W Magazine Spring 2019

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SPRING 2019Education at WMUIN THIS ISSUE: Building school leaders: Boosting student literacyHockey high-fives Bronco hockey thrilled fans in 2018-19. The team…
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SPRING 2019Education at WMUIN THIS ISSUE: Building school leaders: Boosting student literacyHockey high-fives Bronco hockey thrilled fans in 2018-19. The team completed its regular season run in third place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, tying the program's best finish. Senior forward Colt Conrad, No. 29, particularly loves interacting with the youngest fans in Lawson Ice Arena. “I still remember being in their shoes,” says Conrad, who recently signed a two-year contract with the Toronto Marlies, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. “When I was younger and went to watch hockey games, I would look up to the guys who were playing. And there were always one or two guys who would go out of their way to give a fist bump, throw a puck, or say a couple words. That's all it took to make my whole week. It may not seem like much, but as a kid, it was a big deal. It doesn't take much to reach up and tap them and, in a way, kind of thank them for being there.”1CONTENTS 8. Elevating Education for All “WMU has been a driver in addressing the regional, state, national and global needs for educators for more than a century. Since its inception in 1903, WMU has impacted millions of lives through preparing committed and well-equipped education professionals.” —Dr. Ming Li, dean of the College of Education and Human Development10. Building School Leaders: Boosting Student LiteracyExecutive Editor Paula M. DavisContributing Editorial StaffZinta Aistars Jeanne Baron, M.A. ‘89 Chris Killian, B.A. ‘01 Deanne Puca Catherine VanDerMaas, B.A. ‘06, M.A. ‘09 Teresa VentimigliaArt Director An intense school leadership development effort aims to lift literacy in high-poverty schools14. Tops at Teaching An elementary school teacher, alumna and WMU instructor is Michigan's top teacher16. Driven Educator Pays it ForwardKim C. Nelson Creative Team22. Survive, Thrive, CareMark Bugnaski Madeleine Fojtik, M.A. ‘12 Debbi Kreps, B.S. ‘88 Shelli Osterhout Bradley HorstmanContributing PhotographerTwo four-legged rookies have joined WMU's police force26. Next-Level LearningMonty Brinton/CBS Mike LankaQuestions or Comments? Contact Paula M. Davis at paula.davis@wmich.eduThe W Magazine is published quarterly. It is owned by Western Michigan University, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5433. Views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the University. WMU is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action institution and a member of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities as well as the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.2A childhood burn survivor, a nursing student, a story that inspires24. Campus K-9sProduction StaffFrequency She's pursuing a calling, not simply a career Waldo Library’s Virtual Reality Lab offers revolutionary learning4. University News 20. Expert Insights 28. Why I Give 30. Classnotes 31. In Print 32. In Memoriam On the cover: Third-grade teacher and WMU alumna Jill Palmer with her students Audrey Dennis and Cherrity Wilson at an elementary school east of WMUwmich.edu/magazineDedicationWhen Ashlee Thompson was a student in Benton Harbor, Michigan, her teachers were her support system. For the love of community and kids, she has returned to the struggling district to serve as a teacher and exemplar. “I want to be a role model and tell kids nothing is out of their reach, even if they come from a challenging place.â€?3Engineering helps enhance mobility for veteransDear Friends, Featured in this edition of the W Magazine are stories from our College of Education and Human Development. We take great pride in the University's role in advancing K-12 education through our research, school leadership development expertise, and preparation of talented teachers and other scholastic professionals. One of the college’s instructors, Laura Chang, who also teaches second grade in a local elementary school, is Michigan’s teacher of the year for 2018-19. Her district's superintendent says she is a “classroom teacher who principals rely upon, parents lobby for, colleagues admire and enjoy working with, and students love.” Do you recall the first schoolteachers who encouraged your learning? Are there lessons they taught or experiences they created in their classrooms that continue to benefit you to this day? Or perhaps you remember a school principal as your difference-maker. My mind goes back to third grade and Mrs. Straukler, who took me on an exploration of science and knew just how to excite and cultivate my curiosity. There was also Mr. Sullivan, my fourth-grade math teacher. He helped nurture my love for math and played an early but significant part in encouraging inclinations that later led me to a career as an economist and a professor. These early influencers, these teachers, not only schooled me in subjects, they helped set a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning and meaning. That's what educators do for millions of students every day. It's a high calling. It's crucial work. And it deserves to be lauded.Expertise in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences is being tapped as part of a project to bring an autonomous electric shuttle to a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The $2.2 million project—New Autonomous Mobility Vision for Michigan—is funded through the $8 million Michigan Mobility Challenge announced in 2018 by Michigan’s former Gov. Rick Snyder before he left office. The challenge addresses transportation gaps for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities and includes a vehicle that is driverless, disabilities accessible and produces zero emissions. The project is a collaboration with Pratt & Miller Engineering, the project lead, WMU; the University of Michigan; Kevadiya Inc.; Robotic Research; Comet Mobility; and Easterseals. “Our role in the project is to provide autonomous vehicle simulation analysis, environment mapping, and testing support in the western Michigan region,” explains Dr. Zach Asher, the principal investigator for WMU’s portion of the project and an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. The autonomous electric shuttle can hold up to four passengers at a time, or a wheelchair rider with two passengers.Asher says the autonomous electric shuttle will provide veterans with extended hours of service at a VA medical center campus in Battle Creek, a community about 20 miles east of WMU, and make it easier for them to order and schedule services. The technology does not utilize a driver, pedals or a steering wheel. However, there will be a safety operator in the vehicle at all times to take control, if needed, Asher explains. The vehicle can hold up to four passengers at a time, or a wheelchair rider with two passengers.Over the past century, thousands of would-be educators have come to WMU to acquire the skills necessary to do the crucial work of helping children thrive in schools across the country and the world. They graduate prepared to improve the lives of their pupils, and they do. Please join me in saluting them.“New autonomous technology can fill this mobility need now, and completing this project has the added benefit of enabling larger future projects that fill other mobility needs throughout western Michigan,” Asher says. “With WMU’s ever-expanding network of high-profile collaborators, we will be able to continue pushing innovative and practical automotive research.”Best wishes,The project will involve making updates to WMU’s Automotive Lab, including setting up new computer workstations that can run vehicle design software and autonomous control simulations, updating a chassis dynamometer to run more advanced tests, and installing an electric vehicle charger. ■Edward Montgomery, Ph.D. President4wmich.edu/magazineUniversity News Proven leader joins WMU as VP for development and alumni relations Following a national search, Kristen R. DeVries, previously vice president for university advancement at Lawrence Technological University, joined WMU as vice president for development and alumni DeVries relations in January. She also will serve as executive director of the WMU Foundation.honored that I’ve been asked to join such an excellent group.” Prior to being tapped by WMU, DeVries led all fundraising and alumni engagement activities at LTU. She first joined the Southfield, Michigan, university in 2016. During her tenure there, she increased the level of giving every year. In addition, theuniversity experienced a recordsetting increase in the number of individual donors, social media engagement increased tenfold, and new technologies such as text to give and crowdfunding were implemented. Previously, DeVries served as senior associate vice president for strategic engagement and advancement operations atDrexel University; associate director of relationship management, operations and performance improvement at the University of North Texas; and an administrator in fundraisingrelated posts at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, National Jewish Medical & Research Center, and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. ■DeVries fills a critical role at WMU, joining the enterprisewide effort to advance the strategic direction of the University. In leading WMU’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations, she will oversee a comprehensive fundraising campaign; manage corporate, foundation and major gifts; and preside over all other fundraising activities. She also will be responsible for alumni engagement activities, as well as promoting engagement with faculty, staff and students. As executive director of the WMU Foundation, she will work closely with WMU’s president and with the WMU Foundation Board of Directors to set and meet fundraising goals. “With Western Michigan University’s leadership on such an impressive trajectory, it’s a tremendous time to join the University and to engage even more constituents in the great future ahead of us,” DeVries says. “I’m very impressed by the quality of WMU’s development and alumni relations professionals, as well as that of the faculty, deans and other academic leadership. I feelDunbar Hall to be transformed with $40 million renovation Dunbar Hall, one of the most heavily used classroom buildings on main campus and home to more than a dozen academic programs, is slated to undergo $40 million in renovations.classroom layouts, additional student workspaces, and major technology upgrades for teaching and learning spaces.The project to majorly modernize Dunbar involves stripping down the 78,000-square-foot, nearly 50-year-old building to its structural skeleton and creating an interior that meets contemporary educational needs.“Without a doubt, we will benefit from having modern technology in classrooms that will allow our faculty to use innovative, active learning strategies that are difficult to implement in small classrooms designed in the late 1960s,” says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which has many programs in Dunbar.The overhaul includes completely reconfiguredThe renovation also includes all new electrical, mechanical,heating and cooling, fire suppression, and alarm systems. Some $30 million from the state of Michigan and $10 million in funding raised by the University, including through philanthropic support, will pay for the renovation. The project is set to begin in the spring of 2020 and be complete in time for fall classes in 2022. The newly modernized facility will be energy efficient, designed for sustainability and renovated with the intent to achieve LEED Gold certification. ■News5Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness celebrates grand opening The University recently celebrated the opening of the Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness in the Haworth College of Business. This center was established with a generous multimillion-dollar gift by alumnus Todd Sanford, CEO and founder of Sanford Financial Services of Portage, Michigan.SanfordStars of “The Neighborhood” pose with Buster Bronco. From left to right, Marcel Spears, Cedric the Entertainer, Buster, Max Greenfield and Sheaun McKinney.Buster Bronco featured on CBS comedy ‘The Neighborhood’ WMU and its beloved mascot, Buster Bronco, were featured in an episode of the CBS comedy “The Neighborhood” in March. Starring Cedric the Entertainer as Calvin Butler and Max Greenfield as Dave Johnson, “The Neighborhood” depicts two newly neighbored families getting to know each other in a Los Angeles community. Dave hails from WMU's hometown, Kalamazoo, but he moved his family from Michigan to LA. In the March 25 episode, WMU's basketball team is taking on the University of Southern California Trojans during March Madness. While Dave demonstrates his fanatical love for the Broncos, Calvin's fandom is with the Trojans. Comedy ensues as each fan rallies for his team. The full episode is available on the sitcom’s website, cbs.com/shows/the-neighborhood. ■Through the center, trained students will provide financial advice and resources to fellow students and community members, under the supervision of experienced financial planners and faculty.The center also seeks to build the financial planning talent pipeline by engaging students in WMU’s personal financial planning major. The financial planning industry has a couple of significant issues facing its future—a shortage of qualified employees and a need for a more diverse workforce, including women and individuals of color. Those are areas where the center will have a significant impact through student outreach. “Through research, we know that there is a critical need for certified financial planners and their services. The center will make both the personal financial planning major and the services of financial coaches more accessible,” says Dr. Jim DeMello, chair of WMU’s Department of Finance and Commercial Law. “This access is critical for our community and our country. We are so grateful to Todd for his generosity in making this center a reality.” A veteran in the field, Sanford has been honored on Barron’s Top Advisors List on multiple occasions, the Financial Times 400 List as a Top Advisor and Forbes Magazine’s State-byState List of Top Advisors. He also has been recognized as a Top 10 Financial Advisor at Raymond James for the past 12 years, out of more than 6,000 advisors. He has had a 35-year affiliation with WMU, including his time as a finance student in the 1980s, a stint as an adjunct professor of finance, and now as an advisor to a variety of campus programs as well as the new center. Sanford has received the Department of Finance and Commercial Law Outstanding Alumni Award and the Haworth College of Business Outstanding Service Award. His vision for the center in the college of business is to develop a resource that provides an integrated approach to personal finance and financial health in the region, with the goal of one day becoming a national model. ■Buster was busy behind the scenes on “The Neighborhood” set. 6wmich.edu/magazineUniversity NewsNCAA honors Bronco football for superior sportsmanship The 2017 football team has earned a 2018-19 NCAA sportsmanship award. WMU is the first institution in the history of the Mid-American Conference to win this prestigious honor. Bronco footballers were recognized for their role in the 2017 game at the University of Southern California, in which blind Trojan long-snapper Jake Olson took his first collegiate snap. Each year, the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct recognizes displays of superior sportsmanship. Any moment of sportsmanship across all NCAA-sanctioned sports can be nominated under its award program. Established in 1999, the program recognizes a male and female award recipient from Division I, II and III, as well as one former or current coach or administrator. WMU won in the male recipient category for Division I schools.“We are very humbled to receive this award for our small role in Jake Olson’s incredible moment,” says WMU head coach Tim Lester. “I’m proud of our players for doing something bigger than the game. Credit also goes to Coach Helton and his USC Trojans.” Lester received a special request from No. 4 ranked USC's head coach Clay Helton prior to the two programs’ 2017 season opener. Helton asked Lester for his help in allowing Olson a free attempt on an extrapoint snap during the upcoming game. The two coaches reached the agreement that each team would not rush an extra point attempt during the game. Olson, born with cancer in his retinas, lost his right eye at age 10 and his left eye at age 12. However, Olson worked to live out his dream to play football, becoming a letter winner at USC. In the 2017 game, WMU was giving the fourth-ranked Trojans all they couldhandle as the game was tied at 28-28 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, so Olson’s moment was held until the end of the game. With 3:13 left to play, USC had finally built a cushion that would hold for the eventual win. Helton gestured across the sidelines to Lester to give the sign, and Olson was sent onto the field following the Trojans’ final touchdown. Before that moment, Lester had kept the deal a secret from his players and his staff. “I had 10 seconds to bring the players over and clue them in as to what’s going on,” Lester says. “I told them the situation, what it meant and what it stood for. “They said, ‘Yes, sir,’ and there was never any hesitation from our team. You could feel the energy and how special that moment was. Olson put the snap right on the money. I was proud of him and proud of our players.” ■News7Elevating education for all WMU was established more than 115 years ago as a “normal school,” a preparatory school for individuals dedicated to educating pupils during their critical formative years.Since its founding, what was once Western Education at WMUState Normal School has evolved to offer a wide variety of academic disciplines and is today one of the nation’s comprehensive research universities.But far from forgetting its roots, WMU has seen its teacher-education enterprise likewise grow in complexity over the decades. Moreover, the University’s heritage in helping to support and engender highquality K-12 education remains a strength and a source of pride for WMU, which has conferred thousands of education degrees. The College of Education and Human Development graduates go on to teach and lead schools across the country; and the college’s faculty members are also engaged in research and service designed to improve outcomes for teachers, pupils, school districts and entire communities.8wmich.edu/magazineFrom offering at-risk middle schoolers social and emotional support services to creating literacy-improvement programs to educating career changers who want to become classroom teachers, the college’s expertise in teaching and learning is making a meaningful difference. Among the college’s latest major undertakings is a three-year effort aimed at intense school leadership development in 76 high-poverty schools in 20 Michigan counties. Funded by a $12.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant, the High-Impact Leadership for School Renewal Project is aimed at two major outcomes—developing a strong pool of practicing school leaders and improving student achievement through literacy. “WMU has been a driver in addressing the regional, state, national and global need for educators for more than a century,” says Dr. Ming Li, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “Since its inception in 1903, WMU has impacted millions of lives through preparing committed and well-equipped education professionals with its diverse program offerings, innovative educational practices, and diverse and challenging educational experiences.” ■More than 77,000 have earned a credential from the college.STUDENTS77,000+2018-1
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