Four faculty and two staff members from OSU Institute of Technology have been named winners of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence Awards for 2015.
School of Arts & Sciences instructors Dr. Maria Christian and Dr. Regina Foster were recognized in the Innovative Practices category for their cross-disciplinary teaching project, A Tale of Two Disciplines: Lessons in Critical Thinking.
From left, Chef Aaron Ware, Andrea Gardner, Dr. Maria Christian, Dr. Regina Foster,
Celia Melson and James Bryd.
Andrea Gardner, global relations coordinator, and School of Culinary Arts instructors Chef Aaron Ware and Chef Celia Melson were recognized in the Collegiate Project category for their work coordinating the Rimonim Chef Exchange Program.
Created in 1978, NISOD is a member organization that promotes and celebrates excellence in teaching, learning and leadership at two-year institutions and technical colleges.
NISOD winners will be honored at the Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration held during the annual conference in Austin, Texas on May 24.
There’s a reason they’re called the basics— courses that cover knowledge and skills all students will need whether they pursue a career in fixing bodies of cars or bodies of people.
Dr. Maria Christian teaches communication, English and speech while Dr. Regina Foster teaches chemistry and biology, subjects that, on the surface, don’t have much in common except that both involve critical thinking.
So the two teachers devised ways to bring their curriculums together through research projects and presentations.
“It’s taking two different areas and using critical thinking to bridge those areas,” said Christian. “They see it in the science side and cross it over to the communications side.”
Students in Foster’s science classes take a research study or scientific article, digest it and understand it. Then they have to utilize their communications skills to make those scientific concepts understandable to those outside the science community, Foster said.
It’s something people in different service industries have to do all the time. Nurses have to explain medical conditions and procedures to patients. Automotive technicians have to explain the mechanics of an engine to a customer.
“That’s life. That’s social communication,” Christian said. “It’s a life skill that works across technical areas.”
Service to OSUIT
The closure of the Student Union Servery that limited food service early last year might have been an inconvenience for some on campus, but for James Byrd it was the beginning of the end of a major renovation project.
“It’s interesting when you’re working on a project like this, the planning starts years before the remodeling starts,” said Byrd, who proposed the cafeteria renovations at least two years before construction work began in November 2013.
“It’s really nice when you’re working on a project to have the support of the administration” he said. “ They gave me the reins and let me go.”
Byrd also credits Haley Holmes, dining services manager, with being a big part of the projects success.
“Haley was instrumental in communicating with me about the types of equipment we would need,” he said.
In April 2014, the $640,000 project was complete and the Servery reopened to rave reviews with better equipment and more food choices for students and employees.
“It kind of exceeded my expectations. It allowed us to provide more options, a better quality of product, and it improved the flow of customers,” Byrd said. “We have healthier choices and better selection; plus it’s a much safer environment for our food services staff.”
This project was the first renovation of the cafeteria since the Student Union opened nearly 30 years ago.
“I want this cafeteria to serve OSUIT for the next 25 years,” he said.
Many say the best way to experience a culture is through its food.
It’s a sentiment shared by School of Culinary Arts instructors Chef Aaron Ware and Celia Melson as well as Global Relations Coordinator Andrea Gardner, which is why the three worked to organize a chef exchange program with the Rimonim Culinary School in Tiberias, Israel.
Ware and Melson have both traveled to the culinary school in Israel in recent years, but in 2014, OSUIT’s School of Culinary Arts had the chance to host four chefs from Rimonim.
“The exchange provides a really good opportunity to give people on our campus an experience with a new culture, new ways of thought and new ways of doing things,” Gardner said. “The faculty as well as the students enjoyed seeing a different perspective.”
After Ware and Melson returned from their visit to Israel in 2013, they began working on building an exchange program.
“We started talking about how we would cultivate an exchange. During in the next 12 to 18 months we were formulating how this would work,” Melson said. “Everyone in the program wanted it to be successful. We took our time.”
Ware, who has visited Rimonim twice in 2012 and 2013, said being part of an exchange program was a great experience for those visiting and those hosting.
“It makes you more tolerant of things, more grateful for things,” he said. “It brought the world here to our students, right to their front door.”