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Nine Faculty and Staff, One Department Honored

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University of Denver

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Campus Life  •

The University of Denver will host its annual Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Magness Arena. This year’s luncheon will honor nine faculty and staff members and one department. The honorees include the following:

Staff Advisory Council Awards Staff Advisory Council Awards

  • Ulli Nierling — Outstanding Service Award
  • Graduate School of Social Work (Online MSW Department) — Quality Department Award
  • Gloria Bokenkamp — Crimson and Gold Award
  • Alyssa Boltinghouse — Innovator Award

Faculty Awards

  • William Cross — University Lecturer Award
  • Laura Rovner — Distinguished Teaching Award
  • Seth Masket — Distinguished Scholar Award
  • Linda Wang, United Methodist Church — University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award
  • Helene Grall-Johnson — Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award
  • Nancy Wadsworth — Faculty Service Award

This is the second consecutive year DU has hosted the awards luncheon. In previous years the awards were presented at Convocation, but that was split off so that the University could solely focus on an event that celebrated faculty and staff.

“At the heart of the University are our faculty and staff, who express the mission of the University in their teaching, scholarship and service,” said DU Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “Our annual Faculty & Staff Awards Luncheon is an opportunity to recognize some of those who have made invaluable contributions over the past year. And it provides an opportunity for us to come together to acknowledge all that we do for the University, our students and the community as a whole.”

As part of our coverage, we’re highlighting four of the faculty and staff members who will be receiving awards at this year’s event:

William Cross

Dr. William Cross Jr. (BA ’63), clinical professor in the Morgridge College of Education, is receiving this year’s University Lecturer Award. He has been teaching at DU for more than four years and holds a joint appointment in Higher Education and Counseling Psychology at DU. Cross earned his doctorate in psychology from Princeton University in 1976.

Over the course of 40 years of theorizing and research, Cross has become a major figure in the discourse on social movement identity change (Nigrescence Theory), especially as it applies to the African American experience. His work has inspired identity discourses for other social identity groups, including: LGBTQ and the coming out process; Feminist Identity change; and development of a disabled identity stance.

“I am very much a product of the social movements of the 1970s, and have worked on the margins of the mainstream most of my career,” said Cross. “In the winter of my life, I still find meaning in scholarship and teaching, and I accept the award with joy, satisfaction, and a keen since of gratitude for an institution — the University of Denver — that has helped insert into my mind, heart and soul the ability to make a difference. I am overwhelmed.”

Laura Rovner

Laura Rovner, professor of law in the Sturm College of Law, is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award. She has spent most of her career working in and expanding civil rights clinics in law schools — work she began while attending Georgetown University. She later taught in the clinical program at Syracuse University, followed by the North Dakota School of Law. Rovner came to DU in 2004 to set up the Civil Rights Clinic — the newest addition to the College of Law's clinical program, which at the time was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The primary focus of the cases in the Civil Rights Clinic, says Rovner, is the constitutionality of prison conditions, including issues such as access to adequate medical care, freedom of expression and the free exercise of religion. Students at the clinic are responsible for their clients and cases, and handle all aspects of the litigation.

“First, I want to say how grateful I am to receive this award, especially knowing that I work every day with teachers in the law school and across campus who are equally deserving. But I’m even more grateful for the opportunity to teach the law students who participate in the Civil Rights Clinic,” said Rovner. “In a profession that’s often portrayed — and sometimes practiced — as very individualistic, it’s an honor to teach and learn from students who are working together to imagine our justice system not as it is, but as what it could be.”

Alyssa Boltinghouse

Alyssa Boltinghouse (MA ’15) — recipient of the Innovator Award — knows that innovation is a key to success. Over the past year-and-a-half, Boltinghouse, who serves as the assistant to the chair in the Department of Religious Studies, has worked hard to incorporate innovative changes into her department and that of the Department of Philosophy. These include: branding the “Religion Matters” motto into all of the departmental marketing materials and website; creating a new brochure for the MA program; creating and managing the Department of Philosophy’s Facebook page; and developing the first-ever religious studies e-newsletter for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni and friends.

Boltinghouse says the most innovative and fun projects she’s worked on have been the YouTube videos she’s filmed and edited. The “Religion Matters” and “Our Courses” videos showcase what students have to say about why religion matters and what courses have been their favorites. The videos, she says, have been a great resource for prospective students to. She also helped organize and edit a faculty introduction video.

“The DU Innovator Award means a lot to me personally; it is a crystallization of all of my work this past year-and-a-half. What you might call innovative, I call enjoyable,” said Boltinghouse. “This award may highlight my innovativeness, but it also sheds light on how far the departments of Religious Studies and Philosophy have come in just the past year.”

Ulli Nierling

Ulli Nierling (MA ’14) is receiving this year’s Outstanding Service Award. Nierling, assistant director for Shared Services, started working at DU in 2007 as an administrative assistant for finance in the Department of Parking Services. From there, she moved into the position of budget officer for Campus Safety, followed by the position of plant fund accountant in the controller’s office. These opportunities, says Nierling, have allowed her to grow personally and professionally.

In her current role, Nierling oversees payroll and accounts payable operations for the University, while at the same time identifying and creating best practices that drive innovation and business improvements.

Over the past year she and her team have accomplished a lot, including internal process improvements and the successful roll-out of Kronos, the new time and attendance system for non-exempt staff, which has streamlined the university process and increased compliance. Both projects were accompanied by training offerings, reference materials, ongoing communication, and continuing improvements to the system to offer more and improved capabilities.

“It is a great honor and privilege to receive the award for Outstanding Service,” said Nierling. “I have to thank the amazing team at Shared Services for their hard work and commitment to excellent service; they make it fun for me to come to work each day. Working in an environment of learning with an amazing group of people is what makes me happy.”

All faculty and staff award recipients