May 16, 2017

St. Catherine University honors staff and faculty at annual awards ceremony

Service and Support Staff award winners Ashley Butcher and Cynthia Conley. Photo by Julie Michener.

St. Catherine University honored four staff members for their exceptional work and outstanding contributions to the University. Nominated by colleagues, staff members exemplify the mission and vision of the University in the course of their daily work and interactions with faculty, students and colleagues.

Service and Support Award

Ashley Butcher
Butcher coordinates student and faculty activities in the ASL/Interpreting Department. She is often faculty’s go-to person when they have tech issues and need assistance with the over 250 students taking ASL and interpreting courses each semester. She is the answer-person for students, both current and prospective, when they have questions. She was acknowledged for her resourcefulness, flexibility and generosity with her time and talents.

Cynthia Conley
Cynthia Conley was recognized for her steadfastness, calm demeanor and willingness to take on extra projects on the Minneapolis campus. She is very technically savvy and has assisted faculty and staff on the Minneapolis campus get up to speed on it very quickly. Colleagues praised her, saying it is impossible to talk with her and be in a bad mood afterward!

Administrative Staff Awards

Administrative staff awards recognize those who exemplify service, competence and creativity. From a group of 14 nominees, Brian Dusbiber, assessment analyst in the Institutional Research, Planning and Accreditation Department and Amy Mars, reference and instructional librarian in the University’s Library, were honored.

Administrative Staff Award winner Brian Dusbiber. Photo by Julie Michener.

Brian Dusbiber
Dusbiber was honored for his collaborative style and willingness to assist to any office or department with designing surveys and collecting data as well as coaching staff and faculty on how to use and distribute information. A leader in helping the institution provide an education and experience that contributes to student success, Dusbiber is credited for leading initiatives to improve the student experience and increase graduation rates. He is co-chair of the Retention and Completion Advisory Council that informs and influences campus wide thinking and processes regarding best practices to help students be successful while at St. Kate's and beyond.

Amy Mars
Mars initiated and launched St. Catherine University's “One Read for Racial Justice Program” with the book A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. She was honored for her efforts to provide opportunities for the St. Kate’s campus community to discuss race in Minnesota that speak clearly about the University’s mission as well as social justice. She brought together a diverse group of faculty, students and staff together for this initiative, sparking important conversations across the campus community. By partnering with the St. Catherine Mission Chairs and other units such as English and the Library and Information Science program, the One Read program was able to bring respected race scholars and women of color authors to campus.

Faculty of the Year Awards 

St. Catherine University recognizes faculty with its annual Faculty Teaching and Advising Awards. Nominated by members of the St. Kate’s community, faculty members selected for this honor represent the highest quality of teaching and dedication to effective mentoring and academic advising. These awards are made on the basis of:

  • maintaining high academic standards,
  • being an effective teacher, and
  • providing quality mentoring and advising.

The selection committee reviewed nomination letters and letters of support, course syllabi and materials, and course evaluations. Ten faculty members were nominated for the Faculty Teaching and Advising award and two winners were selected: Damon Kaphake, assistant professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Julie Bass, professor of occupational science and occupational therapy.

Damon Klaphake

Damon Klaphake was honored for setting what a colleague described as “a standard of teaching and advising that we should all aspire to.” He teaches "Anatomy and Physiology" in the associate degree programs — a class that is often challenging for students. He manages to find a way to help students overcome any obstacles, while maintaining rigorous standards, good humor, and grace. His students most commonly identify him simply as the “best teacher ever.” He is also a dedicated advisor—one who acts as an advocate and guide. He listens to the students’ goals and plans and works with each to find a path for success. Damon also holds them accountable and challenges them to strive for success. Students continue to stop and visit Damon even after their time in his classes is over.

Julie Bass

Julie Bass is a well-respected professor who has been with St. Kate's since 1990. She views teaching as a calling, as a sacred trust and privilege, and her teaching philosophy is grounded in the Sisters' belief in serving the dear neighbor without distinction. Bass teaches "Evidence Based Practice" and "Foundations of Research"—some of the most challenging and rigorous courses in the occupational therapy program. But her students come away from them with an appreciation of scientific methods and how they apply to patient care in occupational therapy. Colleagues describe how a recent student project turned into a standing-room-only presentation at a national conference. Students describe her as caring, genuine, passionate, enthusiastic and dedicated.

The awards were followed by the University's annual end-of-academic-year celebration, Dew Drop Bop, that features games, food and music. St. Catherine University commencement ceremonies were held Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21.