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2018 Faculty Awards Announced

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Alyssa Hurst

Seven faculty members chosen as recipients

News  •

Seven faculty members have been chosen as recipients of DU’s faculty awards, including the new Distinguished University Professor Award. Faculty were selected based on their impressive work and the recommendations of colleagues and students. The following award winners will be recognized later this year at DU’s annual Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon.

Distinguished University Professor

Doug and Julie
Doug Clements and Julie Sarama


Douglas Clements is a Kennedy Endowed Chair in early childhood learning, co-executive director of the Marsico Institute of Early Learning and Literacy, and professor at DU’s Morgridge College of EducationJulie Sarama has an equally impressive pedigree, serving as a professor in the Morgridge College, a Kennedy Endowed Chair in innovative technology and as co-executive director of the Marsico Institute alongside Clements. Together, the married couple has made waves in the world of early childhood learning and are currently conducting several research projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

Their groundbreaking and prolific work in early education and innovation has earned Sarama and Clements recognition through this year’s Distinguished University Professor Award. This new award is the highest award the University bestows, and this year’s recipients were chosen based on scholarly productivity, national and international distinction in a field of research, and work that makes a positive impact on society.

In her nomination for Clements and Sarama for this award, Karen Riley, dean and professor in the Morgridge College of Education, noted the significance of the pair’s research: “Drs. Clements and Sarama’s contributions are driven by a desire to shape this critical foundational learning. The theoretically and empirically supported frameworks and models they have created have been widely cited and adopted, and have served as the foundation of successful mathematics curricula, assessments, professional development tools and procedures, and scale-up models, adopted throughout the U.S. and now in multiple other countries. ... Their work literally has shaped the way we can better understand and improve upon all children’s learning and life success.”

University Lecturer Award


Alan Chen
Alan Chen

Alan Chen, professor in the Sturm College of Law, has been chosen as this year’s University Lecturer. Chen’s expertise centers on constitutional and First Amendment law, the law of federal courts and public interest law. He has co-authored two books, “Public Interest Lawyering: A Contemporary Perspective” and “Free Speech Beyond Words: The Surprising Reach of the First Amendment.” Before entering the world of academia, Chen served as a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Chicago office, and today, he maintains an active litigation docket with high-profile civil rights cases like Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett by lethal injection.

Noting not only his scholarly merit and prolific work, but also his reputation as a beloved professor, Bruce Smith, dean and professor in the Sturm College of Law, called Chen a “dedicated, compassionate and expert scholar-teacher of the highest order.” He added that students have said of Chen, “[He] is an absolute jewel in DU’s faculty crown — engaging, challenging, entertaining, approachable, incredibly knowledgeable, rational in his expectations, and truly one of the best professors I’ve ever, ever had.”

Distinguished Scholar Award


Amin Khodaei
Amin Khodaei

Amin Khodaei is this year’s Distinguished Scholar Award recipient. Khodaei is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science. Khodaei joined DU’s faculty in 2013, and over the last five years, has established a reputation for high achievement. Khodaei is at the forefront of DU’s Smart City research, and is one of very few to be awarded a Smart City grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. What’s more, he has been a champion of cross-disciplinary collaborations at DU in an effort to improve and broaden his research.

“Dr. Khodaei’s achievements and track record can be easily realized from his impressive resume and multitude of papers and academic contributions being referenced, circulated and applied in practice by the students and industry professionals,” says Kimon Valavanis, professor and director of research and innovation in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Distinguished Teaching Award

Kathy Green
Kathy Green

Kathy Green’s work as a research methods and statistics professor in the Morgridge College of Education’s Department of Research Methods and Information Science has earned her great respect and admiration from students and faculty alike. Her status as a beloved faculty member has earned her this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Green is celebrated for her ability to take a potentially difficult subject like statistics and make it exciting and approachable for students.

“Often soft spoken, [Green] is powerful in the classroom,” says one of Green’s former students. “To her students, it is immediately evident that Kathy carries years of experience and knowledge, but she shares that knowledge in a way that encourages students to share in their own discoveries on how this new information can be integrated into their academic progression.”

Faculty Service Award


Nicholas Ormes
Nicholas Ormes

Nicholas Ormes’ primary role is as an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics. But Ormes frequently can be seen around campus offering his time to numerous other endeavors. He is this year’s recipient of the Faculty Service Award. Ormes is currently involved with five university-wide service activities, including acting as faculty advisor for the Mortar Board Society and serving on both the Undergraduate Council and the Academic Diversity Council. Within the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Ormes is part of the NSMentoring Advisory group and the NSM Inclusive Excellence Task Force, among other ventures. Outside DU, Ormes is committed to service as well, serving as coach for the math and Lego robotics teams at Willow Creek Elementary School.

This is just a snapshot of Ormes’ service work, says Michael Kinyon, chair and professor in the Department of Mathematics. “The amount and quality of Nic’s service is, to be frank, overwhelming for a faculty member who is not in an administrative position,” Kinyon says. “Nic has long been a model of how to balance service at all levels from the departmental to the public.”

Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award

Ellen Winiarczyk
Ellen Winiarczyk

Ellen Winiarczyk is currently serving as an academic director and teaching assistant professor for the new Nonprofit Leadership program launching through University College. Prior to this role, Winiarczyk served as an adjunct instructor for University College's Leadership and Organizations master's program for eight years. Her reputation as a stellar and dedicated adjunct professor has earned her recognition through the Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award. Winiarczyk, who focuses on the study of leadership and leadership development with a strong emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion, teaches both on campus and online courses, always finding ways to build a classroom community and engage students.

“Ellen is a faculty member of choice by students,” says Patricia Greer, academic director and assistant professor in University College. “I frequently have students follow up with me to find out what other courses they can take from Ellen. It’s not because they are easy — quite the contrary. Ellen is an engaged faculty member who promotes critical thinking, promotes inclusive dialogue and material, and creates a classroom environment of respect, learning and high academic achievement.”


The Staff Advisory Council is now accepting nominations for the 2018 staff awards. To nominate a regular full-time or part-time appointed staff employee, click here

To learn more about the 2017 faculty and staff award recipients, please click here.