Brookings Hall

Dean's Community Response Award Winners

This year has not been easy, and many members of our Arts & Sciences community have faced significant struggles. Amid all this, we’ve held steadfast to our mission of research and education, bringing students back to class and back to campus, making critical progress in scholarly endeavors, and keeping the machinery of a world-class liberal arts school running.

In fall 2020, Dean Feng Sheng Hu announced a new awards program to recognize the exceptional efforts of faculty and staff in Arts & Sciences to adapt and thrive during this challenging semester. All winners were nominated by members of the Arts & Sciences community, and many winners received several nominations. Condensed excerpts from letters of nomination may be found below. 

Congratulations to all awardees, and thank you for your exceptional commitment to Arts & Sciences!


Group Awards

Arts & Sciences Computing Leadership Team

Allen Wang, Larry Mollard, Marcia Mannen, Dale Abernathie, Megan Radcliff, Amy Baker, and Lucas Heberlie

When most faculty and staff were leaving campus, the A&S Computing staff were heading to campus to get the equipment and technology ready. Each day A&S brought them new problems, new challenges, and new obstacles. The team quickly assessed each and found ways to solve the most complex situations in record time. In some cases what should have taken us months to vet, purchase, and implement, we shortened into an afternoon. We managed all of this without faltering on our day-to-day duties.

College Office

Marissa Kaltwasser, Isaac Bondurant, and Jennifer Kohl

Beyond their own typical duties, these key members of the College office have accomplished a staggering amount of work that impacts practically all staff, faculty, and students within Arts & Sciences. Every single section, for every single course, in every single department was updated one at a time, by hand, by either Marissa or Isaac, so our students could make informed decisions in a timely manner based on changes that were quickly arising. Every. Single. Course. In addition to Jennifer’s phenomenal leadership and strength as she worked to transition our office from brick and mortar operations to a telework environment, I have consistently been impressed with the mindfulness she demonstrates in guiding others to think through how decisions could impact certain populations and ensure we make decisions with an inclusive lens.

Department of Chemistry

Megan Daschbach and Rich Loomis

Professor Loomis and Dr. Dashbach are always exceptional instructors, but they have definitely stepped it up this semester under incredibly difficult circumstances. They teach our General Chemistry course (CHEM 111), which has over 500 students. Transitioning this class to a virtual format in the face of the pandemic has been an amazing, Herculean effort. They spent most of their summer re-recording new lectures that were specifically designed for students in a virtual format. Moreover, to ensure that each student has an opportunity to get to know the instructors, both Professor Loomis and Dr. Dashbach are holding many more office hours than typical... I know on multiple occasions, Professor Loomis has held office hours until 2 or 3 AM. Their commitment to ensuring that the students get the same educational experience and interaction this year, in the middle of a pandemic, is simply extraordinary. It has required at least two or three times more work, and I believe that their dedication is worthy of this recognition.


Individual Awards

Amanda Carey  | Teaching Professor in Spanish, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

It seems that every committee I sit on has someone with a glowing story to tell about help that Amanda has given in one way or another, from seminars that she’s given to groups of people to one-on-one instruction. I have been impressed over and over again the way she cares for both instructor and student and advocates continually for both. She has certainly made me a better chair, helping to make me aware of needs that need help. What’s more, she doesn’t just bring a problem for the chair to solve, she always comes with a solution and that makes her all the more valuable.

Jennifer Gartley | Programming and Public Outreach Director, Department of Music

Under Jen’s leadership, the department outfitted 15 faculty studios for remote instruction and created approximately 20 studios for student use at the 560 Music Center and Danforth Campus. These new facilities were up and running by the first day of the new semester. Through all of this, Jen Gartley has been a virtuosic leader. She has prioritized and delegated tasks to keep our educational mission on track; communicated frequently and clearly with applied faculty to understand their needs and concerns; and synthesized WashU’s public-health directives with information about how our peer institutions are handling applied music. Moreover, she has treated the staff with utmost respect, humanity, and equity, always making their health and work-life balance a priority.

Silas Johnson | Lecturer in Mathematics, Department of Mathematics and Statistics 

Over the summer Silas was tapped to think carefully about the best ways to teach both hybrid and fully online classes. He helped run teaching seminars for faculty in our department that greatly helped everybody get organized, overcome their fears, and effectively use the available technology. Silas is the go-to person in our department when anybody wants a thoughtful response about how to do evaluations, or how to teach, using new modalities. When COVID hit this spring, Silas took the lead in thinking through the best way to do this for mathematics, and shared his thoughts and plans with the rest of the department.

Gerry Kohring | Storeroom Manager, Department of Chemistry

Gerry was willing to work in a massive coordination effort between multiple research groups to minimize the number of people crossing paths in the storeroom. He was willing to sacrifice his own safety by coming in to work, and his actions led to better, safer practices for all of us. When it was first determined that fall teaching labs would be conducted in person, Gerry’s proactive approach ensured our teaching plans would not be disrupted due to shortages as the semester approached. He is relied upon by the entire department. He understands this and steps up to the challenge of keeping our department moving forward when so many places have come to a halt.

Alyse Kuhlman | Administrative Coordinator, Department of Anthropology

At the beginning of the pandemic, Alyse realized it would have a significant effect on our undergrads and said (literally) 'put me in coach.' She recognized the coming chaos and leaned into it. This means that she was at the heart of helping our undergraduates come back from study abroad and find classes to compensate, and spearheading our virtual commencement by bringing alumni together to support and encourage our graduating seniors. It was epic. Her goal has always to been to serve the students and she does this exceptionally well. She embodies the idea of 'know the name, know the story.'

Lindsay Meador | Instructional Specialist, University College

Lindsay began her intense effort in March as part of the group that stood up the Teaching Continuity website, and she was part of a team that trained 100 instructors—both in UCollege and A&S generally—to quickly flip summer to a robustly online format. She also worked with faculty individually, introducing the tools they would need for the quick pivot to online learning. Throughout her work, she continues to research practices for increasing engagement and equity in the online classroom. Lindsay is a sought after and trusted colleague. Despite the many requests for help that come her way, she still answers with a 'we can do this!'

Krista Milich | Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology, Department of Anthropology 

Professor Milich—on short notice—developed and implemented the wildly popular pre-fall term course Pandemic: Science and Society. The course attracted an unprecedented enrollment, which makes it stand out. But the numbers are only the tip of the iceberg in this instance. The guest speakers were wonderful, they were well supported by Professor Milich, and they were integrated within a structure that was focused on understanding the pandemic and on comprehending basic scientific communication and literacy. Class discussion boards were a hive of activity, and Professor Milich and her staff were deeply engaged in working with the students, answering literally thousands of questions a day (and on weekends), and keeping up with assessments. I’ve now spoken with a number of students that took the class and they all gush about the experience.

Eleanor Pardini | Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director, Environmental Studies

Eleanor has exhibited a remarkable capacity to serve the multiple needs of her colleagues throughout this unprecedented time. Whether by offering clear directives for course revisions, keeping us connected to updates from the administration, or calling on us to pay attention to our personal health, she has shown grace, genuine care for our wellbeing, and a personal commitment to maintaining a fantastic, professional environmental studies program.

Nancy Reynolds | Associate Professor, Department of History and Department of Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies

In the months since the pandemic transformed our lives on campus and off, Nancy has been a stalwart advocate and an unshakable pillar of support for graduate students. As Director of Graduate Studies in both History and JIMES, she has guided both students and faculty through these difficult times. What has most impressed me is how diligently she has been looking out for our students during the pandemic. She knows each and every student in both programs, and she regularly contacts students to check in on them and make sure that they are withstanding the stresses of the pandemic. She has made sure that all have the funding they need to stay in the program and finish their projects. She has brainstormed alternative solutions for students who had to cancel research trips abroad. She has advised finishing students on their career paths, organizing mock interviews for the academic and non-academic job markets. Nancy is truly a model of service to our community.

Shaina Rowell | Instructional Specialist, CIRCLE, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences

Shaina was instrumental in making sure that all faculty were prepared to not just survive, but to teach well, to engage students, and to create the most constructive and educational process possible. She did this all with endless good humor, a clear grasp of the empirical literature on what is effective, and the ability to have tremendous patience with a very stressed out set of faculty.