Dinner Honors Outstanding Faculty, Staff AccomplishmentsApril 30, 2014

Weeks before honoring the outstanding members of the student body at commencement, faculty and staff at Rockhurst University were honored during the annual faculty awards dinner Friday, April 25, for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the University community.

Jason Arthur, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, received the Daniel Brenner Scholarly Achievement Award for his 2013 book Violet America: Regional Cosmopolitanism in U.S. Fiction Since the Great Depression. Charles Kovich, Ph.D., professor of English, introduced Arthur by expressing the importance of Violet America’s new approach to discussing literature.

Arthur thanked people who helped him along the way, including the Rev. Louis Oldani, S.J., professor emeritus of English at Rockhurst. Arthur said he has never had the chance to say thank you for what Fr. Oldani did for him, but he said he does often think of and appreciate those contributions.

“What I did is make myself into a scholar because of him, with his books,” he said. “I built a home in academia.”

A member of the University’s staff, Lane Ramey, associate vice president for enrollment, was honored with the Harry B. Kies Award for Distinguished Service to the Rockhurst community. Charles Moran, Ph.D., professor of political science, said Ramey has served in a variety of positions over the years, helping to bolster admissions shortly after being named to his current position in 2010.

“Here, 35 years ago, I wrote the letter of recommendation for him to start out in admissions,” he said. “And tonight I have the honor to sing his praises.”

Ramey, in accepting the award that honors outstanding service of employees who have been with the University for at least 15 years, said he considered the efforts to attract the top students a collaborative one.

“I have to let you know that even though this award is given to me, it’s given to me because of all of you,” he said. “I could not do what I do without you.”

Jennifer Rinella, director of the nonprofit leadership studies program, and Diane Marty, CFRE, and instructor in that program, were awarded the first ever Rockhurst University Excellence in Outcomes Assessment Award for their work in improving student outcomes through assessment in the nonprofit leadership program.

“For us, assessment is magis,” Rinella said. “It’s how are we doing, what can we do better, what works are we doing for the greater glory of God?”

The University also recognized one retiring member of the community. Introducing James E. Millard, Ph.D., the retiring interim dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Jeff Breese, Ph.D., interim vice president of academic affairs, described someone who has left his mark on the Rockhurst campus in a plethora of ways. A graduate of Rockhurst, Millard has also worked at the University in both administrative capacities in the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, admission and alumni relations offices, as well as in academic roles, as an instructor and developer of the leadership studies program.

“In baseball parlance, Dr. Millard is indeed a ‘utility player,’” Breese said.

Millard thanked those in the room, especially his wife and fellow longtime Rockhurst employee, Peg, and others in the University community for being a part of his years at Rockhurst.

“And I’m also blessed to have worked and relied upon so many of you,” he said. “I keep those memories close to me and will revisit them often in the months and years to come.”

A number of faculty were recognized for longevity, with two faculty members specifically recognized for 25 years of service —James Dronberger, DPT, and William Sturgill, Ph.D., professor of psychology.

One longtime faculty member, Tony Tocco, Ph.D., professor of accounting, was celebrated for 45 years of service to the University.

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