FLC student internships and, in some cases, careers and graduate school. The History Department is grateful to have Dr. Gulliford’s energy, creativity, and generosity representing us, informing the public, and inspiring our students."


Lauren Pope, Outstanding Staff Award
Media Relations Strategist

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 a performance that is outstanding; contributions to the growth and development of FLC as an institution of higher learning; and demonstrated commitment to college and/or community service.

Lauren Pope arrived at FLC in 2018 and since has effectively reshaped external media relations and institutional communications in many meaningful ways. In her time at FLC, she has built relationships with key media partners and has garnered positive press coverage for FLC in significant publications and channels including the New York Times, PBS NewsHour, CBS in Denver, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Colorado Sun. She is an integral thought partner to College leadership and has led communications for campus during emergencies and crises. As a team member of the Marketing & Communications Department, she also acts as a strategic storyteller, joyfully writing about the unique successes of students, faculty, and staff at FLC.

"Lauren’s relationships with members of the public, specifically the press, are unparalleled. She truly has a preternatural sense of media pitches, timing, process, and the personalities at play in it all, and always knows the next right move to get FLC the best possible coverage. Back on campus, Lauren works well with everyone she interacts with. Her commitment to FLC is unwavering; she believes in what we do and how we can help change lives through education."


Katherine Olinger, Kathy Wellborn Teaching Award
Adjunct Instructor of Music

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.

Katherine Olinger has served as an adjunct instructor and piano accompanist in the Music Department for 18 years, has played piano for more than 50 years and has taught piano for 36 years. Her professional performance experience includes musical productions of every variety: theater productions, studio recording sessions, public and private recitals, lobby and lounge music, church services, and special events of all types. She is passionate about collaborating with FLC students and faculty to create beautiful music from the very beginning of the learning process through the culmination of work in hundreds of live performances.

"Kathy Olinger is a truly inspiring pianist and teacher. Her patience with piano students is immeasurable—she only wants to see them all succeed. Outside of the classroom, she is a collaborative pianist and accompanist to most of the Music Department, for which she constantly carves time out of her busy schedule to help student performers succeed. Every semester she goes the extra mile to ensure that every musician here receives the best performance education that they can by learning more repertoire in those short months than many student musicians will learn in their entire undergraduate education. Kathy Olinger is a hard-working, caring, and thoughtful teacher, and I can think of no other more worthy of this recognition."

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