Skip to content
The College of St. Scholastica

The College of St. Scholastica’s annual faculty and staff awards were presented on Monday, Aug. 28, as part of Saints’ Institute, a week of community-building and professional development for faculty and staff. During this lunch, the following members of the Saints community were recognized and honored for their outstanding achievements. Congratulations to all!

The Living Our Values Award

Sandra (Sandi) Thoreson, coordinator of Support Services for the School of Health Professions, received the Living Our Values Award. This award is designed to recognize excellence of faculty and staff who support and further the College’s mission of preparing students for responsible living and meaningful work by exemplifying the Benedictine values in their work at the College.

The Max H. Lavine Award

Dr. William (Bill) Hodapp, faculty emeritus, professor of English, and Dr. Neil Witikko, director of the Center of Teaching and Learning and associate professor of Education, received the Max H. Lavine Award, the College’s highest award for teaching excellence. This award is given annually to faculty members who demonstrate a commitment to teaching excellence that supports the mission of the College through values-oriented teaching in the Benedictine tradition.

The Equal Access Award

Brynn Borer, assistant professor of Occupational Therapy and Anna Semanko, assistant professor of Psychology, received the Equal Access Award, recognizing faculty who exhibit exemplary effort to engage students with disabilities in academic and interpersonal growth and development.

The Tassie McNamara Award

Jennifer Niemi, director of Native Studies and Initiatives, received the Tassie McNamara Award, the highest honor presented by Maddy Ploof ’26, president of the Student Government Association, on behalf of the student body to a faculty or staff member. This award recognizes those who exemplify the spirit of St. Benedict through teaching or working at the College.

The Veritas Innovation Award

Tom Gibbons, professor and chair of the Computer Information Systems (CIS) Department; Michelle Ruszat Klee, coordinator of the Violence Intervention Program; and Erica Henkel, assistant professor and director of Accounting, Economics and Finance, were presented with the Veritas Innovation Award. Awarded to as many as five individuals annually, the Veritas Innovation Awards promote and recognize innovation in the Veritas liberal education curriculum. Awardees receive an honorarium of $500 to recognize an innovative idea they want to try in a Veritas course. After trying their idea, awardees receive another honorarium of $500 for presenting lessons learned from their innovation to the College community.

  • Gibbons is recognized for updating a machine learning course to include current topics like ChatGPT, along with student-centered active learning projects and labs.
  • Ruszat Klee is recognized for adding an actual budget to the student-project proposal process in her Dignitas course, adding a realistic constraint to the process and making the project more impactful for students.
  • Henkel is recognized for updating the Business Statistics course to a more modern tool, creating a more meaningful and higher-level Capstone project.

St. Scholastica’s experienced, dedicated and distinguished educators, administrators and staff provide an enriching environment for students of all backgrounds and interests. Learn about their many accomplishments by visiting the faculty and staff page.

Photo of the 2023 awards winners
2023 Faculty and Staff Awards Recipients. (Not pictured: Dr. Neil Witikko, Anna Semanko, and Sandra (Sandi) Thoreson)