USF employee awards presented

The University of St. Francis recently presented awards to faculty and staff members who have excelled in their classrooms and on campus.

1113 employee awards - zhouThe Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Ling-Yi Zhou (Joliet), psychology professor in the College of Arts & Sciences. Zhou has exposed countless students to innovative teaching methods and interesting and challenging course material, while implementing new designs and research findings from other fields of study. According to her colleagues, Zhou, who incorporates different perspectives into her classroom, welcomes student opinions, uses examples from her own experience, and reminds her students about the importance of using their knowledge to enhance society, models a passion for learning and personal growth to her students each year.

1113 employee awards - grivettiExcellence in Scholarship Awards were presented to both June Grivetti (Tinley Park), associate professor of education, and Buster Ogbuagu (Joliet), assistant professor of social work.
Grivetti authored the complete overhaul of the Educational Leadership program in the College of Education (COE) in order to align it with new standards and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) requirements. Due to Grivetti’s research and synthesis of the material, the COE received approval from the state board to offer its revised principal preparation program becoming one of the first three programs in the state to earn approval. In addition, she wrote up the Teacher Leader master’s degree which was approved on January 2013 and is the first such program in the State of Illinois to be approved. Both the programs and Grivetti’s research now serve as a model upon which other institutions base their work as they submit their new programs for approval and accreditation.

1113 employee awards - ogbuaguOgbuagu has published five articles, has edited and published one book and has delivered multiple presentations as a voice for the Nigerian community. His research, public presentations and publications are all geared to social work policies and practice implications for providing services to Arabs, Muslims, Nigerian immigrants and their families. He presents his research in Canada and the United States on an annual basis. His insight into the lives of immigrants from war-torn areas of the world has been praised and used extensively by those in the helping professions that work with international adoptions, treatment and long term services to families new to the United States.

1113 employee awards - barwaThe Excellence in Service Award was presented to Robert Barwa (Crest Hill). Barwa serves on the advisory committee for the USF Challenge Center and Leadership Studies program; is a trained facilitator for the Challenge Course; serves on USF’s Hispanic Serving Institute Task Force; and is involved in other student-focused initiatives.

1113 employee awards - spesiaThe Innovation Award was presented to Tracy Spesia (Joliet), field experience coordinator in the College of Education. The Innovation Award recognizes those employees who have designed and implemented a significant innovation in any area of the university. Spesia’s creative and successful efforts with the implementation of the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment– a standardized assessment of teaching that is being required in many states for teacher certification) have positioned USF as a leader in the state. In addition, it enhances the quality of USF students’ application of theory into practice during their field experiences. The process involves extensive communication with area school districts and school administrators, training of cooperating teachers and university supervisors, and seamlessly integrating the new process into the student teaching experience. Her unique approach of holistically integrating the diverse components to create a unified support system for students is acknowledged among teacher educators state-wide as a valuable contribution to the field. In recognition of her leadership, she was appointed to the Illinois Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Executive Council as the private college edTPA representative.

1113 employee awards - hicksThe Student Affairs “Above and Beyond Award” was given to Lyle Hicks (Mokena), professor in the College of Arts & Sciences’ Recreation, Sport, and Tourism Management program. Hicks was honored for collaborating with USF’s division of Student Affairs, living out the university’s values, and demonstrating a high commitment to the holistic development of students in and outside of the classroom. According to the Student Affairs staff, Hicks has challenged, supported, and inspired students to enhance their growth as responsible and compassionate members of society. Specifically, he has been instrumental in supporting student leaders on campus, finding ways to keep them active both through student organizations and in the community. He has supported the creation and promotion of the Leadership Studies minor, in which students learn about leadership skills and their own leadership efficacy though theory and practice, as well as the work of the practicum students, whom he oversees in their work outside the classroom for student organizations and the non-profit sector.

1113 employee awards - robinsonFinally, the Franciscan Charism Award was presented to Brenda Robinson (Joliet), USF’s Call Center coordinator. This award recognizes an employee who enriches the lives of others through their service to USF students and the institution overall, and is based on the university’s Franciscan values of respect, service, integrity and compassion. Robinson’s colleagues indicate she has a high commitment to providing quality services to USF and the Call Center through careful identification of tasks and through the training and supervision of her staff. In addition to her work, Robinson spends hours mentoring and directing USF’s African American students and members in the Ethnic Affairs Council.

The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and science, business, education, nursing, health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit