Dickinson State University (DSU) proudly celebrated the outstanding achievements and contributions of its faculty and staff at the 2024 Faculty and Staff Service Awards ceremony, held on Thursday, May 9, 2024, in the DSU Student Center Ballroom. The event honored individuals across various categories, including Distinguished Educator of the Year, Innovative Teacher of the Year, Professional Contributions Award, Excellence in Teaching Award, Adjunct Faculty Recognition Award, Physical Plant Staff Service Award, Administrative Staff Service Award, and Professional Staff Service Award.

The 2024 Faculty and Staff Service Awards ceremony at Dickinson State University underscored the institution's deep appreciation for the dedication, innovation, and excellence demonstrated by its faculty and staff members. By celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of its faculty and staff, DSU not only honors their hard work and dedication but also inspires others to strive for excellence in their own roles.

DSU President Steve Easton shared, "At Dickinson State, our students benefit from having some wonderful staff and faculty. It is good to formally recognize a few of them with these annual awards."

Distinguished Educator of the Year- Dr. Debora Dragseth, Professor of Business and Baker Boy Professor of Leadership, School of Business and Entrepreneurship

Dr. Debora Dragseth was selected as the Distinguished Educator of the Year for 2024. This prestigious accolade recognizes Dr. Dragseth's exceptional contributions to education, both within Dickinson State University and the wider community.

Dr. Dragseth's dedication to innovative teaching practices, her selfless commitment to DSU, and her tireless service to various academic and community organizations set her apart as a true leader in education. Her influence extends far beyond the classroom, with alumni frequently acknowledging her impact on their careers and lives.

As the Baker Boy Professor of Leadership, Dr. Dragseth has organized impactful events and initiatives, further enhancing DSU's academic reputation. These include the Red Paperclip Project and the Leadership Rising Conference. Her dedication to service and philanthropy underscores her commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Innovative Teacher of the Year- Dr. Sarah Manka, Assistant Professor of Biology, School of Applied Sciences

Dr. Sarah Manka was named the Innovative Teacher of the Year for her exceptional teaching methods. Dr. Manka engages students through technology, active learning, and experiential activities, fostering deep understanding and critical thinking.

From utilizing open-source software in Wildlife Management to facilitating discussions on environmental policy, Dr. Manka creates dynamic learning environments where students apply concepts to real-world scenarios. Her innovative games and activities in biology labs make learning interactive and memorable. In Animal Physiology, Dr. Manka creativity shines as she encourages students to design superheroes or villains based on real animal physiology, sparking engaging discussions. Her dedication to innovative teaching enriches student experiences and makes her a deserving recipient of this honor.

Professional Contributions Award- Dr. Elizabeth Freedman Fowler, Assistant Professor of Biology, School of Applied Sciences

Dr. Elizabeth Freedman Fowler is the recipient of the Professional Contributions Award for her outstanding impact to academia and paleontology. Dr. Freedman's work extends across multiple domains, showcasing her commitment to advancing knowledge and fostering academic excellence. Her paleontology fieldwork in Montana alongside her husband, Mr. Denver Fowler, has yielded numerous scientifically significant discoveries, including rare fossils like tyrannosaurs, hadrosaurs, and pterosaurs. Their research, which includes CT scanning of several skulls, continues to enrich our understanding of prehistoric life.

Furthermore, Dr. Freedman's enthusiasm to mentoring and inspiring future scientists is evident in her summer fieldwork program, which attracts volunteers worldwide and has already led to research opportunities for DSU students. Her ability to engage students in meaningful research projects underscores her impact on the academic community.

Excellence in Teaching Award- Dr. Brian Holder, Assistant Professor of Music, School of Education

Dr. Brian Holder has been awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award for 2024. Dr. Holder has demonstrated a commitment to music students' success, providing them with guidance and support to excel academically and professionally. His passion for music is evident in his teaching, inspiring students to reach their full potential and fostering a deep appreciation for the art form.

Dr. Holder's research on “Secondary Instrumental Music Education in the Rural Great Plains” has gained recognition at state and regional conferences, showcasing his expertise and contributing valuable insights to the discourse on music education. His innovative approach to teaching and research has solidified his reputation as a teaching scholar. Dr. Holder's leadership in the National Association for Music Education collegiate chapter has led to national advocacy awards, raising awareness of the importance of music education and empowering students to become proactive agents of change in their communities.

Adjunct Faculty Recognition Award- Elizabeth Weiss, Adjunct Faculty of Nursing, School of Applied Sciences

Ms. Elizabeth Weiss has been honored with the Adjunct Faculty Recognition Award at Dickinson State University. Ms. Weiss's dedication to excellence in teaching and her significant contributions to student learning make her a truly deserving recipient of this recognition. As a valued member of the Department of Nursing for several years, her dynamic and engaging teaching style creates an enriching learning environment that ensures students receive the highest quality education possible.

Ms. Weiss's willingness to lend a helping hand and her reliability have made her a trusted and respected member of the faculty. Her extensive knowledge and expertise in her field enhances the educational experience for her students, providing them with valuable insights and practical skills that prepare them for success. Ms. Weiss's pivotal role in implementing education unit clinical rotations further shows her commitment to enhancing the educational experience for students. Her contributions have been instrumental in ensuring the smooth operation of these important rotations.

Adjunct Faculty Recognition Award- John Secord, J.D., Adjunct Faculty of Law, School of Professional Studies

Mr. John Secord, J.D. was selected for the Adjunct Faculty Recognition Award. Since the fall of 2021, Dr. Secord has been dedicated to delivering high-quality, relevant education to students in the master's programs at DSU, particularly in the area of Sports Law.

Mr. Secord's provides an authentic learning experience in his coursework, where he challenges students to think critically about real-world problems. He ensures that his teaching remains current and impactful, encouraging students to apply their knowledge to practical scenarios, allowing him to provide an excellent learning environment for his students.

Physical Plant Staff Service Award- Candyce Sattler, Custodian, Facility Operations

Candyce Sattler has been honored with the Physical Plant Staff Service. Candyce's warm and welcoming presence is immediately noticeable, as she consistently goes above and beyond to greet everyone with a friendly hello and check-in on their well-being. Throughout the past school year, her tireless efforts in maintaining the cleanliness and organization of Klinefelter Hall have been invaluable, ensuring that everything is prepared and ready for tours and events.

Her support plays a crucial role in fostering a positive environment that benefits not only our students but also the faculty and staff on campus. Candyce's devotion to her work and service exemplifies the standards of excellence within the Physical Plant staff.

Physical Plant Staff Service Award- Gavin Haas, Maintenance Worker, Facility Operations

Gavin Haas has received the Physical Plant Staff Service Award. In his relatively short time with DSU, Gavin has showcased notable growth and eagerness to contribute, and he has strived for excellence in his role within the facility operations team.

Throughout the past year, Gavin has exhibited a willingness to learn and a proactive approach to assisting with various projects across the campus. Despite being new to DSU, his commitment to professional development is evident as he continues to adapt to his role. One of Gavin's most notable attributes is his ability to ask questions and ensure that tasks are completed to the satisfaction of all parties involved. His willingness to seek clarification and his charge to deliver high-quality work has made him an invaluable member of the Physical Plant staff.

Administrative Staff Service Award- Connie Klien, Payroll Manager, Human Resources

Connie Klein has been honored with the Administrative Staff Service Award. Connie's dedication, professionalism, and exemplary service have made her an invaluable asset to the DSU community. Connie's wealth of historical knowledge and insight has been instrumental in guiding the direction of services and ensuring exemplary support for all employees. She consistently goes above and beyond to share her expertise, patiently explaining processes and providing guidance to her colleagues.

Connie's compassion and dedication to employee well-being are commendable. During challenging times, such as payroll changes, she demonstrates exceptional care by reaching out to affected individuals, providing support, and advocating for their needs.

Professional Staff Service Award- Laura Fetting, Technology Education Coordinator, Information Technology Services

Laura Fetting received the prestigious Professional Staff Service Award. Laura's dedication and commitment to excellence have made her an invaluable asset to the DSU community.

Throughout her tenure, Laura has demonstrated expertise in her field and a desire for continued learning as new technology emerges, consistently going above and beyond to ensure the success of her department and DSU as a whole. Laura's significant contributions, both in her day-to-day responsibilities in the Office of Information and Technology Services and within her service roles, exemplify her attitude towards continuous improvement. Laura’s innovative ideas and strategic thinking have been instrumental in keeping staff across campus informed and empowered to fulfill their roles to the best of their abilities.

Professional Staff Service Award- Nicky Kadrmas, DSU Bismarck Program Advisor and Coordinator, DSU Bismarck

Nicky Kadrmas has been honored with the Professional Staff Service Award. As the DSU Bismarck Program Advisor and Coordinator, Nicky's professionalism, commitment, and quality performance have made her an asset to our institution. Nicky serves as the backbone of our Bismarck campus, playing a vital role in various aspects that contribute to the success of our students and the broader campus community. Her impressive knowledge and expertise in her field, combined with her welcoming demeanor, create a positive and inclusive environment that fosters growth and success for all.

As a passionate advocate for our students, Nicky goes above and beyond to understand their needs and challenges, providing them with the resources, encouragement, and opportunities they need to thrive academically and personally. Her genuine devotion to supporting students exemplifies the qualities celebrated by the Professional Staff Service Award.

Congratulations to the 2024 award recipients!

To view photos of the Faculty and Staff Service Awards Ceremony please visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dickinsonstateuniversity/albums/72177720316829947.