July – September


Chloë Hughes: Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Chloë Hughes, the 2010-11 recipient of the Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Teaching, was raised in Oxford, England. She learned an undergraduate degree in French and her teaching license at the University of Sussex. As an elementary school teacher and a graduate student at the University of Brighton, she researched the language and literacy development of students struggling in the school system, and was awarded a distinction for her master’s dissertation.

Hughes moved to the United States in 1994, and spent a year as a volunteer literacy-teacher in many organizations in Portland. She worked with homeless children, recent immigrants to the U.S. and refugees from around the world. She also worked at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) where she worked with children with little or no speech. The following year, Hughes completed a post-master’s fellowship at OHSU, and later went on to do doctoral research investigating the language and literacy development of children with severe speech impairments and physical disabilities. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Brighton and worked as a consultant in public schools. Hughes’ scholarship has continued to focus on literacy  learning among individuals with disabilities and also how people with disabilities are portrayed in children’s and young adult literature.

In 2003 she transitioned to higher education when she came to WOU. Along with being involved with many forms of education, Hughes has also been a student in the U.K., France and the U.S. As Hughes says, “It’s been a rich experience that has allowed me to connect to my students.” Connecting with her students is integral to Hughes’ teaching philosophy. “My role is to form deep relationships with my students and to be deeply connected to my content, and to make my passions clear in class.”

Hughes’ students have noticed, and appreciated, her teaching style. One of her students, Stacey Reimers, nominated Hughes for this award. “There are no words to even begin to share the amount of effort, devotion, perseverance, and care she shows for every one of her students. Not an interaction has passed without a smile and wise words from Chloë. She is a true teacher.”

As someone who has studied abroad for an extended a mount of time, Hughes sympathizes with challenges faced by international students at WOU. Last term she had two international students that she met with regularly outside of class to help provide a support system. “I know the stresses of learning highly demanding academic stuff in a foreign language,” she said, adding that it’s very hard to be thousands of miles away from one’s family. “When difficulties arise, be these at home or in the new country, international students can quickly feel a sense of hopelessness and isolation.” Hughes is also deeply committed to multicultural education and educational equity. She serves in several capacities for the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) and is a board member for its Oregon chapter.

During her presentation at the Pastega Award Ceremony, Hughes expressed her frustration with school reform that has become fixated on high-stakes testing and standardized curricula, which she believes has created anxiety and indifference among students and resulted in the scapegoating of teachers. She congratulated her students who are going to great lengths to be excellent teachers by learning another language, increasing their under standing and commitment to multicultural education, adding an ESOL/ bilingual or reading endorsement to their initial license, or by earning an additional license in special education.

Dr. Kimberly Jensen: Excellence in Scholarship

For Dr. Kimberly Jensen, professor of history,scholarship is an integral component of her role at Western Oregon University. This year’s recipient of the Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Jensen has found a way to seamlessly blend her research and teaching roles. “I think that teaching and scholarship can’t be separated. You need to be constantly looking at and asking questions about the past, then convey that to students,” she said.

Jensen believes it is crucial for students to realize where history comes from. “Something that I hope I can convey to my students that we’re part of this broad struggle for human rights that isn’t finished; there’s a lot of work to do. Knowing that story is important. For us in Oregon, knowing the Oregon history of that is important as well. I also think My research helps energize my teaching because I try to bring examples from it to the classroom.” She even asks students to do their own research and they may get opportunities to participate in her process.

Most recently, a group of Jensen’s students wrote essays for the Century of Action website, which celebrates 100 years of Oregon women’s right to vote, sponsored by the Oregon Women’s History Consortium Board of Directors (of which Jensen services as the vice president/secretary). Women’s rights has always been an area of interest for Jensen.

“I really wanted to study women in history. I was very much influenced by my grandmother who was a nurse in World War I. She was someone who had broken a lot of barriers. I was also influenced by the second wave of the women’s movement in the 1970s. I felt that studying women’s history would be a perfect way to find out about those stories. When we know about our past, we can influence the present and future.”

Jensen earned her bachelor’s and master’s in history then went on to earn her doctorate from the University of Iowa, focusing on women and history. She joined WOU after completing her Ph.D. in 1992 and has been teaching history and gender studies ever since. While researching for her 2008 book “Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War,” Jensen came across Oregon activist and public health advocate, Esther Lovejoy. She is currently working on a scholarly biography about Lovejoy, an 1894 graduate of the University of Oregon Medical Department. Lovejoy was the first president of the Medical Women’s International Association, and from 1919 to her death in 1967, she was the director of American Women’s Hospitals, a
medical humanitarian organization.

“She is someone we need to know more about in Oregon. She really took the lessons she learned in Progressive Era Portland and then became a transnational activist,” said Jensen. She plans to continue her research on Lovejoy and has many plans to commemorate the centennial of woman suffrage in Oregon. Jensen will be the guest editor for a special issue of the “Oregon Historical Quarterly” in fall 2012, which will be centered on the topic of Oregon women and citizenship.

It’s clear that Jensen is enthusiastic about her work. “I’m very energized about my research because I think it’s really important that we think about how people have tried to make the world a better place. They’ve left us some work to do so it’s important to understand their strategies, what worked, what didn’t, so we could be active citizens ourselves.”

Nathan Sauer: Staff Excellence

Nathan Sauer, a native of the Willamette Valley and this year’s Mario and Alma Pastega Staff Excellence Award recipient, has been witness to major changes on the Western Oregon University campus over the past 15 years he’s worked at WOU. Sauer has been integral to the technological evolution of campus and the classrooms. As the multimedia systems specialist in University Computing Services, he has watched the progression from using VCRs and overhead projectors to fully integrated classroom systems with touch screen controls.

After graduating high school, Sauer worked in construction for a year then came to WOU in an entry-level position delivering A/V equipment to classrooms; making sure televisions, VCRs and overhead projectors were up-and-running. Since then his responsibilities on campus have grown. He’s responsible for the design, building, installation and maintenance for all 88 smart classrooms on campus.

Working with faculty has been a major component to Sauer’s work, and one of his favorite parts. Both deans on campus, Dr. Hilda Rosselli, the College of Education, and Dr. Stephen Scheck, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, jointly nominated Sauer for this award. They wrote, “Nathan Sauer is highly respected for his unrelenting dedication to keeping WOU’s technology needs up-to-date, his quiet and unassuming leadership style, his knowledge of technology, and his responsiveness at all hours of the day and week. We know that each term starts off with enhanced instructional systems because Nathan has worked tirelessly to prepare for the new term.”

Sauer indeed works tirelessly. He arrives to campus before classes start to make sure everything is in working order. He manages several student workers as well as online equipment requests and work orders from telecommunications. From his office, Sauer can monitor the systems and respond if a system goes down. Four years ago he began working with telecommunications and his duties have expanded to include network infrastructure, camera systems, phones, and digital signage. During breaks between terms, Sauer performs new installations. He took evening classes at Linn-Benton Community College for three and half years, passed his Oregon Electrical exam, and is now one of three licensed Limited Energy electricians at WOU.

The smart classrooms that Sauer works with can range in size between a small conference room to a full auditorium. A smart classroom is defined as a room with “installed technology.” This technology includes a full audio system, document camera, projectors, video playback and an installed computer. Sauer appreciates that his supervisor, Bill Kernan, allows him to go to trainings and spend the time doing research to ensure that campus is up-to-date with technology. “Bill has been a great boss to work with. He’s been very supportive of me. He allows me the freedom to make the choices that affect the classrooms,” said Sauer.

Recently Sauer worked on the new Health and Wellness Center. Sauer said this was a huge job as it contains seven new smart classrooms plus digital signage. Dr. Peggy Pedersen of the Health and Physical Education Division appreciates all the work Sauer did. “Nathan has been an incredible asset in planning for flexible, yet functional, access to >instructional technology in the multiple instructional spaces in the academic wing of the Health and Wellness Center. He is a great problem solver. He understands academia,” she said.