Joan Hawthorne receives national recognition

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Joan Hawthorne receives national recognition

Joan Hawthorne, University of North Dakota director of assessment and regional accreditation, received the Jerry G. Gaff Faculty Award from the Association for General and Liberal Studies (AGLS) at the organization's 51st annual conference in Miami Oct. 6-8.

The award is given annually to those who have demonstrated leadership on their campuses in the area of general and liberal education though outstanding teaching and a record of achievement in curriculum development, innovation or implementation.

"This national recognition of Joan's commitment to excellence in general education spotlights UND's focus on enriching the student learning experience," said Steve Light, associate vice president for academic affairs. Thomas Steen, director of essential studies, and Anne Kelsch, program director of instructional development, nominated Hawthorne for the AGLS award.

The award is named for Jerry Gaff, senior scholar at the American Association of Colleges and Universities and a respected advocate for general and liberal education for more than 30 years. He has authored numerous books including Toward Faculty Renewal, General Education Today, and New Life for the College Curriculum and co-edited the Handbook of the Undergraduate Curriculum.

"A lot of my work is with assessment side, which has been very important in helping to shape UND's Essential Studies program," Hawthorne said. "We need to answer for ourselves whether we're doing general education correctly, examine how we're doing it and know whether we're reaching our goals. We need to know if we're actually helping students achieve the learning they need through this program."

In a letter supporting Hawthorne's nomination, Light wrote: "What stands out about Joan is not only her passionate commitment to general education and student success, but her fundamental understanding that evidence-based practices are imperative to ensuring that general education does what it is supposed to do for students."

In their nomination letter, Steen and Kelsch wrote, "As a direct consequence of her participation and leadership, UND has built a model program in general education and has demonstrably strengthened assessment across the board."

They also noted that Hawthorne has "become one of our campus' leading spokespersons for student learning, for our Essential Studies program, and for general education."

In 2008, UND received the AGLS award for improvement in general education when its revised general education program was implemented as Essential Studies.

Hawthorne has a bachelor's degree in sociology from South Dakota State University, a master's in education from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from UND in secondary/higher education. Her first teaching experience was in a one-room Hutterite school in Flandreau, S.D., where she taught nine students in grades 1-8.

Hawthorne has been at UND for nearly 25 years, starting as a lecturer and then serving as assistant director of composition. She coordinated the University's Writing Across the Curriculum program from 1991 to 1996 and was named adjunct assistant professor of Educational Foundations and Research in 1997. In 2003, she received UND's Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Faculty Development and Service. She accepted her current position in 2005.

AGLS serves colleges and universities by fostering strong general education programs. General education is that part of the curriculum required of all students and dedicated specifically to liberal learning - the development of knowledge, skills, values, and habits of mind characteristic of an educated person. The members of AGLS comprise a community intent upon improving liberal learning by advocating the centrality of general education and supporting its continuous improvement.

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