State of the University address, revamped convocation set for Sept. 30

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of WMU President John M. Dunn

President Dunn

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University President John M. Dunn will deliver his final State of the University address Friday, Sept. 30, as part of a dramatically revamped WMU Fall Convocation.


  • Teaching and Learning Bash and Teaching with Technology sessions starting at 8:30 a.m. in 208-210 Bernhard Center.
  • A mid-day convocation from 10:45 to 1:30 p.m. that begins in the Bernhard Center South Ballroom with a campuswide award ceremony and Dunn's annual State of the University address, followed by a picnic lunch on the pedestrian mall in front of Sangren Hall.
  • Afternoon Assessment in Action sessions in 208-210 Bernhard Center from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Dunn announced his June 2017 retirement in August of this year, a move that makes this his 10th and final State of the University address since assuming the WMU presidency in 2007. Although this will be Dunn's last such address, the revamped convocation will feature a series of firsts—the first time a full day of activities has been coordinated around the event, the first time a picnic lunch is part of the mix and the first time previous honorees will play a major role throughout the day.

Morning events include a talk on "Making Connections through Community Service Learning" at 8:50 a.m. by Dr. Michael Nassaney, professor of anthropology, who leads the annual Fort St. Joseph Archaeological dig in Niles. Nassaney was honored last year with a Distinguished Teaching Award. His talk will be followed at 9:20 a.m. by a presentation on "Best Teaching Practices for Student Success" by Sue Ellen Christian, Michigan Professor of the Year and a WMU professor with a dual appointment in communication and gender and women's studies. She is a 2014 recipient of the WMU Distinguished Teaching Award.

Campuswide awards

The campuswide award ceremonies will include presentation in four award categories to nine outstanding faculty and staff members.

  • Four staff members are being honored with Make a Difference Awards—Sheila Atherton, associate director of accounting services-accounts receivable; Earl Conner, a custodian with building custodial and support services; Stacy L. Thinnes, assistant athletic director for special events; and Cynthia A. Town, administrative assistant in the Office of Institutional Equity.
  • Two faculty members will receive Distinguished Teaching Awards—Dr. Jennifer Machiorlatti, professor of communication, and Dr. Lisa Paulius, professor of physics.
  • One faculty member will be honored as an Emerging Scholar—Dr. Jessaca Spybrook, associate professor of educational leadership, research and technology.
  • One faculty member and one staff member each will receive a Distinguished Service Award—Dr. Howard J. Dooley, professor of history, and Amy J. Seth, director of University Recreation.

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