This blog was originally published on the Illinois News Bureau webpage on November 6, 2014.
George Czapar is an EUC-affiliated faculty member.
Five U. of I. faculty members have been named 2014-15 fellows of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation’s Academic Leadership Program.
The program provides leadership development for accomplished faculty members who are interested in learning more about academic administration. It is designed to introduce faculty members to issues and challenges in higher education and offers them opportunities to meet with leaders at CIC member institutions. Fellows are selected by each CIC campus; the CIC comprises the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago.
“The CIC Academic Leadership Program is a great development program,” said Elabbas Benmamoun, the vice provost for faculty affairs and academic policies and the campus CIC liaison. “The selected fellows, who come from different colleges on campus, get the opportunity to interact with each other and with more than 60 peers from across the CIC.
“In addition to on-campus meetings, the fellows attend seminars covering various topics at the forefront of higher education, such as affordability and access, diversity, globalization, budgeting and public engagement,” he said. “The fellows learn from experienced and effective leaders from various CIC institutions, and hear their insights about leading their complex organizations and dealing with different types of challenges. The feedback we consistently get from former fellows is that the experience was valuable and enriching. Some of our former fellows have gone on to become leaders on our own campus and at other universities.”
This year’s fellows:
Carla E. Cáceres is the director of the School of Integrative Biology and a professor of animal biology at the U. of I. Her research is focused at the interface of population, community and evolution ecology, and addresses questions such as how biodiversity influences community assembly and the spread of infectious diseases. In addition to her research funding from the National Science Foundation, she also is a co-principal investigator on two NSF training grants, one for graduate students (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) and one for undergraduate students (BioMath). She has been recognized for excellence in both research and teaching, including a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the Lynn M. Martin Award for Distinguished Women Teachers. She earned her B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. She joined the U. of I. faculty in 2001.
George F. Czapar is an associate dean and the director of U. of I. Extension and a professor of crop sciences. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in agronomy from the U. of I. and his Ph.D. in agronomy from Iowa State University. His research and Extension programs focused on interdisciplinary projects that address the environmental impacts of agriculture. He also teaches in the Campus Honors Program. He led a Strategic Research Initiative in water quality for the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) and helped establish the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (C-BMP). He previously was the director of the Center for Watershed Science at the Illinois State Water Survey at the Prairie Research Institute and water quality coordinator for U. of I. Extension. Czapar received the Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement and the Award for Excellence in Teaching and Outreach from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
Jan Erkert is the head of the department of dance at the U. of I. As artistic director of Jan Erkert and Dancers from 1979-2000, she created more than 70 works that toured nationally and internationally. Erkert and company have been honored with numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Ruth Page Awards for choreography and performance. She has received a Fulbright Scholar Award and is serving on the Fulbright Review Panel. She wrote “Harnessing the Wind: The Art of Teaching Modern Dance,” which was published in 2003, and she has been a master teacher at universities and colleges throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia. As a professor of dance at Columbia College Chicago from 1990-2006, she garnered many awards including the 1999 Excellence in Teaching Award, and she was a nominee for the U.S. Professor of the Year sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation.
Kevin T. Pitts is a professor of physics at Illinois. He earned his Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Oregon and after a postdoctoral position at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, moved to the U. of I. in 1999. Pitts has been active in high-energy physics research at Fermilab continually since 1994. His research thrust has been heavy-flavor physics and Higgs boson searches with the CDF Experiment operating at the Fermilab Tevatron. Pitts was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy Outstanding Junior Investigator Award in 2002, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2004, a Xerox Award for Outstanding Research in 2007, and was named a University Scholar in 2013. Pitts is now a member of the Muon g-2 experiment, which is slated to run at Fermilab later this decade. As an educator, Pitts has developed a number of new courses aimed at teaching physics and critical thinking to nonscientists. He received the Arnold Nordseick Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014. Pitts served as the associate head for undergraduate programs in physics from 2010-14 and became the associate dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering in 2014.
Michaelene M. Ostrosky is a Goldstick Family Scholar and the head of the department of special education in the College of Education. She has a strong track record of grant management, scholarly activity and student mentorship. Since arriving at the U. of I. in 1991, Ostrosky has been the principal investigator or co-PI on research, training and technical assistance, leadership and personnel preparation grants totaling more than $20 million. Additionally, she has mentored more than 30 doctoral students, and she has received college and campus awards for her teaching and research. Ostrosky has been involved in research and dissemination on inclusive education, social interaction interventions, social emotional competence and challenging behavior. As a former editor of the Division for Early Childhood’s practitioner journal, Young Exceptional Children, Ostrosky has much experience translating research into user-friendly materials for practitioners. Her more than 100 publications are evidence of her scholarly and applied work, particularly with preschool-age children with disabilities and their families.