MnSCU Board of Trustees Presents 2015 Awards for Excellence

Posted: April 22, 2015

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 22, 2015 – The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees today presented the Awards for Excellence, honors conferred to recognize professional achievement and excellence. The awards included the Professional Excellence Award for Administrative Service Faculty and the Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

The Professional Excellence Award for Administrative Service Faculty, presented for the first time this year, recognizes exceptional individual professional accomplishment in key roles that service faculty fulfill including recruitment, retention, and placement for students. The selection criteria include exceptional work performance; advancement of the university mission; expertise, creative achievement, and professional development; and contribution to student growth and development. This award was presented to Shahzad Ahmad, director of multicultural student services at St. Cloud State University.

The Board of Trustees also presented the Awards for Excellence in Teaching, which acknowledge and reward exceptional professional accomplishment in teaching. Evaluation criteria include teaching strategies and materials; content expertise and professional growth; assessment of student learning and performance; and service to students, the profession, the institution, and the system. This is the ninth year of the awards. The awards were presented to Victoria Hutson, instructor of art, Lake Superior College; Elizabeth Longley, instructor of chemistry, Normandale Community College; Shana Petermann, instructor of biology, Minnesota State Community and Technical College; and Lisa Smith, instructor of chemistry, North Hennepin Community College.

“The faculty honored today have made an exceptional contribution to the extraordinary education we provide for all Minnesotans,” said Thomas Renier, chair of the Board of Trustees. “The work they do in teaching, curriculum development, advising, financial aid, registration, residential life, and student affairs is vital to our ability to serve students and communities in every corner of the state.”

“If our students are going to succeed in an increasingly complex world, there is no substitute for extraordinary faculty,” said Steven Rosenstone, MnSCU chancellor. “We have dedicated, talented, and creative faculty on all of our campuses. Today we honor some of the very best of them for their excellence in teaching and in fostering student growth and development.”

The 2015 Board of Trustees Professional Excellence Award for Administrative Service Faculty

Shahzad Ahmad head shot

Shahzad Ahmad, Director for Multicultural Student Services, St. Cloud State University.

Shahzad Ahmad’s name has become synonymous with the Multicultural Student Services (MSS) center that he has directed at St. Cloud State University for over 20 years. Under Ahmad’s leadership, MSS has provided a wealth of services ranging from leadership development and tutoring to collaboration with campus and community leaders that fosters successful academic and social experiences for students of color and underrepresented students. His colleagues, students, and president praise Ahmad for consistently stretching the reach of MSS and the university as a whole. St. Cloud State is, they say, a much more diverse and inclusive place because of the accomplishments of Shahzad Ahmad. Ahmad received his bachelor of arts in biomedical science and a master of science in international economics from St. Cloud State University.

The 2015 Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching

Victoria Hutson head shot

Victoria Hutson, Instructor of Art, Lake Superior College

Few of Victoria Hutson’s students plan to make art their career choice. However, nearly all leave her classes with greater skills, knowledge, and awareness of their own creative potential. While providing the setting for students to learn, apply, and integrate the knowledge and skills necessary for practicing art, her courses also address the social and personal needs of the students, including learning about themselves and others, developing new emotions, interests, and values, and becoming self-directed learners. Hutson has a bachelor of arts from the College of Saint Benedict with majors in both art and biology and a master of arts in visual arts with a specialization in art education from the University of Wisconsin.

Elizabeth Longley head shot

Elizabeth Longley, Instructor of Chemistry, Normandale Community College

Betsy Longley is truly committed to knowing and supporting her students. On the first day of class, she takes a photo of each student, asking them to write their name underneath, along with something about themselves they would like to share. After 15 years of teaching at Normandale Community College, Longley’s student “photo album” has thousands of photos in it, and she treasures it. Personal connections areat the core of her exceptional teaching methods. She believes that as they are learning, students want to be seen and feel a sense of belonging to their courses, to the college, and to the community. Longley earned a B.A. in chemistry from Hamline University and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.

Shana Petermann head shot

Shana Petermann, Instructor of Biology, Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Shana Petermann says that being an educator means communicating to students that “there is no place I’d rather be, or nothing I’d rather do, than serve as their tour guide into the amazing world of microbiology.” Her guiding principle is that her courses aren’t hers, but her students. “In this educational environment, students can take courses anywhere. When they choose a course I teach, it is a privilege,” she says. Petermann holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in microbiology from North Dakota State University, and worked there as a research scientist in the department of veterinary and microbiological

Lisa Smith head shot

Lisa Smith, Instructor of Chemistry, North Hennepin Community College

Lisa Smith began teaching at North Hennepin Community College in 2008, and she and her students have been on an upwards trajectory of learning ever since. Smith demonstrates expertise not only in her subject matter but in bringing theories of learning to practice in effective teaching. She keeps up to date with developments in her field and provides a wide range of services to her profession, but what makes her truly exceptional is the way she uses assessment to inform her teaching at every stage of the courses she teaches, and the ways in which she individualizes learning for her students. She uses qualitative and quantitative methods to collect and analyze data about her students’ learning and adapts her teaching

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system includes 24 two-year community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving more than 410,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system of its kind in the United States.