Four Excellence in Teaching Award winners named by MnSCU Board of Trustees

Posted: May 20, 2009

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees today presented the system’s highest academic honor, Excellence in Teaching Awards, to four faculty members from Normandale Community College, Lake Superior College, Hennepin Technical College and St. Cloud Technical College.

The four honorees were selected from among 29 Board of Trustees Outstanding Educators. They are Chris Austin of Normandale Community College, Dorian Beaulieu, instructor of art at Lake Superior College; Ernie Parker, instructor of fluid power engineering technology at Hennepin Technical College; and Deborah Roiger, instructor of biology at St. Cloud Technical College.

“The Board of Trustees Excellence in Teaching Awards are a clear demonstration of the board’s strategic direction to promote and measure high-quality learning programs and services,” said Dan McElroy, who chairs the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee. “In honoring the best of the best within our system, we also can take great satisfaction in presenting to those outside our system the excellent faculty who are truly great teachers.”

Chancellor James H. McCormick said: “The faculty members who are honored today are living examples of how the core of program and college excellence is teaching and learning. These teachers are the ones who bring knowledge, experience and a passion for learning to our students. I am very proud that we are recognizing teaching as the cornerstone of our colleges and universities. For me, there is no higher calling.”

More information on the winners follows.

  • Chris Austin, instructor of economics at Normandale Community College. Reviewers cited Austin’s teaching methods for consistently using reverse design to plan courses, establish learning outcomes and chart a path to achieve them. He provides extensive platforms through which instruction can reach students at multiple places and at flexible times. He develops his own course materials and uses a range of collaborative and active approaches in designing classes—always with classroom assessment.
  • Dorian Beaulieu, instructor of art at Lake Superior College. Reviewers cited an emphasis on developing and helping students rediscover their creative talents and self-confidence. His use of problem-solving and small-group work informs his approach to artistic creativity. His respect for individual perception and the value of a creative attitude are integral to his classes. Student art exhibits also are a key component of his teaching methodology.
  • Ernie Parker, instructor of fluid power engineering technology at Hennepin Technical College. Reviewers cited Parker’s teaching methods for reflecting a learning-centered instructor who uses a variety of teaching tools—online or distance education, team learning, real-world problem solving and capstone projects. His syllabi mirror his belief that reflection followed by action govern the core approach to his teaching. His adherence to industry standards and demands help form and inform his retention strategies.
  • Deborah Roiger, instructor of biology at St. Cloud Technical College. Reviewers cited her teaching methods for being student centered and reflecting her awareness of diverse student needs. She engages students through the Socratic method and by creating real-world situations. She wrote the curriculum for a two-semester traditional anatomy and physiology class and then made it fully online. She also created a “living textbook” as part of the lab experience and developed a digital atlas to increase access to lab resources and more than 100 mini-lectures through streaming videos.


The four honorees were selected from the group of Outstanding Educators nominated by their college presidents. A panel of judges that included faculty members, presidents, administrators and students then reviewed the nominees and recommended the four honorees to the trustees. The board approved the recommendations at its Wednesday meeting.

This is the third year that the board has presented its Excellence in Teaching Awards. Each of the four honorees receives $5,000 and a medallion hand-crafted in the jewelry design and manufacture program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

The other Outstanding Educators and their institutions are: Debbie Allen, Anoka Technical College; Cynthia Annable, Lake Superior College; Don Baldus and Jean Marconett, both of Rochester Community and Technical College; Tawnda Bickford, Hennepin Technical College; Lynn Bollman, Judith Canney and Joseph Rine, all of Minneapolis Community and Technical College; James Brewers, Minnesota West Community and Technical College; Michelle Briski and Lynn Dreese, both of Saint Paul College; Kari Frisch, Central Lakes College; Kimberlee Giermann, Northeast Higher Education District-Mesabi Range Community and Technical College; Ronald Haraldson and Darcy Lease-Gubrud, Ridgewater College; Danyel Helgeson, Riverland Community College; Michele Jersak, Kris Peleg and Kim Schmitzer, all of Century College; Julie Johnson and David Rayson, both of Normandale Community College; Mitch Kohanek, Dakota County Technical College; Linda Ostrand, North Hennepin Community College; Benjamin Smith, Northeast Higher Education District-Hibbing Community College and Laurel Watt, Inver Hills Community College.