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Communication Studies

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Department of Communication Studies

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2013 Outstanding Communication Studies Award Winners

Charles St. John, Cydney Trapp and Sarah Pomerantz, winners of the 2013 Outstanding Communication Studies Award     Jenny Roberts, winner of the 2013 Outstanding Communication Studies Award

All four of these students—Charles St. John, Cydney Trapp and Sarah Pomerantz (all seniors, pictured from left to right), and Jenny Roberts (a junior, pictured alone)—received top honors from the Department of Communication Studies during the University of Denver's student awards presentation held on May 15, 2013.

2013 Staff Pioneer Award Winner: Paula Martin, Assistant to the Chair of Communication Studies

Paula Martin, winner of the 2013 Staff Pioneer Award

The Pioneer Award is one of DU's "most prestigious awards and is given annually to one faculty member, one staff member, and up to 10 students who best exemplify the Pioneer spirit . . . [The award] recognizes individuals or organizations who epitomize what it means to be a DU Pioneer over the duration of their undergraduate career, or service to the university as a faculty or staff member, or student organization. Recipients . . . will demonstrate strong academic performance, leadership, community service, campus involvement, strong character, and pride in the University. Nominees should also exemplify pioneering qualities, the attributes that demonstrate innovation, creativity and a unique perspective that impacts the DU Community."

2013 Central States Communication Association's Outstanding New Teacher Award: Professor Erin Willer

Dr. Erin Willer and Dr. Joe Mazer, recipients of the 2013 Central States Communication Association's Outstanding New Teacher Award

Professor Erin Willer (pictured with Dr. Joe Mazer, Clemson University) received the 2013 Central States Communication Association Outstanding New Teacher Award at the association's annual conference, which was held in Kansas City this year. The award honors individuals early in their professional career who are showing distinction as teachers. Professor Willer was selected from amongst a highly competitive pool for this honor. When presenting her with the award, Dr. Jordan Soliz said the following about Professor Willer:

"Her evaluations are off the charts even in some of the more difficult and anxiety-provoking courses in the major such as quantitative research methods . . . Both colleagues and students point to her inclusion of 'narrative pedagogy' as an innovative approach to teaching and one that makes her such an effective instructor. As one of her letters of support explains:

'As a narrative scholar, she recognizes that students come to a class with experiences, expectations, and life stories that influence their approach to the course. Therefore, she makes appointments with students during the quarter to share their stories with her. These stories many include things about their educational life relevant to classroom learning, but they may also share any other details about themselves they wish. After they talk (for at least 20 minutes), she types up their story and shares it with them, illustrating that she has heard, understood, and values them as a person and student. She does this each quarter in addition to thoroughly preparing lessons, holding office hours, and grading . . .'

What makes her deserving of this award is best summed up by a student comment:

'She sees us as more than just students, but as capable and excited scholars, willing and able to share our knowledge and perspectives with others. She possesses a unique and subtle grace that maintains a positive and intellectually stimulating classroom environment without compromising it. She challenges without invalidating, guides without controlling, and encourages without pushing.'"