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Nov. 4, 2020

Spears is 2021 Governor’s Award winner; 6 receive Faculty Excellence Awards


Northwest Missouri State University has honored six individuals as recipients of its annual Faculty Excellence Awards in recognition of their teaching, scholarship and service during 2019-20.

Continuing the institution’s long-standing tradition of naming one of the honorees as Northwest’s Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education recipient, the University announced Dr. Kathleen Spears, an associate professor of biology, will receive the 2021 award. Spears, who joined the Northwest faculty in 2012, teaches courses related to biology, physiology, immunology and medical terminology.

The Governor’s Award is sponsored by the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education and presented annually to an outstanding faculty member of each of Missouri’s four-year public institutions. Northwest’s recipient is chosen from faculty members who receive the University’s Faculty Excellence Award for teaching.

For the Faculty Excellence Award, one recipient is selected in each of the three categories of teaching, scholarship and service from nominees representing Northwest’s six professional schools, and one recipient is selected in each category from nominees representing the five academic departments comprising the College of Arts and Sciences, for a total of six award winners.

All full-time faculty holding a Board of Regents-approved appointment at the University are eligible for Faculty Excellence Awards.

“We give these awards to individuals who have gone above and beyond and are recognized by their peers for contributions to this University in a multitude of ways,” Northwest Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman said. “There are so many deserving people in these categories that this is a very, very difficult decision every year, and so it’s always a highlight of my year to be able to recognize the winners of these categories.”

This year’s Faculty Excellence Award recipients and a summary of their nominations are provided below.

Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching

Dr. Kathleen Spears

Dr. Kathleen Spears

Dr. Kathleen Spears, associate professor of biology in the Department of Natural Sciences

Spears plays a key role in preparing students for future health care careers as doctors, nurses, dieticians, radiology technicians and clinical lab technicians. While her courses in physiology and medical terminology are foundational, her nominator wrote that Spears’ “classes are engaging and challenging, and her labs are the epitome of profession-based education. Katie in her scrubs, leading physiology labs on various body systems has Garrett-Strong looking like medical school.”

Additionally, Spears receives high evaluations from students, whose comments include:

  • “Dr. Spears is a fantastic teacher, and she approaches each class with high levels of enthusiasm. She relates the information to life situations better than any professor I have ever had. It has been a great experience and I wish I could have had her more than once.”
  • “I really enjoyed this class, and even though it is a tough course, Dr. Spears makes it fun, interactive, and makes learning easy.”
  • “Very interesting course. Loved all the application to our future careers. One of my favorite instructors at Northwest.”

Spears advances profession-based learning by earning her Emergency Medical Technician-Basic license and her Emergency Medical Services Instructor Certificate. Despite having a full teaching load, she is dedicated to EMS instruction as a team teacher for the emergency medical responder course and a clinical skills instructor for the emergency medical technician-basic course. Additionally, she spends 24 hours a semester participating in continuing EMS education to keep her EMT-B license.

While volunteering at Northwest’s Missouri Hope exercises, as well as at New York Hope and Florida Hope, she has given hundreds of hours of her time coaching, teaching, mentoring and training future health care, emergency management, public health workers and first responders.

Malinda Tobin

Malinda Tobin

Malinda Tobin, senior instructor of accounting in the Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth School of Business

Tobin excels as a senior instructor of accounting by implementing innovative teaching methods in her courses.

During the summer of 2019, she adopted an electronic textbook with digital platform resources for two upper level accounting courses and implemented both courses during the fall 2019 semester. While the implementation required significant training, time and effort during the summer, her course evaluations received scores above the accounting discipline averages.

Her teaching responsibilities include the Master of Business Administration (MBA) business foundation course, which provides non-business undergraduate students with essential tools necessary to succeed in the required courses offered in MBA programs. 

Tobin also completed 30 hours of continuing professional education to maintain her Certified Management Accountant (CMA) status. She is an active participant in the St. Joseph Pony Express Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants, which provides professional development opportunities for her and Northwest accounting students. Through her involvement, students annually receive free student memberships, networking opportunities and 10 scholarships to assist students with preparing for the CMA exam.

Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship

Dr. Renée Oyotode-Adebile

Dr. Renée Oyotode-Adebile

Dr. Renée Oyotode-Adebile, assistant professor of finance in the Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth School of Business

Oyotode-Adebile has maintained an active research agenda since joining the Northwest faculty in 2018. Four of her research articles were published in 2019 in journals with acceptances rates of 15 to 10 percent. Additionally, she delivered presentations at the meetings of three regional professional finance associations.

Further, she reviewed manuscripts for the Eastern Finance Association and International Research in Economics and Finance. She is a member of the Southern Finance Association, Southwestern Finance Association, Eastern Finance Association, American Finance Association and the Financial Management Association.

Dr. Elyssa Ford

Dr. Elyssa Ford

Dr. Elyssa Ford, associate professor of history in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Ford had an outstanding and productive year in scholarship during 2019. She completed a remarkable 13 publications, including the submission of a manuscript for publication. She also completed a book chapter, three book reviews and seven encyclopedia entries, in addition to serving as the editor of 10 student biographies.

She presented at one regional conference, was a panel organizer and discussant for two national conferences and a regional conference. She took students with her to one of the national conferences where they participated in a panel she organized.

Faculty Excellence Award for Service and Student Support

Matthew Schieber

Matthew Schieber

Matthew Schieber, senior instructor of computer science and information systems in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems

Schieber joined the Northwest faculty in 2011 and plays a key role in several initiatives within the School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

In support of the School’s interest in diversifying its programs, Schieber led an effort to begin offering Northwest’s Master of Information Systems (MIS) degree in a blended format for delivery at Northwest-Kansas City. The program launch required significant scheduling in cooperation with the Booth School of Business, along with major course conversion and development while involving numerous colleagues. He also responded to interest in promoting the MIS program for delivery to Online Professional students.

He has served on the Academic Appeals Committee and previously provided training sessions and workshops to the Learning and Teaching Center. As the University transitioned from eCompanion to Canvas in 2016, he represented the School of Computer Science and Information Systems and served as a faculty trainer for the University under the guidance of the Learning and Teaching Center.

Schieber also coordinated the School’s Academic Learning Community, providing resident students as well as the Evergy programming contest, which provides students with access to real-world, industry projects in a competitive environment.

Additionally, Schieber has maintained his regular responsibilities, leading the instructional team for the computers and information technology course. He coordinates the dual-credit sections of the course and has taught the Online Professional section for nursing students for a few years.

Brian Swink

Brian Swink

Brian Swink, instructor of mathematics and statistics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Swink has taught the spring and fall semester of University Seminar, contributing to Northwest’s strong retention numbers. Because of his strong and consistent quality of his service and commitment, in December 2019, he became the director of University Seminar and has done significant work in that role while continuing to teach a full load of courses.

After being the Northwest Regional Director for the Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics and coordinating both the middle school and high school exams on campus, he became president-elect for the Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics. He also serves on the Council on Teacher Education and has chaired the Missouri Co-requisite Taskforce established by the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

Swink is the Elementary Education Coordinator for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, which requires coordination with the School of Education and the Department of Natural Sciences as well as Northwest-Kansas City.

Additionally, he mentored and sponsored an undergraduate research project in which one of his study-group leaders for the corequisite course, Strategies for Fundamentals of Mathematics, presented their methods and findings at a state conference.

“Brian demonstrates selfless commitment to doing what is right, doing what needs to be done and developing a positive growth mindset in himself, his colleagues, and his students,” his nominator wrote. “He does so with hard work, sincerity and humor. Brian has done all of this while still being one of our most sought-after teachers in the department and being very active in his community.”


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704