Posted: April 17, 2008

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees has given the system’s highest academic honor, Excellence in Teaching Awards, to four faculty members from Rochester Community and Technical College, Riverland Community College, St. Paul College and North Hennepin Community College.

The four honorees were selected from among 22 Board of Trustees Outstanding Educators. They are Robin Fruth-Dugstad of Rochester Community and Technical College, Suzette Overby of Riverland Community College, Daniel Paulnock of St. Paul College and Eugenia Paulus of North Hennepin Community College.

“The Board of Trustees Excellence in Teaching Awards are designed to acknowledge and reward exceptional professional accomplishments of individuals and to encourage ongoing excellence in teaching,” said Dan McElroy, who chairs the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee. “We know it is becoming increasingly important for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to be able to demonstrate to potential students, to employers, and to taxpayers that our academic programs and services meet objective and high standards for quality.”

Chancellor James H. McCormick said: “It is particularly appropriate that the Board of Trustees presents these awards for excellence in teaching. We know we have the state’s leading programs in many areas, but the core of program excellence is our teaching faculty. They are the ones who bring knowledge, experience and a passion for learning to our students.” More information on the winners follows.

Robin Fruth-Dugstad, a horticulture technology instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College. Reviewers cited her imaginative and appropriate use of critical-thinking and problem-solving activities. “She combines theory with practice and uses service-learning opportunities extensively to develop students’ awareness of the many aspects of the horticultural world,” reviewers noted. Fruth-Dugstad holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a master’s degree in horticulture from Iowa State University.

Suzette Overby teaches in and coordinates the human services program at Riverland Community College in Austin. Reviewers said her teaching methods and syllabi demonstrate her commitment to a student-centered classroom and her awareness of diverse student needs. Her use of assessment strategies displays an exemplary range of techniques to ensure student learning fits her course and program goals. She holds a bachelor’s degree in corrections and law enforcement from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a master’s degree in counseling and human services from DePaul University in Illinois.

Daniel Paulnock, a speech and communications instructor at St. Paul College. Reviewers said: Committed to teaching to students’ diverse learning styles, Paulnock uses cutting-edge technology to enhance innovations in instructional techniques. He introduced the first online classroom in speech and he validates student speech competencies against the standards in the industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in speech, English, education and broadcasting and a master’s degree in speech, education, communication and broadcasting, both from Emerson College in Massachusetts.

Eugenia Paulus, a chemistry instructor at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park. Reviewers cited: Commitment to student success is obvious in the ways she employs technology, student groups, one-to-one meetings, virtual environments and paperwork. She has been involved with the On-Line Web-Based Learning project at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to foster increased student success in her college. She ensures that an American Chemical Society standardized test is administered at every level of instruction. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, botany and zoology and a master’s degree in chemistry, both from Bangalore University; a master’s degree in chemistry from St. Joseph’s College and a doctorate in chemistry from Bharathidasan University, both in India.

The four honorees were selected from among 22 Outstanding Educators who were nominated by their college presidents. A panel of judges that included faculty members, presidents, administrators and students then reviewed the nominees and recommended the four honorees to the trustees. The board approved the awardees at its Wednesday meeting.

This is the second year that the board has presented its Excellence in Teaching Awards. Each of the four honorees receives $5,000 and a medallion hand-crafted in the jewelry design and manufacture program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Short videos of the four award winners are available at

The other 18 Outstanding Educators and their institutions are: Richard Kotasek of Century College, Sara Woodward of Dakota County Technical College, Roxanne DeLille of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Drew Goddard and Don Wood of Hennepin Technical College, Dorothy Rico and Kent Voelkner of Lake Superior College, Shirley Flittie and Barbara Hager of Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Rolf Mahlberg of Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Barney Klecker of Normandale Community College, Patrick Mathias of Northeast Higher Education District-Itasca Community College, Bonnie Andrys of Northland Community and Technical College, Gary Sorenson of Northwest Technical College, Amy Jo Maher and Kathy Jane Steffen of Ridgewater College, Lynn Guenette of Rochester Community & Technical College, and Lorie Costello of St. Paul College.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system employs nearly 11,000 full- and part-time faculty and comprises 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota.

Watch related videos

Select from four available videos by placing your mouse over the bottom of the video screen.

Videos also available on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities YouTube channel