Vincennes University honors faculty and staff with Peer Recognition Awards

Vincennes University honors faculty and staff with Peer Recognition Awards

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October 22, 2019

October 22, 2019 / Vincennes University honors faculty and staff with Peer Recognition Awards

Peer Recognition Awards recipients photo

VINCENNES, Ind. – Vincennes University celebrated faculty and staff during a presentation of Peer Recognition Awards at a reception in Governor’s Hall on Oct. 21. VU President Chuck Johnson recognized the seven award winners for their outstanding contributions and dedication.

VU peers nominate faculty and staff based on exemplary service and performance. The President’s Advisory Committee then selects the recipients.

Award recipients include Jill Alsman, chair and associate professor of Nursing; Sarah Armstrong, supervisor of the SEM Learning Lab; Melissa Doll, custodian in the Summers Center; Debbie Hannah, technical services assistant for the Shake Library; Jessica Hess, chair and associate professor of Surveying Technology; Jamie Markle, technical services assistant for the Shake Library; and Curtis Rasico, Blackboard instructional technologist for the Center for Teaching and Learning.

“Vincennes University has the great fortune of having many outstanding people who are here every day committed to helping our students be successful, and giving them an environment where they can find opportunity academically and do their careers,” VU President Chuck Johnson said. “I’m very proud to work with these individuals and the many fine individuals here at VU.”

ABOUT THE RECIPIENTS - These excerpts were taken from each award recipient's nomination submission.

Jill Alsman, Associate Professor and Chair, Nursing

This past year, Jill unexpectedly stepped into both roles as nurse administrator and ASN chair, while maintaining her role as a professor in the RN-BSN program. She faced the responsibilities of these roles willingly and excelled while doing so. Jill is a democratic leader that takes the opinions and well-being of her faculty into consideration when making decisions for the program(s).  For example, she has organized required competencies for faculty to be completed before conclusion of spring contracts to allow for a smoother transition into the fall semester. Jill goes above and beyond to ensure that not only the faculty are successful, but also the students in each program  She is a frequent face in the classroom. Students know who she is and know that she is there for support or questions as needed. Jill maintains an open-door policy, inviting faculty feedback and supporting faculty with any issues that may arise. If she is not available in the office, Jill is a quick phone call or text away to help resolve problems or just for moral support. In addition, Jill is a committed member of her community and her local hospital, by dedication her weekends working as a nursing supervisor.

Sarah Armstrong, Supervisor SEM Learning Lab, Learning Support Services

Sarah Armstrong is a full-time Vincennes University employee who works tirelessly to enhance and assist students so they can be successful at VU. She interacts with a whole host of issues including tutoring, class-specific needs, academic accommodations, i.e. disability needs such as uploading tests into readers, proctoring exams, providing support to instructors, engaging students one-on-one, and encouraging her staff to reach out in order to help retain VU students.  If you visit the SEM Learning Lab any day of the week; you will see Sarah’s influence not only on students seeking help, but on her employees, and instructors interacting with Sarah to administer classes, labs, and exams. Sarah genuinely has a passion for helping VU students. Sarah is one of those unique individuals who is not only intelligent, organized, but she sincerely cares for VU student’s success. And the students know she cares. Other VU employees are often in the SEM Learning Lab utilizing Sarah’s resources; and she goes out of her way to connect students to campus resources. Sarah has a gift to adapt quickly to any situation to accommodate students, while maintaining VU standards for reporting/forms. She has helped with my courses numerous times to give students a quiet, orderly place to take exams. We often get notification of accommodations at the last minute, and Sarah navigates these accommodations with a very logical, and calm demeanor that ensures that no added pressure is added to our students. Sarah also manages the computers in her lab; making sure that she and her staff are technically available and up-to-speed on any VU digital systems.

Melissa Doll, Custodian in Summers Center, Physical Plant

Once upon a time, the Summers Building was a lost, forgotten place. Melissa has transformed this tired, uncomely building into something that all the inhabitants are proud to call home. She ensures that all seeking hydration are able to find it in clean, sanitized water fountains. The restrooms are cleaner than a hospital, which is a feat on a college campus. Melissa goes above and beyond for us every day.  When our hallways were being redone, she worked tirelessly to keep the mess under control. Stripping wallpaper is a dirty job, and Melissa would get on her hands and knees to scrape the old paste off the floor. When the baseboards were removed, she cleaned under where the new ones would go. In addition, her everyday work is exemplary. She is conscientious to all those who enter our building.  She’s ready with a smile or a joke, and she takes pride in her work. I don’t know anyone who does as good a job at keeping a building clean as Melissa. Her attention to detail is what makes our building shine, which makes it a much better learning environment for our students.

Debbie Hannah, Technical Services Assistant, Library Resource Services

As many know, the Shake Library had the great task of moving the entire library to Beckes over winter break. The dynamics of moving a library is not only about packing materials and physically transporting them, but rather about all the decisions and transactions completed that get us ready for the move. While it was a library wide team effort to get us ready for the move, Debbie Hannah stood out as a definitive leader to ensure things went smoothly. Debbie brought forth her 20 years of library experience and knowledge to help with the selection of Lewis Library materials for long term loan to the Knox County Public Library as well as other recipients of materials. She worked side-by-side with partners to ensure books and artifacts were safely transitioned to their new long-term home. She made sure that work orders were in place to move materials to safe locations in order to prepare for the building renovation. Debbie spent her time not only removing materials from the catalog, along with many of the staff, but also coordinated the “free books” initiative that was open to the community for those who wished to peruse and take them for personal use. Additionally, when this all started she helped to fill in some hours every week for two months with Jen Holscher at Institutional Research when they were down in staff.

Jessica Hess, Associate Professor and Chair, Surveying Technology

Jessica Hess has performed exemplary work during her first three years of being employed here at VU. She not only does an outstanding job in teaching Surveying and related courses, but she seems to have a great rapport with her students. During this past year, in addition to her normal teaching and related duties, she has also managed to perform numerous other accomplishments and activities. Jessica’s efforts above and beyond her required duties have had a tremendously positive impact on not only her Surveying students and program, but on the university as a whole. She has reached out in various ways to introduce Surveying Technology at the secondary level. She is a “doer” and a problem-solver and anyone who has had the opportunity to work with her knows that she strives to make Vincennes University a better place.  She kept busy with “extra” activities during the 2018-2019 academic year also. Jessica collaborated with Jasper and ATC locations to offer surveying courses, as well as, developed alternate modes of delivery of courses for non-traditional students. She promoted surveying programs through various recruiting events, the development of curriculum for summer camps, and by teaching grade school students surveying skills used in frontier times. Her professional engagements include hosting Southwest Indiana Surveyors meetings, serving on multiple VU committees, maintaining her Land Surveyor’s license, and working with surveying equipment companies to secure thousands of dollars of loaned equipment.

Jamie Markle, Technical Services Assistant, Library Resource Services

The Shake Library had the great task of moving the entire library to Beckes over winter break. Jamie took the lead in multiple areas during this move. When we contracted with Better World Books to take any books not taken in our public giveaways, Jamie spearheaded and coordinated the efforts in this area. Materials had to be ordered, pickups needed scheduled, materials boxed and labeled appropriately, and the coordination of materials ready to be processed for pick up were all under Jamie’s responsibility. She was one of the few who not only pulled materials, but she also processed them for withdrawal, put them on the shelves for our book giveaway, and kept that room organized so she could more smoothly coordinate the transfer of materials. Another new initiative due to the move, and also outside of her normal job duties, was setting up the onsite storage room. Planning of this room had unique characteristics that needed addressed. Jamie made sure this was done correctly to avoid any long-term issues we might otherwise have encountered.

Curtis Rasico, Blackboard Instructional Technologist, Center for Teaching and Learning

He has demonstrated many great qualities such as commitment, reliability, patience, knowledge, and his willingness to go beyond his normal job duties. He shows his commitment and reliability when he emails students and faculty who have support questions, even after hours or weekends. His patience and willingness to go beyond are demonstrated when he takes the time to help students and faculty with technical issues that are not always Blackboard related.  For example, this semester he spent several hours in the CTL helping a student who was having browser issues not related to Blackboard. It is not his duty to help students with their laptop technical issues, but she was very stressed out to meet a deadline and could not find help. He worked with her and her laptop for hours until he figured out the solution. Blackboard has over 3,000 active courses and 5,350 active users. His normal duties include student and faculty support for Blackboard along with course maintenance and course populations. This year was particularly difficulty as the Center for Teaching and Learning moved to a temporary home in the Beckes Student Union Building, and Blackboard rolled out a new process of automating most of the course copies and populations. Although the automation helps tremendously, there are still many manual tasks he has to perform in order to help get all the courses setup and students populated to them. Curtis was very involved with resolving the unexpected issues that came up while implementing the new process, which was important for ensuring a smooth transition.

VINCENNES UNIVERSITY - Indiana’s First College

VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper, the Aviation Technology Center and American Sign Language program in Indianapolis, Early College Career and Technical Education Centers, and additional sites such as the Gene Haas Training and Education Center in Lebanon, the Logistics Training and Education Center in Plainfield, and the Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics in Fort Branch. A leader in developing Early Colleges statewide, VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.

In addition to offering a wide range of associate degree and certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor’s degree programs in technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.

VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 36 other states, and 21 other countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Founded in 1801, VU is Indiana’s first college and is the only college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana Territory. More information is available at


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