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The K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

Presented at AAC&U's 2012 Annual Meeting
January 25-28, 2012, Washington, DC


AAC&U is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2012 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award:

Benjamin L. Castleman, Quantitative Policy Analysis, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Sarah L. Eddy, Zoology, Oregon State University
Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz, Communication Studies, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Alexander Igor Olson, American Culture, University of Michigan
Ashley E. Palmer, Sociology, Baylor University
Ghanashyam Sharma, Rhetoric and Composition, University of Louisville
Martha Althea Webber, English (Writing Studies), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Timothy Wong, Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine

The Cross Scholars will be introduced to the AAC&U audience at the Opening Plenary at AAC&U's 2012 Annual Meeting. We invite you to attend the following session, 10:30-11:45, for an in-depth discussion with the Cross Scholars, introduced by K. Patricia Cross, on "Faculty of the Future: Voices from the Next Generation."

We are pleased to provide (below) more information about these outstanding individuals, and we hope you will have a chance to speak with them at the Annual Meeting.

Benjamin Castleman

Benjamin Castleman
Harvard Graduate School of Education

B.A. Honors, Environmental Studies, Brown University
Doctoral Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Ben Castleman is a Doctoral Candidate in the Quantitative Policy Analysis program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research focuses on policies to improve college access and success for low-income students. Several of his papers examine the financial and informational barriers to matriculation that students encounter in the summer months following high school graduation, and the extent to which seemingly college-bound low-income students change or even abandon their college plans as a result of these summer obstacles. He has conducted experimental studies to investigate how the offer of college counseling during the summer months impacts the rate and quality of low-income students’ college enrollment. In addition, Ben uses quasi-experimental methods to study the impact of state and federal need-based grant programs on students’ long-term collegiate outcomes.

Ben has held a number of teaching fellowships at Harvard, primarily in the fields of applied microeconomics and program evaluation. He has received two Harvard Presidential Instructional Technology Fellowships to develop innovative pedagogical approaches to enhance students’ learning in applied microeconomics courses. In addition, he serves as a residential proctor at Harvard College, supporting the academic and personal development of Harvard freshmen. He is also very interested in early childhood education and development, and serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Oxford Street Daycare Center at Harvard University.

Before coming to Harvard Ben was a teacher and district administrator at The Met Center school district in Providence, RI. He is a graduate of Brown University.

Sarah Eddy

Sarah Eddy
Oregon State University

B.S., Biology, Purdue University
PhD (expected 2012), Zoology, Oregon State University

Dissertation:  Male and female influence on male reproductive success in a terrestrial salamander, Plethodon shermani

Sarah Eddy split her graduate career between the study of communication in woodland salamanders and communication in the classroom.  Her research focused on the function of visual cues in salamander courtship as well as identifying the potential for post-mating sexual selection in her study species.  As part of this work, she mentored 10-12 undergraduates in methods in behavioral ecology research.

The second focus of her graduate career was teaching.  To increase her efficacy in the classroom she educated herself about current best practices in the teaching of science.  Early on she recognized that these teaching practices also interested her peers.  To facilitate the spread of this knowledge, she designed and taught three graduate level seminars on science pedagogy.  As a result of one seminar, graduate students developed five discovery-based laboratories that were implemented in the 1,000-student introductory biology series at Oregon State University.  Sarah also redesigned two upper division zoology courses to incorporate opportunities for biology students to develop scientific skills, such as data interpretation, critical thinking and question generation.  She received OSU’s Herbert F. Frolander Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in 2009 and in 2011 presented two talks at national teaching conferences based on laboratories and outreach activities she co-developed with other graduate students in her courses.

In addition, Sarah spearheaded the development of a graduate student committee in the Zoology department focused on expanding the role of science graduate students in K-12 outreach.  As part of the Outreach committee, she organized and won funding for two one-day evolution workshops for high school students.  Using this grant money, the Outreach committee specifically targeted more distant schools with a large number of students from historically underrepresented groups in the sciences to provide these students with an opportunity to visit a campus and experience laboratory research.  Graduate students developed the entire content of these workshops.  Sarah also designed a seminar for first-year graduate students to introduce the basics of developing outreach activities.  At the end of this seminar, participants had each developed and piloted a one-hour activity in their research area appropriate for a high school audience.  

Sarah has accepted a post-doctoral position in biology education research at the University of Washington exploring teaching methods that “close the achievement gap” between historically under-represented groups in the sciences and white and Asian students.  She will begin this position in the spring.

Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz

Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz
University of North Carolina

B.A., Communication and Culture, Indiana University
M.A., Communication Studies, University of North Carolina
Ph.D., (expected 2012), Communication Studies, University of North Carolina
Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, Duke University (expected 2012)

Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz is an American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellow completing her final year of doctoral work in Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a member of the Royster Society of Fellows, the premier graduate fellowship program at UNCCH, which provides five-year fellowships to the top 5% of graduate students in all disciplines.

Her teaching and research interests reside at the intersection of rhetoric, gender, race, reproductive technology and justice. Her dissertation explores the discursive terrain in which contemporary reproductive politics unfolds, with particular attention to the ways in which new reproductive technologies function to discipline women along lines of race, class, and sexuality.

Natalie is an enthusiastic teacher, dedicated to cultivating creative learning experiences for her students to encourage their personal, professional, and intellectual growth. She has developed and taught courses in rhetorical theory and criticism, gender and sexuality studies, social movements and feminisms. While all of her classes explore relationships among power, knowledge, and justice, Natalie has actively pursued opportunities to help her students connect theory and practice, to encourage collaboration between local and campus communities, and to integrate civic engagement, grassroots advocacy and social justice more thoroughly into the university classroom. In 2008, she co-authored a grant to develop and teach a service-learning course on communication activism that has led to multiple presentations at conferences, a chapter in the forthcoming volume, Communication Activism Pedagogy, and positions on the Advisory Board and the Student Programming Committee for UNCCH’s Service-Learning Initiative. Natalie has been honored to receive the 2003 UNCCH Students’ Undergraduate Teaching Award, the UNCCH Communication Studies’ Martha Nell Harding Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2009 and 2010, and the 2011 UNCCH Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Prior to pursuing her doctoral studies, Natalie worked in public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina and served on the Executive Board of North Carolina Women United. She received the 2007 Sarah Weddington Young Leaders Award for outstanding community advocacy on behalf of reproductive justice by a young person. Natalie continues to be involved with local reproductive health and social justice initiatives, and her service to the University includes leadership on the Executive Board of her Graduate Student Association, and promotion of diversity and inclusion through the UNCCH LGBTQ Center’s Safe Zone program.

Alexander Olson

Alexander Olson
University of Michigan

B.A., History with Honors, Stanford University
M.A., History, University of Washington
Ph.D. (expected 2012), American Culture, University of Michigan

Dissertation: “The People’s Classroom: Intellectuals and Public Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1870-1930”

Alexander Olson is a doctoral candidate in American Culture at the University of Michigan. Born and raised in Seattle, he completed his B.A. in History at Stanford University and his M.A. in History at the University of Washington.  Before moving to Michigan, Alex taught at Shoreline Community College and was the Joel E. Ferris Curatorial Intern at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane.  His dissertation examines public intellectuals who created non-traditional “classroom” spaces—campgrounds, discussion clubs, public lectures, coffee shops, and theaters—as venues for popular education and debate.  He has published in Western Historical Quarterly, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Southwest Review, and Boom: The Journal of California, winning the Bert Fireman Award in 2009 from the Western History Association for an article on photography, race, and heritage.  His work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, Huntington Library, Bancroft Library, DeGolyer Library, and Rackham Graduate School.

Alex is also interested in engaged pedagogy.  He organized and chaired a roundtable on “Teaching Public Scholarship: Problems and Possibilities” for the 2011 American Studies Association annual meeting in Baltimore, and he is currently a Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellow for Imagining America.  At Michigan, he created and taught an undergraduate course called “Making a Difference: The History of Public Scholarship.”  He has also taught U.S. Cultural History, Native American History, College Writing, and Film History.  He is a participating investigator with Julie Ellison, Founding Director of Imagining America, on “Citizen Alum,” a multi-institutional pilot program to rethink alumni relations within a framework of civic engagement.  “Citizen Alum” has been adopted by the action agenda of the American Commonwealth Partnership, an initiative of the White House Office of Public Engagement, AAC&U, and other partners.

Ashley Palmer

Ashley Palmer
Baylor University

B.A., Environmental Science, Stetson University
M.A., Sociology, Baylor University
Ph.D. (expected 2012), Sociology, Baylor University

Dissertation: "Few Good Men: Romantic Partner Selection in a Religious Marriage Market"

I am a doctoral student in Sociology at Baylor University. I began my graduate work at Baylor with a focus on the sociological study of religion. As my teaching responsibilities expanded to include the Sociology of Marriage and Family my research interests gradually shifted to coincide. I've brought the two areas of scholarship together in my dissertation in which I study firsthand how members of a highly religious subculture choose their mates.

During my time at Baylor I have taught a variety of courses in sociology. My early experience in the classroom heightened my awareness of many systemic issues plaguing higher education--concerns that brought me into contact with Baylor's Academy for Teaching and Learning. There, I became a Graduate Fellow in 2009, assisting with the development of faculty members and graduate students as educators. My role within the center expanded in early 2011, when I became the Assistant Director. In this capacity, I facilitate many of the center's teaching and learning initiatives, including oversight of the Graduate Fellows program and working directly with instructors to implement course blogging and new media in teaching.

My broader goal in higher ed is to help students develop (or rediscover) the intrinsic motivation to learn and to promote educational structures that support this. In my everyday life, I practice teaching, learning, and sociology on my five year old daughter, Olive. We live and learn together in Waco, TX.

Ghanashyam Sharma

Ghanashyam Sharma
University of Louisville

B.A., M.A., B.Ed.: Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
M.A., English, University of Louisville
PhD (expected, May 2012), Rhetoric and Composition, University of Louisville

Ghanashyam Sharma is a university fellow and doctoral candidate in the Rhetoric and Composition program at the University of Louisville, where he is completing a dissertation that explores how prevailing views about language influence the teaching and learning of writing in the academic disciplines. 

Shyam has worked as the assistant director of the University Writing Center and that of the Composition Program, as a graduate assistant to the dean of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, and has served as an executive member of several graduate student organizations. As an assistant to the graduate dean, he helped establish the PLAN initiative, a program designed to help graduate students successfully navigate graduate education—and better prepare for future careers—by developing professional, personal/life, academic, and social/networking skills. He has received various awards including the Barbara Plattus Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Maddox Prize for (research), Alice Eaves Barns Outstanding Master’s Student Award, and the University Fellowship. Prior to joining the University of Louisville, Shyam was a lecturer of English language, literature, and critical theory at Tribhuvan University of Nepal where he received his MA, winning the “Mahendra Bidya Bhusan” (a gold medal for academic excellence).

Committed to the idea that knowledge-making happens best through knowledge-sharing, Shyam is involved as a leader or member of professional organizations and networks like NELTA (the national organization of Nepalese English language teachers, whose flagship journal he edits), and the “Connected Community” initiative of College Composition and Communication. Shyam’s professional interests and expertise include teaching and research in writing, particularly in the disciplines, multimodal composition and digital scholarship, multilingualism, writing program administration, and professional development of students. For more information: www.shyamsharma.net

Martha Webber

Martha Webber
University of Illinois

A.A., Fashion Design, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College
B.A., English, University of California Los Angeles
M.A., English, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
PhD. (expected 2012), Writing Studies, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Martha Webber is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she has taught composition courses for the Undergraduate Rhetoric Program, the College of Engineering, and the School of Art & Design. Across disciplines, her approach to teaching encourages students to explore their connection to local and global communities through critical discussion and multimedia writing. Her dissertation, "Crafting Citizens: Multimodal Narrative Composition, Literacy Intermediaries, and the Amazwi Abesifazane South African National Quilt Project," explores global organizational communication as it connects and divides rural South African women, nonprofit and governmental organizations, as well as University of Illinois students enrolled in a project management course she developed through the College of Engineering "Learning In Community" program.

The research she conducted in South Africa with community arts nonprofit organization, Create Africa South, inspired a deep commitment to create engaged learning opportunities for students. In addition to the Learning in Community project that connected Create Africa South with University of Illinois students, she has also served on the planning board of Alternative Spring Break, a student-led service learning organization, as the Co-Chair of Educational Outreach (2009-10) and Co-Director (2010-11). She and her fellow Co-Director, Becky Long, were recognized by the University YMCA in Champaign, Illinois for distinguished service after organizing 30 service trips where nearly 400 students volunteered with nonprofit organizations across the United States. She also currently serves as the founding Writing Programs Coordinator for the University of Illinois Education Justice Project, a program that offers upper-division courses and co-curricular enrichment opportunities for incarcerated men. In addition to coordinating writing resources, workshops featuring local writing professionals, and establishing a creative writing award competition, she has also led workshops on academic writing and nonprofit communication for Education Justice Project students.

Timothy Wong

Timothy Wong
University of California, Irvine

B.A., Philosophy, University of California, Santa Cruz
M.A., Philosophy, University of California, Santa Cruz
M.A., Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
Ph.D. (Expected June, 2012), Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine

Dissertation: “Ex-centric Sovereignties: Shakespeare and the Rise of Constituent Power”

Tim Wong is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, completing his dissertation on Shakespeare and popular sovereignty, titled “Ex-centric Sovereignties: Shakespeare and the Rise of Constituent Power.” In “Eccentric Sovereignties,” he demonstrates how four of Shakespeare’s minor characters represent marginal forms of sovereignty of the common people, at odds with monarchy in Renaissance England. This project grew out of his love for Shakespeare, his interests in cooperative social enterprises, and his hope for a more just political structure and system of public higher education.

As the proud son of a university professor, provost, and architect of the Associated New American Colleges (now the New American Colleges & Universities), Tim strives to be a staunch advocate of diversity and civic service in higher education. Tim is a devoted teacher, having been awarded the UC Irvine Pedagogical Fellowship and the UC Irvine Division of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award.  His dedication to creating academic community is reflected in his collaborative projects and conference activities with his friends and colleagues. 

Tim’s most significant service achievement has been his role in saving UC Irvine’s distinguished humanities outreach program, Humanities Out There (HOT).  HOT brings faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, high school teachers, and high school students together in a joint undertaking to promote an appreciation for the humanities in at-risk public schools.  HOT also has a history of recruiting first generation college students from these schools.  In the wake of multi-million dollar budget cuts in the University of California system, the program was targeted for termination.  However, by forming a coalition of students, administrators, and faculty, Tim and his remarkable colleagues were able to raise the $60,000 needed to save the program.  Tim now serves as the assistant director of Humanities Out There.  

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