Recognition of excellence

2019-2020 faculty and staff award recipients
Learn more about the annual award celebration at wallawalla.edu/awards.

Thirteen members of the Walla Walla University faculty and staff were honored on May 19 at the annual WWU Awards Celebration CommUnity program. Their areas of expertise encompass a broad spectrum from art to engineering and from social media to theology. Congratulations to the following individuals who exemplify the WWU core themes of excellence in thought, generosity in service, beauty in expression, and faith in God. A recording of the CommUnity program, which was held online via Zoom, is available at wallawalla.edu/awards.


Adventist Excellence in Theological Teaching Award

Mathilde Frey, professor of biblical studies
The WWU School of Theology selected Matilde Frey to receive the 2020 Adventist Excellence in Theological Teaching Award based on her excellence in teaching and scholarship both on and off campus and for her commitment to Seventh-day Adventist theology.


C. Michael and DeLona Lang Bell Outstanding Teaching Award

Curtis Nelson, professor of engineering
The C. Michael and DeLona Lang Bell Outstanding Teaching Award was presented to Curtis Nelson, professor of engineering, for his many years of exemplary service in the School of Engineering and his leadership in starting the WWU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Nelson excels in his area of discipline and is widely recognized as an outstanding teacher. He is exemplary in integrating faith with rigorous thought, has consistently high faculty evaluation rankings, and participates in regular, professional, and fair administration of evaluations.


Community Service Award

Austin Archer, professor of psychology and education
The WWU Community Service Award was presented to Austin Archer, professor of psychology and education, for his many years of service in a variety of capacities on the WWU campus and in the local community. Archer has served on many WWU governance committees and has been elected twice to serve as Chair of the Faculty. He has been a member of the Rogers Adventist School board and served as chair of that board for two years. He has served in various capacities at the University Church, including as an elder for many years and two terms as head elder. Archer is part of a group of volunteers doing re-entry work at the Washington State Penitentiary to help prepare inmates for their release. As part of that work, he helped form the Successful Transition and Re-entry (STAR) Project and has served as a STAR board member and as president of the board. Archer was also instrumental in leadership at the SonBridge Community Center and was appointed as a trustee of the Walla Walla County Rural Library District in 2017.


2020 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer

Dave Thomas, professor of practical theology and apologetics
Dave Thomas was chosen for this honor based on his long and distinguished career in teaching at WWU and his positive influence on the lives and careers of WWU theology and religion majors as well as the overall student population. Thomas’s classes in Systematic Theology and Issues of God and Faith have helped students grapple with some of the most challenging questions about God and have reached the needs of many students who are exploring questions of faith. The Distinguished Faculty Lecturer is a WWU faculty member who is distinguished in leadership, teaching, and scholarship, who is involved in governance, church, and community service, and who has something important to say. In November 2020 as the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, Thomas will address the university community in a public lecture.


Diversity and Inclusion Award

Beverly Roper-Archer, administrative assistant for the Office of Diversity
As the longest serving employee at WWU in the area of diversity, Beverly Roper-Archer has demonstrated meritorious service in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. From 1996 to 2008 Roper-Archer was director of multicultural services at WWU, and for the past two years she has been a valuable leader and asset in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.


Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship

Joel Libby, assistant professor of art
In recognition of his significant achievement in scholarship, presentations, and publications, and his original contributions to his field of study, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship was presented to Joel Libby. Libby’s unique and colorful paintings are on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, at Integra LTC, at Smith Pharmaceutical, in the WWU Clyde and Mary Harris Art Gallery, and in various departments across the WWU campus.


Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching

Michaelynn Paul, professor of nursing
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Michaelynn Paul for her demonstration of the craft and high standards of excellent teaching. Her students call her “truly excellent,” “a phenomenal teacher,” “extraordinarily knowledgeable,” and “challenging and caring.” Paul demonstrates the WWU core themes of excellence in thought, generosity in service, beauty in expression, and faith in God as she uses real-world experiences to prepare students for the nursing profession.


School of Business Teaching Award

Conna Bond, associate professor of business
Conna Bond received the School of Business Teaching Award in recognition of outstanding teaching, mentoring, and advising. Bond received high praise from her students for her outstanding work in the business department and was recognized by business majors and recent graduates as exemplifying the core values of WWU.


Stephen and Margaret Tan Engineering and Computer Science Excellence in Teaching Award

Doug Thomsen, associate professor of engineering
Doug Thomsen was awarded the Stephen and Margaret Tan Engineering and Computer Science Excellence in Teaching Award for his teaching excellence, which expertly combines theoretical knowledge with industry examples. Thomsen’s students praise him for being readily available and for doing an exceptional job at explaining difficult concepts.


Walla Walla University Excellence in Advising Award

Eunice Muriu, assistant professor of nursing
The Excellence in Advising Award was presented to Eunice Muriu for outstanding student advising on the basis of student evaluations. WWU students recognize Muriu for providing encouragement, guidance, and helpful support for their academic, personal, and spiritual lives. Students praised Muriu for her “courteous and sympathetic approach,” “guidance in selection of classes,” “genuine care and encouragement,” and “Christlike character shown through words and actions.”


Rising Staff Member of the Year Award


Alix Harris, web content manager
The Rising Staff Member of the Year Award was presented to Alix Harris in recognition of her energy, enthusiasm, knowledge, and innovative ideas. Harris’s work to manage WWU web content and social media play a key role in sharing WWU with the world and increasing brand recognition for the university. Harris also contributes to WWU branding through her graphic design skills and assistance with webinars. Her colleagues praised her for her “willing and helpful attitude,” “insight and critical reasoning,” “creative solutions,” “careful research,” “friendly smile,” and “calm and easy demeanor.”


Staff Member of the Year Award (hourly)

Lana Van Dorn, office manager for the School of Business
Lana Van Dorn was presented with the Staff Member of the Year Award for an hourly employee in recognition of her work to exemplify outstanding dedication, competence, performance, ​and customer service. In her work as the School of Business office manager, Van Dorn is instrumental in keeping the department running smoothly. She interacts with students regularly and supports the work of faculty. Her colleagues praised her “stellar organization and follow-through,” “excellent customer service,” and “cheerful, sunny manner.” One of her colleagues said, “She is always there to serve, encourage, care for, help, counsel, and love our students and faculty.”


Staff Member of the Year Award (salary)

Erika Sanderson, director of Human Resources
The Staff Member of the Year Award for a salaried employee was presented to Erika Sanderson in recognition of her work to exemplify outstanding dedication, competence, performance, ​and customer service. Her nominations for this award came from a wide spectrum of WWU employees who said “she does her work with grace and compassion and professionalism,” “she makes our students, faculty, and staff feel heard and valued,” “she tracks the most minute details seemingly effortlessly,” and “I have appreciated her mature and professional approach to every situation.” Others described her as “superlatively helpful,” “very knowledgeable and always willing to assist,” “remarkable, supportive, and willing to speak for me,” “friendly and caring,” and “kind, professional, compassionate, thorough, thoughtful, approachable, hard-working, and wise.”

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