2021 Academic Affairs Award Recipients

January 1, 2022 - Office of Academic Affairs

The continued implementation of the Shared Discovery Curriculum, and the incredible challenges of the past year, have highlighted the incredible team we have in Academic Affairs. The Academic Affairs Awards Committee had the privilege and challenge of reviewing the inspiring nomination letters with each application and we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Academic Affairs awards.

Early Success Award

The Early Success Award recognizes individuals new to Academic Affairs (less than 3 years) who have demonstrated passion for the educational mission, commitment to our work and skills/abilities that are important to meeting the needs of our educational program. Julie Coe joined the Midland team in May 2020 as the Director of Student Programs. The committee was impressed by Julie’s dedication to assuring high quality learning experiences for students, as well as recognition of her dedication to the community campus mission supporting diversity in the medical students, the educational program and the communities they serve.

Julie Coe
Study Programs Administrator in Midland

Julie is passionate about student success. She is committed to being responsive and available to students and supportive in their career goals. She is excited about the diversity of our students, which resonates with her previous experience working with undergraduate international students.

Julie is passionate about our rural mission, and brings excitement to our recruitment process and further development of the R-CHP program on our campus.

Julie has become a Wellness Champion for our health system, and has incorporated wellness activities into staff meetings and the ASK course. She understands that wellness and resilience are as key to student success as academic excellence and service.

Julie demonstrates passion for the college's educational mission through working hard to find creative solutions to student concerns and problems. She is very committed to student, staff and/or faculty success.

Julie gives staff and faculty on our campus a safe place to talk about issues and work together on plans to improve. She initiated weekly one-on-one meetings with staff when she started her position, and she has scheduled shadowing experiences for them so they can better understand her role.

Early Success Award

The Early Success Award recognizes individuals new to Academic Affairs (less than 3 years) who have demonstrated passion for the educational mission, commitment to our work and skills/abilities that are important to meeting the needs of our educational program. Dr. Williams joined CHM in January 2020 as a basic scientist educator in the Grand Rapids campus. She has taken on teaching roles in lab sessions, Academy small groups and intersessions. The committee noted Dr. Williams’ passion for teaching medical students, her strength as a team member, and support of the principles of the Shared Discovery Curriculum.

Erika Williams, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology

Erika has been terrific to work with. She is smart, attentive and great with the students. She has great passion for physiology and the Shared Discovery Curriculum. She is abale to provide tremendous insights into the necessary science learning objectives and how best teach different topics. 

Dr. Williams has clearly demonstrated an excellent ability to work with our students, she has eagerly taken on teaching tasks, the quality of her work is excellent, and she has been an excellent team player with other faculty at the CHM. 

Dr. Williams was excellent in working one-on-one with the students--answering their questions and helping them work through the exercises. She clearly has a natural ability to communicate with the students. 

From the beginning I was impressed by her preparedness, her disposition to answer questions and her willingness to pitch in wherever she could. I could immediately tell she would become an essential part of our team. 

Erika is an outstanding educator, she presents well, she works well with technology, she models professionalism to the students and is sensitive to their learning needs... Erika has been able to successfully collaborate with other faculty as a member of the academy, with the lead fellows in small group teaching, with IBL faculty and with LGA faculty as well. Erika has been able to adapt quickly to a very non-traditional curriculum.

Staff Excellence Award

The Staff Excellence Award recognizes Academic Affairs staff who demonstrate continued excellence in overall job performance, outstanding interpersonal skills and working relationships, contributions to unit/campus that lead to efficiency, effectiveness or other improvements, and contributions to the many projects, committees and outreach efforts within Academic Affairs. The committee wanted to recognize Deb’s long-term commitment as a Spartan, her willingness to help, excellent communication skills and dedication to student success.

Deb Cleland
Clerkship Coordinator

Deb has been with MSU for more than a decade and has committed herself to making the Family Medicine Clerkship in Grand Rapids an outstanding experience. Her attention to detail and commitment to the medical student experience is admirable.

This past year has not been easy for anyone and certainly not for people working in medical schools. Deb was flexible and innovative in keeping students on track to graduate, finding them clinical placements, and moving schedules around as needed.

Deb stepped in and seamlessly took over the pediatric clerkship also. The clerkship director was originally nervous about someone having to jump in so quickly, but once again Deb not only performed impeccably, she also made great improvements to the clerkship experience by streamlining some processes.

The thing that really sets Deb apart is the way so many students continue to communicate with her regularly after graduation. She is always getting emails from alum telling her how they are doing. Her kind and genuinely caring attitude towards the students leaves meaningful impacts on them.

Deb has helped many students with career choice decisions, navigate personal or family crises, and academic struggles. She has helped connect these students when needed to the resources of Academic Affairs, and promotes the mission and vision of the college.

Deb Cleland is the best support staff member I have worked with at the college and I feel that it is thanks to her that the FM rotation was such a good experience for me. I am so grateful for you, Deb!

Above and Beyond Award

The Above and Beyond Award recognizes individuals in Academic Affairs who step up and do what is necessary and consistently work hard in support of the educational mission. Of special note was Tracy’s professionalism, breadth of skills that she brings to her work in Academic Affairs and the frequent description of Tracy as “tireless.”

Tracy Olson
Late Clinical Experience

This year, Tracy went above and beyond by stepping up to take on multiple new responsibilities. She is able to manage these new responsibilities due to exceptional project and time management skills, multi-faceted organizational skills, and her ability to work effectively as a part of a team. Tracy has accepted this large load of new responsibilities with a positive attitude, showing initiative and confidence.

Tracy has an exceptional, energetic work ethic. She demonstrates steadfast reliability, conscientiousness, and close attention to detail. She continually looks ahead to anticipate needs or problems. Tracy strives for perfection, always proofreading schedules, documents and communications carefully. She routinely double checks her work.

One of Tracy’s most important qualities is that she is always thinking about the needs of our students and faculty. She is always looking to improve how she can better be of assistance to them.

She is always the first member of our unit to volunteer to help with a project whenever she senses assistance is needed.

Tracy has not said “no” to anything that we have asked of her. A recent retirement and budget reductions left us a staff person short, and she willingly piled this work on top of her other responsibilities helping with electives and enrollment.

Tracy Olson is a reliable and energetic Spartan who consistently goes beyond what is expected of her on behalf of the College of Human Medicine and its students. She is a leader with strong communication and interpersonal skills that is highly regarded by others.

Innovation Award – Team

The Innovation Award recognizes individuals and groups who consider innovative solutions to addressing educational or administrative needs in support of Academic Affairs. In reviewing the nominations for this award, the committee was impressed the creativity of Dr. Weirauch and her team, as well as the quality of the curriculum that was quickly developed in the context of COVID-19 and our rapidly changing educational needs.

Katrina Weirauch and Team
Breastfeeding and Lactation Elective

Katrina Weirauch, DO, Jennifer Edwards-Johnson, DO, Shimia Isaac, DO, Kathy Keller, DO, Julie Phillips, MD, Rosemary Roper, DO

The course has been very popular, engaging students interested in a range of specialties, and both male and female students. Students indicate that the course has given them the skills and knowledge they need to care for breastfeeding patients, and encouraged them to incorporate breastfeeding and lactation support into their future practices. Students especially appreciate that the course fills a gap in their existing education, and they now will enter residency with special expertise. One student said, “I love the topic and being surrounded by others who value breastfeeding so much. It inspired me to become more of an advocate, hopefully starting with the certified lactation counselor certificate.”

They have rapidly established MSU College of Human Medicine as a leader in flexible, high-quality breastfeeding and lactation education for medical professionals.

With each iteration of the course, they make refinements to better assess student learning, enhance the student experience, and improve course quality. The entire course is built on a foundation of evidence-based medicine. The course directors have taken care to include diverse faculty as instructors; to ensure diversity across standardized patient cases; and to address diversity issues within breastfeeding medicine, such as the discussion of LGBTQ issues in lactation.

This course met a need not only for our medical students but also it fills a gap in training for residents and practicing physicians. It also met a need during the covid pandemic to allow people to learn online. This team put together a fantastic experience.

Dr. Weirauch has been a great leader, and really put her clinical expertise to develop these educational materials so learners can really absorb and retain this important subject. The material that was created involves addresses diversity in areas including LGGBTQ couples and has a diverse group of faculty and leadership who strongly believe in health equity.

Educational Mission Booster Award

The CHM Educational Booster Award recognizes individuals outside of Academic Affairs who actively support, advance and sustain the college's educational mission, and motivate others to contribute to CHM and its mission. Kris Stroud has used her role to support the work of units within Academic Affairs as well as an opportunity to learn more about and participate in our educational mission.

Kristina Stroud
Dean's Office - Business and Finance

Kris has tremendous capacity for managing large and complex projects. Her tireless engagement across Academic Affairs supports the development of systems and processes that enable faculty and staff to achieve even greater efficiencies and effectiveness, allowing faculty and staff to take on additional efforts to improve the educational program.

Her thoughtful engagement with the entire Academic Affairs team, thinking through priorities, identifying and addressing critical issues, ensuring all voices are heard, and advocating for us across the university have positioned the college for greater access to those who lead these important technological changes.

Kris is a voice for students, faculty and staff. She routinely brings discussions back to what do we need for the faculty and staff to complete their work processes so that we can continue to meet the needs of our students. Kris has strong relationships with IT leadership across the university and fosters trust between the college and university. She has been an amazing advocate for the college and our educational programs.

She undertook a tremendous amount of work to embed herself in the academic team and demonstrates through her actions the value such effort has yielded. Kris has the opportunity to engage in conversations with leadership across the college and her knowledge of the academic mission provides important context and understanding of the educational mission.