Skip to main content

University outstanding teachers to be honored on Founders Day, February 19

2014 Outstanding University Teaching Award winners

Outstanding University Award Winners (from left) Julie Jung, Amy Christensen, Larissa Kennedy, Karen Stipp, Eric Varney, with Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Janet Krejci.

The Outstanding University Teaching Awards embrace the view that the best teachers have methodically and consistently worked over time to enhance teaching, knowledge, skills, and abilities.

This year, Illinois State University is honoring seven individuals who demonstrate the highest commitment to teaching and to student learning. They have demonstrated thoughtful, focused dedication to providing excellent learning experiences. The Outstanding University Teaching Awards are administered on behalf of the Provost’s office by the University Teaching Committee.

Honorees were recognized at the 2015 University-Wide Teaching & Learning Symposium. They will officially receive their awards at the Founders Day Convocation on February 19.

Julie Jung, Outstanding University Teaching Award, Category I
Julie Jung is an associate professor in the Department of English. She earned her Ph.D. in rhetoric, composition, and the teaching of English at the University of Arizona. She joined the faculty of Illinois State University in 1999, where she has taught courses at all levels, from general education courses to Ph.D. seminars. Outside the classroom, she mentors graduate students preparing for doctoral exams and writing dissertations and has also served as an academic mentor for the University Scholars Program, which awards scholarships to first-year students from traditionally underrepresented groups. Under her direction, the first student chapter of the Rhetoric Society of America was formed at ISU in 2009. As a rhetoric and writing scholar, Jung studies the complexities of human communication and believes the classroom is an ideal site for students both to experience these complexities and to develop strategies for negotiating them responsibly and well. She is especially invested in helping students develop what she terms a revisionary consciousness, a kind of attitudinal flexibility that garners a willingness to listen to and contend thoughtfully with other points of view.

Larissa Castriotta Kennedy, Outstanding University Teaching Award, Category II
Larissa Kennedy is an instructional assistant professor in the Department of History. She earned a Bachelor of Arts at Boston College in 1990. In 1997 she completed a graduate program in modern Chinese studies at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2000. She began teaching the History of Chinese Civilization at Illinois State University in 2005. In addition to teaching, Kennedy is an editorial assistant with the Warring States Project. She worked on a digital index of the Warring States text Zuo Zhuan, edited/copy-edited the first volume of the Warring States Papers, and edited/copy-edited Emergence of China. Kennedy also contributed several entries to the Japan at War encyclopedia.

Hulda G. Black, Teaching Initiative Award
Hulda Black is an assistant professor in the Department of Marketing. She earned a B.S. from Ferris State University in 2002, a M.B.A. from Grand Valley State University in 2004, and a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 2011. Black also received two graduate certificates from the University of Kentucky, one in health communication and another in statistics. Black began her career at Illinois State in August 2011. Black primarily teaches in the Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) sequence of ISU’s marketing department. She loves the classroom and bringing experiential projects to her students. Black has also developed a sport marketing course where her studentshear first-hand from sport marketing executives about the challenging and rewarding atmosphere inherent to a career in sport marketing. Black’s research focuses primarily on services marketing, specifically healthcare, health and wellness, sport and faith-based research.

Karen Stipp, Teaching Initiative Award
Karen Stipp is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, began her academic career studying psychology. She switched to social work while a junior at Olivet Nazarene University. Stipp earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and, later in 2011, a doctorate in social welfare from the University of Kansas. Between earning degrees, she provided social work services in Illinois and Indiana schools, in private practice, and in Kansas long-term care and assisted living facilities. Stipp’s research focuses in part on health care access issues, specifically children’s health and mental health care.

Sarah E. Hercula, Graduate Student Teaching Award, Level 1 – Doctoral
Sarah Hercula is an instructional assistant professor for the Transitioning Paraprofessionals into Teachers (TPT) program in the School of Teaching and Learning. She also currently teaches middle school mathematics part-time in New Buffalo, Michigan, where she lives. Hercula is a doctoral candidate in the English Studies program with an emphasis in linguistics in the Department of English. She received both her B.A. in secondary education (English and mathematics) and her M.A. in English with an emphasis on the teaching of English from Western Michigan University. She began her teaching career at Illinois State University teaching first-year composition courses through the English Department and eventually went on to teach courses in linguistics, grammar, literature, English as a Second Language (ESL), and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Hercula has developed a critical introductory linguistics pedagogy that centers on teaching of the basics of the field of linguistics in the context of language data from stigmatized language varieties, as opposed to the traditional method of using language data from “standard” or “academic” English. Her pedagogy promotes the development of pluralistic, linguistically principled language attitudes among her students and works to reveal and resist standard language ideologies and linguistic prejudice. This curriculum also forms the basis for her dissertation, which is in progress.

Eric Varney, Graduate Student Teaching Award, Level 1 – Master’s
Eric Varney is a graduate teaching assistant in the School of Communication. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Illinois State in 2009, Varney was accepted into the School of Communication master’s program. His research interests include leveraging social media to improve employee identification within organizations, employee retention/engagement, and identity creation through computer-mediated channels. In terms of teaching, Varney teaches COM 110, the basic speech course in the School of Communication, and he prides himself on creating a comfortable environment in which students can learn and thrive.

Amy Christensen, Graduate Student Teaching Award, Level 2 – Master’s
Amy Christensen is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she graduated from Marquette University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. She subsequently worked in the chemical industry for seven years in the areas of chemical production, water treatment, and quality control. Christensen earned a master’s degree in chemistry at Illinois State University in August 2014. Advised by Marjorie A. Jones, Christensen’s master’s research project investigated the inhibition of a sphingomyelinase enzyme in the parasite Leishmania tarentolae. The research goal was to identify whether particular bisphosphonate compounds could inhibit the metabolic pathway of sphingomyelin in the microbe and thereby hamper its growth. Christensen would like to continue research in this area in the future. Currently, she is a non-tenure track instructional assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. She teaches introductory chemistry laboratories such as CHE 112 and CHE 140.