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News Release

Aug. 23, 2021

Abington is 2022 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 2020-21.

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. Casey Abington, an associate professor of economics, will receive the 2022 award. Abington, who joined the Northwest faculty in 2010, teaches courses related to economics, banking and financial management.

The Governor’s Award is sponsored by the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education and presented annually to an outstanding faculty member representing 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 and exemplify the Governor’s Award criteria for effective teaching, effective advising, innovation in course design and delivery, service to the university and community, and a commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.

For Northwest’s Faculty Excellence Awards, 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.

“This year’s recipients of the Faculty Excellence Awards are perfect examples of our faculty’s drive and commitment to Northwest,” Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman said. “These recipients are exemplary in their fields of study, contribute to their departments and schools in meaningful service, and they prioritize student learning every day. Through their contributions and role modeling, these six outstanding faculty members make Northwest a better place to learn. It was a perfect start to the 2021-22 school year to be able to recognize this year’s winners.”

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


Dr. Casey Abington, associate professor of economics, Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth School of Business

Abington continues to develop and evolve her teaching to help students and stay current in the discipline. She adopted a new textbook, adapted an undergrad course for delivery in the online professional program and created an economics course for the Master of Business Administration program. Students comment that her teaching methods are engaging and effective, and she is enthusiastic, helpful and positive in her interactions. Her high marks on course evaluations reflect her commitment to student success and the University’s mission.

One student commented, “I went from not knowing anything about economics to having a pretty good grasp as to how the economy works and how it influenced my everyday life. Dr. Abington brought the core ideas of economics very close to the student in easy to understand bites.”

Dr. Brett Chloupek, associate professor of geography, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Chloupek’s students routinely remark in evaluations that he is passionate, caring and exciting in the classroom. His commitment to excellence was demonstrated last spring when he taught two additional course sections, greatly increasing his student count. Moreover, students report he teaches them what it means to be a professional, not just in the fields of geography.

One student commented, “He presents material to the students in a way they can comprehend and gives us clear, achievable goals to ensure we achieve our best potential, and also pushes us when he knows what we can accomplish.” 


Dr. AJ Bandi, associate professor of computer science, School of Computer Science and Information Systems

Bandi went above and beyond during the last calendar year with regard to research. He authored or co-authored five published articles for international audiences on topics, including microservice-based architectures, edge computing, cognitive informatics in emergency disaster management systems, and data streaming architecture for visualizing cryptocurrency temporal data.

Dr. Kurt Haberyan, professor of biology, Department of Natural Sciences

Haberyan achieved the once-in-a-lifetime experience of discovering and naming a new species of microscopic algae found during his research of the Costa Rican lake biology. The discovery caps 30 years of work and is the crowning achievement of his career.

Through their research, Haberyan and his colleagues sampled about 100 lakes, removing organic material and identifying 154 species already known to science. Documenting the new species, Aulacoseira umanai, involved detailed examination of existing species to justify its designation as one that is new to science.


Dr. Karen Britt, assistant professor of art history, Department of Fine and Performing Arts

Britt took on multiple leadership responsibilities within the art discipline and led major interdisciplinary projects. “Brazilian Myths” brought together music and art faculty and students for an innovative collaboration centered on the percussion ensemble’s performance of a composition by the same title. She also organized lectures and workshops for Northwest students, featuring art conservator Katharine Untch. Additionally, she volunteered to write a federal grant proposal to assist leaders in Mound City to raise funds for a large scale mural conservation project.

Within the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, she serves as a curriculum and assessment coordinator, library liaison, chair of a committee to restructure Senior Seminar, and mentored a new graphic design faculty member. She also serves on the Campus Museums Advisory Committee, the University Research Committee and was selected to serve on the statewide committee to develop universal outcomes for art appreciation.


Dr. Matt Symonds, professor of health science, School of Health Science and Wellness

Symonds is an advocate for continuous improvement and excellence, and he has developed a reputation for creating exceptional learning experiences for students and work environments for employees. Major elements of his service include membership on Northwest’s team for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Center for Student Success, co-leading a team implementing a new student learning software system, membership on a committee for faculty handbook chapter two revisions and an at-large faculty senator. He is a long-standing contributor to strategic planning efforts at Northwest and supervises graduate research papers associated with programs in health sciences.

Additionally, Symonds completed a second term as chair of the MOSHAPE Board of Directors’ Future Directions Committee. MOSHAPE is a state-wide professional organization for health and physical educators at all levels, and the Board provides oversight for all of MOSHAPE activities.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215