Honoring our 2020 Faculty and Staff Award Winners

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Every year at this time we celebrate faculty and staff for their accomplishments in teaching, research, community engagement and contributions to the UW, our campus and the larger community.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In this case, even with all the change we are experiencing as we fend off a global pandemic, some things serve as our lodestar, a reminder that the fundamentals of higher education remain in place.

Case in point: the spring season of celebration. Commencement is the climax, and there is the annual cavalcade of awards and honors by which we recognize faculty and staff who have made their mark at the UW, on our campus and in our community.

Distinguished Teaching Award

The Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates a mastery of their subject matter, the ability to engage diverse students both within and outside of the classroom, and strives for innovation in course design.

  • Tanya Grace Velasquez, M.A.
    Senior Lecturer, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

    Ms. Velasquez's teaching is recognized for using high-impact, community-engaged teaching practices and individualized, long-term mentoring. She integrates knowledge of community and diversity into teaching and learning in the classroom and beyond. The Committee noted that her commitment to equity and excellence is at the very heart of what she brings the campus community.

Distinguished Research Award

Given annually, the Distinguished Research Award recognizes a faculty member who has achieved a record of notable scholarship or creative activity, who has generated new knowledge or creativity that impacts their intellectual discipline, and who has contributed to the intellectual climate of the UW Tacoma campus and its communities.

  • Edward Kolodziej, Ph.D.
    AssociateProfessor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

    Dr. Kolodziej’s research includes achievements in the area of water quality and contaminant fate and transport. He also engages with local and regional water quality efforts through The Center for Urban Waters. The committee recognized his impressive record of serving as the Principal Investigator on research grants and acknowledged his extensive publications in high-impact peer review journals and service on advisory and journal editorial boards.

Distinguished Librarian Award

This annual award recognizes a librarian whose contributions advance the mission of the Libraries and the University in the areas of teaching, learning, research, and innovative approaches to practice.

  • Justin Wadland
    Interim Director, UW Tacoma Library

Distinguished Community Engagement Award

Given annually, the Distinguished Community Engagement Award recognizes the important and innovative community-engaged and community-based work by faculty at the University of Washington Tacoma. Such work is based on an ethic of mutual benefit in which both the community partner and/or public and the university, its faculty, and/or its students benefit in ways not possible without the partnership. This work may be short or long term and may be with a single or multiple partners, and should have been active within the past three years. It may be focused on teaching and learning, research, policy, citizenship building, creative work, or community building.

  • Katie Baird, Ph.D.
    Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences
  • David Reyes, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership

Undergraduate Research Mentor Award

Each year, the tri-campus Undergraduate Research Symposium presenters are given an opportunity to nominate their mentor for the Research Mentor Award. Nominations are considered by a small review committee of faculty and staff.

  • Sharon S. Laing, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership

    “Dr. Sharon Laing is an amazing mentor because of her expertise in the field of research, sharing her experiences with students, and reaching out and checking on us constantly to see if we need any help.”  — Yusra Iftakhar, senior, Healthcare Leadership, UW Tacoma

    “After working with Dr. Laing, I have a newfound confidence in my research abilities and a new understanding of the importance of skills like inquisitiveness, humility, and teamwork in research.”  — Anna Lee Howard, senior, Healthcare Leadership, UW Tacoma

    “I remember when we started doing our research, I and my team members were having a difficult time figuring out a cluster and theme for our paper and Dr. Laing did not hesitate to spend extra hours with us.”  — Myai T Nguyen, senior, Healthcare Leadership, UW Tacoma

Distinguished Service Award

This award is designed to recognize outstanding staff members and their work. Honorees have demonstrated excellence in job performance, substantially exceeded in quality or quantity the performance expected for the position or assignment, provided inspirational service to the UW Tacoma community, made a significant contribution to the UW Tacoma mission or the off-campus community, or created an innovative resolution of a critical issue

  • Michelle Miller
    Divisional Manager for Sciences and Mathematics, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences
  • Susan Wagshul-Golden
    Director, Campus Safety & Security

Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award

The Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award is a tri-campus award presented by the UW Alumni Association that recognizes UW teachers who inspired and influenced their students long after they left their classroom.

  • John P. (Jack) Keating, Ph.D.

    The psychology professor, dean and vice provost played a critical role in creating the Department of American Ethnic Studies and helped to establish UW Tacoma and UW Bothell, opening the doors to higher education to first-generation students and students of color. Dr. Keating, who served as Dean of Branch Campuses from 1990-94 and went on to serve as chancellor at the University of Wisconsin - Parkdale for 10 years, passed away in 2016. You can read more about his career here.
Written by: 
John Burkhardt and Brian Anderson / May 22, 2020