Event highlights teaching, research, diversity and engagement

Contact: Deanne Puca
The outside of WMU's Fetzer Center.

WMU's Fetzer Center

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's "Spring Convocation: Recognition of Discovery, Diversity and Global Engagement" will take place Friday, Feb. 23, at the Fetzer Center and include remarks by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state Sen. Margaret O'Brien during two symposia.

The annual spring gathering will include events from Extended University Programs, the Haenicke Institute for Global Education, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of the Vice President for Research. They include Discovery Symposia, professional development workshops, a recognition luncheon, and convocation and awards, followed by a Gold Gathering reception. Other sponsors include the Office of the President and Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.


A Fulbright workshop for faculty and administrators runs from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in 1030 Fetzer Center. Another morning session from 9 to 11:30 a.m. features two Discovery Symposia, one on autism and another on mobility, running simultaneously. Calley and O'Brien will make opening and closing remarks at this time.

Extended University Program will hold virtual and augmented reality demonstrations in Room 1060 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

WMU's Emerging Scholar for 2017, Dr. Gellert Mezei, associate professor of chemistry, will speak at 1:15 p.m. on "Bioinspired Anion Binding by Nanojars." 

Presentations by Distinguished Faculty Scholar awardees for 2017 will follow and include:

  • 1:50 p.m., Dr. Thomas Gorczyca, "Atomic Physics in X-ray Astrophysics"
  • 2:25 p.m., Dr. Victor Cunrui Xiong, "Heavenly Khan: The Story of Li Shimin"
  • 3 p.m., Dr. Ping Zhang, "A Problem in Graph Theory and Its Curious History"

All talks will be held in in the Fetzer Center's Putney Auditorium.


An award presentation will begin at 3:45 p.m. in the Kirsch Auditorium. Award recipients in the following categories will be honored.

Extended University Programs

  • Innovative Teaching Award—Lori Brown, associate professor of aviation sciences

  • Innovative Teaching Award—Drs. Chad and Autumn Edwards, both professors of communication

  • Community Engagement Award—Nancy Hock, faculty clinical specialist for occupational therapy

  • Community Engagement Award—Dr. Matt Reeves, associate professor of geological and environmental sciences

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

  • Excellence in Diversity Award—Dr. Donna Talbot, chair and professor of educational leadership, research and technology
  • Trailblazers for Diversity Award—Marcy Peake, director of Diversity and Community Outreach Initiatives in the College of Education and Human Development and a faculty member in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Rising Star in Diversity Award—Dawnielle Simmons, graduate student representative on the College of Education and Human Development Inclusion and Diversity Committee, as well as one of the creators of the Student Assembly for Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion, a registered student organization at WMU

Haenicke Institute for Global Education, Global Engagement Awards

  • Dr. Jennifer Harrison, associate professor of social work
  • Barbara Caras-Tomczak, associate director of Student Support and Global Business Center in the Haworth College of Business

Office of the Vice President for Research Distinguished Research and Creative Scholarship Awards

  • Dr. Wendy Beane, associate professor of biological sciences
  • Dr. Elena Litvinova, associate professor of physics
  • Dr. Fahad Saeed, assistant professor of computer science
  • Drs. Patricia Reeves, associate professor of educational leadership, research and technology, and Jianping Shen, the John E. Sandberg Professor of Education and the Gwen Frostic Endowed Chair for Research and Innovation in education leadership, research and technology

WMU President Edward Montgomery will make closing remarks for the event. A Gold Gathering reception with appetizers and a cash bar will follow in the Fetzer Center lobby until 6 p.m.  

For more information about the day's activities, visit wmich.edu/research/spring-convocation-2018.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.

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