Honors Convocation Names Professors Emeriti, Faculty and Student Awards

Melody Alsaker, Academic Honors Convocation keynote, 2019

May 03, 2019
Dale Goodwin ('86)

Three years ago Melody Alsaker was buried in a basement computer lab at Colorado State University, working feverishly to complete her Ph.D. in applied mathematics while focused on writing the necessary algorithms to produce images in the electronic medical imaging device she was building.

She was also facing the dilemma of whether to accept a tenure-track assistant professor position at Gonzaga, or follow a path to another Research 1 university.

“I deeply loved undergraduate teaching and felt devoted to a life of serving as a mentor to students,” she said, addressing the spring 2019 Gonzaga University Academic Honors Convocation as keynote speaker, April 23 on campus. But she also had gotten a taste for the excitement of international conferences, collaborative research with others all over the world, and the promise of making meaningful contributions to scientific understanding with the potential to better human lives. 

She worried that she’d have to give up one to achieve the other.

“To me, it felt like a cruel choice,” she told her assembled colleagues and students. “I cared deeply about the world of undergraduate teaching and the world of cutting-edge research, and the gulf between the two seemed vast.”

Faced with a tough decision, she accepted the Gonzaga position, and in the last three years, admittedly, she has grown so much as an academic, and as a person. “Importantly, I have come to understand that many of my initial fears were unfounded. I have learned a great many things from my wonderful and supportive colleagues.

“But my most important realization has been that Gonzaga, through its strong support of the teacher-scholar model, is a unique place where it is really possible to build a great bridge between teaching and research. Gonzaga is a place where I have been able to grow stronger in my teaching while deepening and expanding my research agenda.”

She shared one experience teaching and mentoring two undergraduate students through involvement in high-level research. As a result of their original research, the students attended an international conference as Alsaker presented their findings on medical imaging to leading researchers and mathematicians from all over the globe. “These experiences would not be possible for undergraduates at most other schools,” Alsaker said.

“To my utmost delight, I have found that at Gonzaga, it is really possible to exist in the best of both worlds.”  


2019 Faculty Academic Awards

Academic Citizenship: Andrew Brajcich, Accounting
Collaborative Work and Innovation and Teaching Excellence (Tenured): Ann Ciasullo, English; Sara Diaz, Women’s and Gender Studies; Jessica Maucione, English; Cynthia Stavrianos, Political Science
Open (Tenured): Chris Francovich, Leadership Studies
Open (Tenure Track): Meagan Ciesla, English
Open (Non-Tenure Track): Glen Frappier, Communications Studies
Professional Contributions: Emily Clark, Religious Studies
Teaching Excellence (Tenure Track): Chase Bollig, English
Teaching Excellence (Tenured): Ann Ciasullo, English; Andrew Goldman, History
Teaching Excellence (Non-Tenure Track): Adrian Leithauser, Business Ethics
Community Engaged Learning; Charlie Lassiter, Philosophy
Compass (Career & Professional): Joe Johnston, Sociology & Criminology

Professors Emeritus

Back Row: John Caputo, Communication & Leadership; Walter Teets, Accounting; Peter Pauw, Biology; Sam Leigland, Psychology

Front Row: Kathie Yerion, Computer Science; Amy Kelley, Law; Linda Pierce, Foley Center

four men stand behind three women, all faculty


Student Academic Achievement Awards (2018-19)

Highest GPA Awards

  • First Year Class Award - Sanskruti Tomar, Criminology
  • Second Year Class Award -Grace Elizabeth Redpath, Psychology
  • Third Year Class Award - Ciara Patterson, Math-Computer Science
  • Fourth Year Class Award - John Rosenberger (Recognized at Undergraduate Commencement)
  • William A. Garrigan, S.J. Award - Damon George (Recognized at Undergraduate Commencement)

Departmental Awards (College of Arts and Sciences Awards are presented Commencement Weekend)

  • Community Engaged Learning Student of the Year -Madeline Moen, Human Physiology
  • Human Physiology Major of the Year - Abigail Glenn
  • Jerome Nadal, S.J., Returning Adult Award -Tammy Berthiaume, Psychology
  • Scholar Athlete of the Year - Kelly Gilbert, Women's Cross Country, and Jacob Kempf, Men's Soccer, both Business Administration
  • School of Business Administration Excellence -Vanessa Fisher, Accounting
  • School of Education Excellence Award for Elementary Education -Jamie Osborne, Psychology
  • School of Education Excellence Award for Secondary Education - Megan Shultz, Music Education
  • School of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Senior -Siniva Areta, Mechanical Engineering
  • Pat Ruzyla Nursing Award -Angela Barnett and Leslie Scott
  • Nursing Outstanding Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Mariah Strykers
  • Nursing Outstanding Nurse Practitioner - Honey Newton
  • Nursing Outstanding Doctor of Nursing Practice - Robin Beard
  • Eva Lassman Memorial Student Research Award (Institute for Hate Studies) – Rev. Terri Stewart, Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership