Four Educators of the Year named by MnSCU Board of Trustees

Posted: April 20, 2011

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

Winners chosen from among 33 Outstanding Educator nominees

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees Wednesday presented the system’s highest academic honor, the Educator of the Year Award, to four faculty members from Central Lakes College, Inver Hills Community College, Rochester Community and Technical College, and Riverland Community College.

The four honorees were selected from among 33 Board of Trustees Outstanding Educators in the Board of Trustees Excellence in Teaching award program. They are Elizabeth Picciano of Central Lakes College, David I. Page of Inver Hills Community College, Pamela Anne Tranby of Riverland Community College, and Catherine Egenberger of Rochester Community and Technical College.

“These faculty members demonstrate clear and consistent excellence in serving students and their communities,” said Scott Thiss, chair of the Board of Trustees. “When Minnesotans are enrolling in our colleges and universities in greatly increasing numbers, it’s gratifying to know that faculty like these are preparing them for the future.”

Chancellor James H. McCormick said: “I am proud that we can highlight the depth of excellence of our faculty with these awards. The honorees exemplify what we value most in this system – high-quality teaching, service to students and community, and scholarship and professional expertise.”

The winners are:

Elizabeth Picciano


Elizabeth Picciano



Elizabeth Picciano, instructor of reading and college and career studies at Central Lakes College. Reviewers said Picciano’s enthusiasm for educating students jumps off the pages of her portfolio. She’s the type of instructor who can push her students in ways they didn’t know they could be pushed. Her classroom techniques and ideas for serving the institution are ones that any teacher would want to borrow. Her use of the “InterviewStream” technology, for example, helps students prepare carefully and realistically for getting a job. Picciano helps students understand their own strengths. Her use of a “contract” teaches students the meaning of commitment and responsibility.

David I. Page


David I. Page



David I. Page, instructor of emergency services at Inver Hills Community College. Reviewers said he not only has adopted best practices in his field, he has defined them. He requires internships and student research, and continually finds ways to improve. He created an evaluation system now used by 700 emergency medical services programs across the United States. He developed an online paramedic exam and a case study scenario book, and he writes assessments that evaluate students across cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains. “You expect so much,” his new students say; then, after starting in the field, they say, “I’m so glad you were my instructor.”

Pamela Anne Tranby


Pamela Anne Tranby



Pamela Anne Tranby, instructor of biology at Riverland Community College. Reviewers said she uses engaging methods and innovative assignments: human immunodeficiency virus epidemic simulation, forensic case studies, a “cemetery demographics” exercise in statistics. She’s done the hard work of developing biology labs that work for online classes. She applies both qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate her teaching throughout her courses, not just at the end. Tranby expects her biology students to be strong critical thinkers. She redesigned and researched the effectiveness of lab skills testing as part of her American Society for Microbiology Scholar in Residence project.

Catherine Egenberger


Catherine Egenberger



Catherine Egenberger, art instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College. Reviewers said Egenberger’s students say she can take a hard-to-teach course and get them to enjoy what they are learning. She provides a well thought-out explanation of why she teaches the way she does and shows that she continues to think about the best ways to engage her students. Her assignments make art and history are alive to students who would rather just be on Facebook. She also stays in touch with students through email and responds to every student’s online posts.

The four honorees were selected from 33 Outstanding Educators nominated by the presidents of their institutions. A panel of judges that included faculty members, presidents, administrators and students reviewed the nominees and recommended the four honorees to the trustees. The board approved the recommendations at its Wednesday meeting.

This is the fifth year that the board has presented its Excellence in Teaching Awards. Each of the four honorees receives $5,000 and a handcrafted medallion. A short video about the program featuring the four award winners is available at Bold: botaward.mnscu.edu.

The other Outstanding Educators, by institution, are Anoka-Ramsey Community College – Melissa Bergstrom, Jennifer Liberty-Clark and Claudia Kittock; Century College – Cheryl Gfrerer, John Gingerich and Scott Simenson; Central Lakes College – Nancy Smith; Dakota County Technical College – Daniel Ruzicka; Hennepin Technical College – Tiffany Hammond and Jill Woodruff-Gerold; Inver Hills Community College – Josephine Books; Lake Superior College – Matt Whitehill and Jane Worley; Minneapolis Community and Technical College – Kathleen Sheerin DeVore; Minnesota West Community and Technical College – Richard Dalrymple; Normandale Community College – Denise G. Chambers, Willie J. Johnson, Debra J. Sidd and Linda Tetzlaff; North Hennepin Community College – Craig Longtine and Deane Newborg; Northeast Higher Education District – Robert Zbikowski at Hibbing Community College and Christopher Koivisto at Vermilion Community College; Ridgewater College – Julene Bredeson; Rochester Community and Technical College – Gerald Casper; Pine Technical College – Melissa R. Felland; St. Cloud Technical and Community College – Geraldine Hotz and Melissa Lilndsey; and Saint Paul College – Kurt Kortenhof.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system employs more than 9,000 full- and part-time faculty. This year’s 33 faculty members who are being honored represent less than 1 percent of the system’s full-time teaching faculty. Comprising 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota, the system serves about 277,000 students per year in credit-based courses and an additional 157,000 students in noncredit courses.


Minnesota's 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve more than 430,000 students across the state.