A-Z Index

News Release

Aug. 12, 2022

8 honored for excellence in academic affairs at Northwest

Northwest Missouri State University on Friday honored eight of its employees who exhibit a positive influence on its academic community through their dedication, collegiality and unassuming excellence.

The inaugural Academic Impact Awards were announced during a meeting of staff and faculty who are involved within academic affairs at the University.

Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman announced the recipients, saying the new award recognizes faculty and staff members whose daily contributions are key to Northwest’s success.

“They're the people I look at every day, and they aspire to be better,” Hooyman said. “They’re those people that help you see that there is a way to do things in light of all the negativity or in light of all the scariness. They’re those individuals that just keep plugging away and help us get better.”

Recipients of the awards and a summary of their nominations are provided below.

Jiwon Choi

Jiwon Choi, staff accompanist, Department of Fine and Performing Arts

Choi joined the Northwest faculty in 2016 and collaborates with the University’s choirs, vocal and instrumental studios, student pianists, music faculty and guest artists. Faculty appreciate her, and students consistently express gratitude for the exceptional skill and warm collaboration she brings to her work with them. She takes on accompaniment tasks with eagerness and addresses them as an opportunity to expand her experience as well as that of students and faculty. She consistently receives applause and ovation for her concert work with gratitude and humility. She is a kind, confident and engaging presence in support of students.

Dr. Nathan Eloe

Dr. Nathan Eloe, associate professor of computer science and information systems, School of Computer Science and Information Systems

Eloe has solidly supported the undergraduate and graduate programs in his department. In a field of constantly changing knowledge content, he has stayed current and worked with new faculty in training to teach courses such as data structures, ensuring students have a consistent baseline knowledge to enter higher-level courses. He is part of a team working to grow Northwest’s master’s degree program in data analytics and has consistently served on search committees for multiple concurrent positions He also volunteered to be trained in the Network File System’s high-performance computing facilities workshop.

Rebecca Lobina

Rebecca Lobina, director of the Small Business Development Center and continuing professional education, Northwest-Kansas City

Lobina, has had a tremendous impact on area businesses and workforce development in northwest Missouri. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she was nationally recognized for her work with area small businesses and the PPP loan program, assisting with the award of more than $13 million in PPP loans. Additionally, she has been integral in growing Northwest’s non-credit presence in the region and leveraging local, state, and national resources to drive alternative revenue production.

Joni McDonough

Joni McDonough, international admissions specialist, Office of Admissions

McDonough joined Northwest in 2018 and plays a role in reviewing every international application the University receives, which have increased more than 200 percent during that time. She possesses strong organizational skills and has harnessed additional support to make order out of chaos. Additionally, she is a strong communicator and continues to collaborate with other areas to make process improvements that benefit the international admissions.

Connie Murphy

Connie Murphy, international involvement specialist, International Involvement Center

Murphy joined Northwest in 2005 and has served both the Study Abroad and International Affairs units. In 2018, her role expanded to include sharing study abroad responsibilities with the director or the International Involvement Center due to the loss of a coordinator position. She works with student groups and faculty in preparation of faculty-led trips in addition to meeting with individual students participating in study abroad programs. She has also served on Northwest’s Staff Council.

Dr. John Pope

Dr. John Pope, associate professor of geology, Department of Natural Resources

Pope has been a solid faculty member since joining Northwest in 2002. He goes beyond expectations in service by, among other activities, spending countless hours of work with specimens in the science museum in the Garrett-Strong Science Building. His teaching evaluations consistently exceed expectations, and student comments are highly favorable. His commitment to field experiences in geology with full-immersion hands-on learning provides exceptional opportunities for students to garner knowledge and experience, along with that of his colleagues in geology, and apply it to practice. He is an archetypally unassuming person who has dedicated his career to Northwest.

Crystal Ward

Crystal Ward, manager of web services, Office of Marketing and Communication

Ward is primarily responsible for Northwest’s website and its 8 million views per year. She develops content; implements systems, programs and codes; and makes all of it work together to create a seamless experience for web users. She has the skillset of an information technology employee with a marketing lens. She is talented and completes work well beyond her job description, perhaps best exemplified by teaching herself responsive web design and, in turn, saving the University approximately $500,000.

Amee Wilmes

Amee Wilmes, assistant director of scholarships and financial assistance, Office of Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Wilmes is a true advocate for helping students, especially students of color. She dedicated herself to helping students to ensure finances are not a barrier for a student completing a college degree. She takes time to visit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and establish rapport with students as well. The personal attention she gives to all students, especially racially diverse students, is appreciated and acknowledged.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215