Special by Steven Krolak
Each year the Chancellor’s Awards celebrate academic achievement, diversity and service.
This year’s winners, honored at the annual State of Campus ceremony on September 15, have each made positive contributions to the standing, culture and atmosphere of IU Southeast.
Distinguished Teaching Award: Dr. Margot Morgan, Associate Professor of Political Science
Since arriving at IU Southeast ten years ago, Dr. Margot Morgan has earned an enviable reputation as an energetic innovator transforming the classroom into a space for imagination, curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and the passion for learning.
This year she added the Distinguished Teaching Award to the Trustees Teaching Award and Faculty Innovator of the Year honors already bestowed upon her in years past.
From organizing the Model United Nations for both high school and college students to introducing the Reacting To The Past simulations, and from serving as campus coordinator for the American Democracy Project to organizing mock caucuses and panel discussions on the importance of voting, Morgan is always finding new ways to make her material fresh, personal and relevant. Students emerge from her classes knowing more about their subject, but also about themselves.
As one of her students described her approach and its effect, “Dr. Morgan’s main focus is not on providing an idea so that the student can later regurgitate it back to her, but in getting the student acquainted with the idea and its many intricacies. In doing so, she leaves her students better able to recognize similar difficulties across works, and able to utilize said works to the students benefit.”
Morgan has long wished to see her picture beside those of other distinguished teaching honorees in the University Center, but her goals are larger.
“Every aspect of what I do at IU Southeast–teaching, running the Model UN Program, writing about civic virtue–is in the service of civic education,” Morgan said. “My hope is that by equipping the next generation with civic skills in the classroom, they will do all they can to improve the world outside the classroom. Our democracy needs their help!”
Research and Creativity Award: Dr. Kok Cheow Yeoh, Associate Professor of Fine Arts Graphic Design Coordinator
Through his publications and conference appearances, Dr. Kok Cheow Yeoh has helped to put IU Southeast on the international graphic design map. For example, his poster, “Hegemony” is included in The Gateway to Art, a prestigious and best-selling textbook.
Driven to bridge theory and practice, he has been tireless in devising avenues for his students to gain real-world experience. Among other efforts, he has invited world-class practitioners to campus for guest lectures and workshops to keep his students in touch with the latest trends and standards in the industry.
Yeoh’s efforts have reached a new level with the opening of Slyck, a brick-and-mortar store in downtown New Albany where customers can purchase Yeoh’s own work as well as crafts, designs, prints, and merchandise made by his students.
Yeoh designed every detail of the store, and envisioned even aspects such as the business plan, the website and hiring contractors as part of the art.
“The store serves as a three-dimensional canvas, allowing me to test ideas not only for effectiveness but also as an outlet to express and amplify my voice, beliefs, and values,” Yeoh said. “Hopefully, with hard work, luck, and the support of the community, Slyck could emerge as a dynamic space for artistic expression and commerce.”
Diversity Award: Kelli Dehr Bernedo, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of ENL/ESL Education Programs
Dr. Kelli Dehr Bernedo began her journey in ENL/ESL while still an undergraduate at IU Southeast, where she became aware of the needs of growing immigrant and refugee populations in Kentuckiana.
Following a formative study abroad experience, she worked with these populations in our area, consulted with the IU Southeast New Neighbors Education Center, and spent a year teaching outside the U.S.
Her journey has continued through her teaching and advocacy at IU Southeast, and her involvement in community organizations such as Louisville Latinx Education Outreach (LLEO) and Kentucky Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Since 2017 IU Southeast’s ENL/ESL program has grown from five to 100 students, an expansion catalyzed by Bernedo’s passion for teaching and expertise in strategic community engagement.
This year’s diversity award recognizes her leadership in organizing and hosting the Migration Simulation empathy experience in Fall 2022, which drew over 25 campus and community volunteers for more than 100 education students. She is also recognized for her role as campus representative for LLEO, which has played an active role in international campus events, including Week of Welcome.
“Diversity education is the core of who I am,” Bernedo said. “This award represents my dedication to the need to spread knowledge in this area and speak up for those who may not have a voice otherwise.”
Distinguished Service Award (Staff): Anita Harris, Building Custodial Services, Facility Operations
Talk to any visitor to IU Southeast, be it an Indiana University trustee or a prospective student, and you will hear how beautiful the campus is, both inside and out.
One reason is Anita Harris, who has served as a custodian for 18 years, bringing a trademark high level of cleanliness and consistent attention to detail to her areas. Her primary responsibility is Hillside Hall, but her years of experience enable her to attend to just about any space on campus.
That versatility, combined with genuine caring for the campus community, makes Harris a reliable go-to teammate during times of need, such as during the renovation of University Center, when she and her team worked extra-hard to keep the dust down so normal operations could continue.
In the same way, Harris can also be counted on to pitch in during storms, or to prepare for and clean up after the special events that bring faculty, staff and students together.
“Anita is very deserving of this award,” said Rob Poff, Facilities director. “She is a doer who helps whenever and wherever she is needed, and has the respect of her fellow employees.”
Beyond the award, there is another source of satisfaction for Harris, one she encounters almost every day.
“When the students come up to me and thank me for keeping things nice and clean,” Harris said. “They really do notice things and appreciate the little things that you do.”
Distinguished Service Award (Professional): Karen Richie, Counselor and Care Manager, Counseling and Psychological Services
For the past eight years, Dr. Karen Richie has offered personal counseling to students. Equally vital is her role as care manager of the campus emergency food pantry, for which she has now received the Distinguished Service Award.
Richie has expanded the food pantry from a small bookshelf of donated dry goods to a major pantry and five minor pantries with canned, frozen and refrigerated foods, as well as hygiene supplies, supported by donations, a partnership with Dare to Care, and a foundation account.
Her work with the pantries has helped to build awareness of food security concerns on campus, and to address them in a culturally relevant way.
“We were able to provide better access to food on our campus as well as engage more students in dialogue about food insecurity and mental health issues,” Richie said, reflecting on the past year. “Across campus, this expansion is developing a deeper culture of caring for students and each other.”
The food pantry is the most visible outward sign of Richie’s broader concern for student wellness as a counselor passionate about fostering holistic learning and personal growth. And while the Distinguished Service Award recognizes past accomplishment, it also provides a platform for Richie to advocate for students in need of help moving forward.
“With this award, I can bring greater awareness to the hidden struggles students experience,” she said.
Faculty Innovation Award: Christopher Proctor, Coordinator of Access Services in the IU Southeast Library, and Campus Accreditation Project Manager
The IU Southeast Library is more than a repository of books, it is the academic nerve center of campus offering a wide range of services essential to teaching and learning.
Students enrolled in the Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP) support Library faculty and staff. These students have traditionally worked from the circulation desk, checking materials in and out, answering questions about the location of materials, and shelving.
Christopher Proctor was inspired by his experience with HLC accreditation to bring high-impact teaching practices to the work-study experience, with an eye to increasing career readiness.
“I believed it could be strengthened to provide students with greater opportunities to develop and hone skills needed to be productive citizens and employees,” Proctor said.
To better understand how to foster career readiness, he mapped the student workers’ responsibilities and duties at the Library against the Career Readiness Competencies of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). While organizing and classifying tasks were well represented, there were gaps in other skills valued in today’s workforce, such as teamwork. He then developed a new training program that emphasized these skills through active, hands-on learning. Finally he designed new tests to measure the students’ mastery of the program’s goals. The tests revealed significant growth in learning across all categories.
Proctor’s overhaul of the system has transformed the work-study program into an unofficial non-traditional classroom featuring many of the same high-impact practices found in purely academic settings.
A full list of Chancellor’s Award recipients past and present may be found here.