Faculty and Staff Recognized with Annual All College Day Awards

Written by Karen L. Bystrom
June 12, 2019

On June 7, the annual All College Day Awards recognized faculty and staff achievements in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to submit nominations for seven awards selected by a committee of past awardees and confirmed by the Dean. Dean David V. Powers selects the recipients of the annual Dean’s Award.

Lauren Van Fossen

Outstanding Advising Award

Lauren Van Fossen has a significant impact on the intellectual, spiritual, and personal development of her advisees. Among the accolades from her colleagues, her nomination included, “She develops excellent rapport with students – building strong relationships of trust. Working with her, students feel heard and respected. She connects students with resources and individuals across campus. She is aware of issues of equity and inclusion and she has helped students develop self-advocacy skills and navigate what can be difficult campus conversations. She is dedicated to social justice.”

She is also a leader among professional academic advisors across campus, having served as chair of the Academic Advising Council and working diligently to promote awareness of the importance of academic advising and to support professional development opportunities for academic advisors. Under her leadership, the AAC collaborated with different campus partners to further strengthen the ability of academic advisors to help students.

This year, she has promoted collaboration at the university level by bringing together the interests of multiple Colleges and programs in a way that supports the Mission and is unprecedented on campus. She organized meetings of the group responsible for the Elementary Education Specialization partnership between Matteo Ricci Institute and Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. Leaders of those programs agree, saying, “Lauren’s leadership in this endeavor is crucial because she understands how program decisions affect students directly and how they should be communicated to students.”

One of Lauren’s advisees said, “She has gone above and beyond my expectations of what an academic advisor is supposed to do. She completely lives out SU mission statement on care. There are absolutely not enough words to put on the page to explain her care and ability to develop a real, authentic relationship between her as an advisor and myself as the student. When I leave SU, I can confidently say that (she) has been the most inspirational person who has made the greatest impact on my experience here at the university.”

Al O’Brien, MPA

Outstanding Contract Faculty Award

Al O’Brien's nomination summed him up as “a tremendous gift to our department. He has a lifetime of experience in criminal justice, considers himself a lifelong student, is a forever 20-year-old at heart, and this energy and enthusiasm lifts us all up – students, faculty, staff, and everyone he meets.”

A double SU alum, with a BA in Sociology and Master of Public Administration, Al has served as an adjunct faculty in Criminal Justice for many years on part-time and full-time contracts and in 2018-19, he served as a full-time instructor, teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to a 7-course load the past two years, he also took on independent study students and an advising load. He attends all department meetings and events, is a member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, has served as panelist in departmental continuing education events, and in summer 2017 designed and taught Criminal Justice’s first-ever high school college credit week-long course.

Al also contributes to student life in extracurricular events; an avid runner, he regularly participates in local runs with students and regularly takes first and second place in his age category in local 5K, 10K and half-marathon runs with groups from the department.

Outside of Seattle U, he served in the Seattle Police Department for 29 years, retiring as sergeant, and went on to become a Washington State legislator where he served as House of Representative 1st District from 1997-2010 and then chaired the Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee for 10 years. With his lifetime of experiences, he is a mentor to students, faculty, and staff who go to him for advice on academic, career, and even personal matters.

Caitlin Carlson, PhD

Outstanding Teaching Award

Caitlin Carlson, PhDDr. Caitlin Carlson is an exceptional teacher who offers uniquely challenging and rigorous courses that change students’ lives. She is a leader in the Communication Department who makes everyone’s teaching better and routinely goes the extra mile to help students in their development and professional formation.

Her nomination read, “A steady stream of students come to her office to unpack lectures, better understand content, search for internships, and plan their lives after graduation and she brings her whole enthusiastic, energetic self to each of these meetings. Her laughter and welcoming words to students ring throughout the offices, making the space more inviting to all students. Her teaching is exceptional both inside and outside the classroom.”

In addition to her consistently high quality teaching and mentoring of students, she has made even larger contributions to teaching throughout the department. She spearheaded efforts to work with students and improve the quality of teaching, mentoring new faculty colleagues in their teaching by welcoming them into her classroom, sharing her expertise and course materials generously and helping them deal with thorny issues in the classroom.

From one of her students:  “Although all of my professors have had an impact on my experience here at Seattle U, I don’t think any of them have had as much of an impact as Dr. Carlson. (She) approaches teaching with the deepest sense of empathy, passion, and humor, and it comes across so clearly to her students. I have learned so much from her about academic and communication topics, but even more so, she has helped show me the kind of person I want to be; kind, passionate, never taking things too seriously, and laughing – a lot. Dr. Carlson has made me believe that I can do whatever I want to accomplish; her support and encouragement have had such a positive impact on my time here and have truly made me a better version of myself.”

Charles Tung, PhD

Outstanding Scholarship Award

Dr. Charles Tung has been consistently (and amazingly) productive throughout his 15 years at Seattle University, publishing 11 peer-reviewed publications in prestigious and nationally recognized journals, seven invited talks and papers (including two keynotes in 2017), and a stunning 25 conference papers. In addition, during the same time, he has organized 12 conference panels and has offered 16 public presentations at SU.

Charles published his book, Modernism and Time Machines in 2019, is already at work on a second, and will soon publish two more essays.

In addition to his more traditional scholarship, his work over the last two years as the Principal Investigator and Director of The Study of the US Institute on Contemporary American Literature (SUSI) is an example of his broad impact on multiple academic disciplines both in the US and abroad. Since 2017, SU has hosted SUSI, a six-week summer Institute on post-1945 US literature and culture for eighteen professors of English from eighteen different countries, aiming to create new paths for teaching and research about US literature in participants' home countries through a wide and innovative range of content and scholarly approaches. In addition to his scholarly output and its boundary-pushing import, he is one of the department's strongest and most effective teachers. His scholarship and his teaching intertwine in ways that are productive both for his own research and for those students lucky enough to work with him.

On top of all of this, he currently leads as chair of his department. He excels in scholarship, teaching, and service with grace, humility, and, always forefront, humor and generosity. 

Rachel Luft, PhD

Outstanding Service Award

The nomination for Dr. Rachel Luft begins, “We are continually impressed by (her) leadership. We first had the opportunity to work with her as an impassioned senator on Faculty and Staff Senate. Then behind the scenes, working with students and college leadership to address and build understanding around issues of intersectionality in the College.”

Rachel steps up and steps in when needed. Last year, she returned to the Faculty Staff Senate after the completion of her “tour of duty” and covered as Acting President for a quarter. This year she stepped in as Acting Chair of Women and Gender Studies. She always manages incredibly well, even when encountering unforeseen issues. When the administrative assistant for Women and Gender Studies left for another position in SU at the beginning of the quarter, she not only adapted to the missing staff support, but also participated in the search for a replacement.

This past year, she accepted the responsibility of co-chairing the A&S Shared Governance Review Task Force and members commented:

“While this is a huge undertaking, she committed us to a thorough process based on sound methodology (even when it feels like we do not have the time or bandwidth to be so thorough). Her passion, care, and steady leadership makes members want to find the time to do the work.

“Yes, even in Zoom meetings on snow days and seven-hour qualitative survey comment coding sessions. True story.

“No one dreads going to Task Force meetings because she goes beyond to create an environment where members want to participate.”

Bruce Decker

Outstanding Collegiality Award

As Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Bruce provides marketing and communications support for the College and our programs with the website, graphics, photography, event coordination, and more, along with management of the annual Imagining the World International Photo Competition. He responds immediately to requests for help and goes out of his way to help his colleagues be successful.

Bruce’s nomination focused on a specific portion of his job description that many are not aware of, starting with, “As a de facto administrative assistant for the Rianna Arts & Sciences Annex, he is absolutely essential to how our office space functions, and thus to our work as core faculty in the university. Many on campus don’t know about The Annex but it is a vital working space for non-tenure track faculty, and thus also a key space in which students interact with their instructors. He is the first face students see as they come in, and they meet a professional, knowledgeable, and friendly person who helps them get where they are going.”

When anyone has issues with computers, printers, office supplies, kitchen appliances, or space coordination, he stops what he is doing and helps. One of the Rianna faculty said, “Even though he has another whole professional role on campus, I have never felt like I’m intruding when I make a request or ask for technical help with something. If he doesn’t immediately know the answer to a question, he knows who to ask or who to point us to.”

The nominations specifically called out his willingness to go above and beyond during what we now refer to as the epic fall flood of 2018, when many inches of water covered several hundred square feet in Rianna, affecting about a dozen staff and faculty members. In the immediate aftermath of the event, he notified everyone affected, helped save as many material valuables as possible, and got a cleanup crew set up the same day.

Some of the Rianna faculty said, “While this would typically be a stressful situation for any faculty members, he immediately made himself available to answer questions and assured us we would be quickly relocated to a comfortable space. He then, personally, walked through the available options on campus and sent us information about options he thought would accommodate us well (he is very aware of our individual preferences and how we work together). He located new temporary office spaces that were close together in Loyola and sent us photos of the spaces for approval. He also handled all of the details of our move, including providing packing boxes and arranging for movers with Facilities, as well as arranging for all of the set-up of our computers and phones so that we hardly missed a beat. The move back to Rianna in winter was equally smooth, and we are all incredibly grateful for his dedication to the University.”

The nomination also states, “He is the most even-keeled person I have ever worked with. He never gets upset…He never raises his voice, talks over someone, or ignores them. Even though we are not one department, Bruce makes us feel like one. He makes sure we all have name signs, directory listings, and phone numbers. He introduces new people to us when they arrive, and keeps up with the things going on in our lives. He thus not only helps us do  our work better in a logistical and technical sense; he makes the Rianna Annex a place that I enjoy coming to, and where we all feel like colleagues accomplishing something together.”

Reine Mages

Outstanding Staff Award

Reine’s helpful dedication is evident when she greets everyone with a welcoming smile and a sincere offer to assist them. She does whatever she can to meet the person’s needs, be they faculty, staff, or student. Questions and requests rarely stump her, but when they do, she expertly puts them in touch with those who would be more equipped to respond effectively.

One of her colleagues says, “Reine always has patience and persistence. Patience when it comes to onboarding new professors or helping us out when we are juggling too many things at the same time. Persistence when it comes to going the extra mile for our students, their wellbeing, and their education here at SU.”

She wears an amazing array of professional hats at SU. In addition to supporting several programs and initiatives, Reine served on the College of Arts and Sciences Events Committee, co-chaired the A&S Staff Committee, and served on the university Provost Search Committee. Her resourcefulness, skill and dedication enable her to deliver excellent work with steady composure and good humor.

From her nomination, “She went the extra mile in support of our program review this year, which required mining information from the ever-shifting maze of the university’s spotty databases. She dove headlong into SUDDS and its RevSU successors -- without scuba gear -- and returned to the surface with numbers in hand and no sign of decompression sickness.  If those numbers were not the data-gems we desired, she fearlessly returned to the murky depths in search of the necessary statistical treasures.”

As the Administrative Coordinator of International Studies (INST), the SU Advance Grant, Asian Studies and Latin American Studies, her commitment and capacity to support every member of these programs while lending a helping hand to others in need is truly remarkable. Her excellence reflects the Jesuit values of care for others and dedication to life-long learning about the diverse world around her.

Sally Hogan

Dean’s Award

Sally Hogan received the Dean’s Award for her extraordinary work this year and over the 12 years she has served as Budget Manager for the College of Arts and Sciences. Dean David Powers said,  “For the Dean's award this year, we are honoring one of the brightest, most dedicated, hard-working people I know. This is someone who used to teach students, but decided she wanted a real challenge and has moved on to teaching staff, faculty, department chairs, associate deans and deans. She's teaching them something that they didn't learn in graduate school, that they probably never really expected to learn, wanted to learn or thought they'd need to learn, but something that is central to everything we do. She teaches us how to do the budget.”

Sally is absolutely central to making everything happen when we have had to make challenging decisions on how to do new things and what to stop doing, She knows the budget of the college better than anyone and works with everyone to do the best we can to use our resources wisely. She meets with chairs and program directors for hours on end to help them understand the complexity of things and work creatively with the resources they have. She finds ways to get things done amazingly quickly even when there are major deadlines from the Provost's office directly in front of her. This year we had a shorter timeline than ever to get the budget done and she did amazing work.

Thank you to the 2019 Awards Committee: Amelia Derr, PhD; Kayla Huddleston, MSW; Hannah Tracy, PhD; Onur Bakiner, PhD; Kimberly Gawlik, JD; Roxy Hornbeck, MFA; Molly Clark Hillard, PhD; and Sonora Jha, PhD.