Park University Recognizes Academic Achievements at Honors Convocation

Parkville, Mo.—April 25, 2013 — Park University students, faculty and staff were recognized for their exceptional scholarly efforts from the 2012-13 school year at the University’s annual Honors Convocation on April 24. The event was held in the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel on the University’s Parkville Campus. In addition to a number of departmental academic honors, the University acknowledged outstanding students and faculty with a variety of special awards.

The most prestigious honor bestowed on any student at Park University — the Outstanding Parkite Award — went to seniors Nadejda Bucsan and Cody Croan. The Outstanding Parkite Award is given to one senior female and one senior male student on the University’s Parkville Campus who best exemplify the ideals of the University in their character, conduct, scholarship and student activity participation. The awards are endowed by Dr. Elliot F. Parker in memory of his parents, Albert George and Jessie Bewley Parker.

Bucsan, a senior business administration/management major from Chisinau, Moldova, has excelled in the classroom with a 3.98 cumulative grade point average, and she has been active in student life on the Parkville Campus. A University Presidential Scholar and a member of Park’s Honors Program, she is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society. She was elected to three terms as the business manager for the Park Student Government Association and served one term as a senator. Bucsan also served as vice president of the University’s Model United Nations club and Park’s People to People International chapter. In addition, she has been a freshman mentor/student orientation leader, a student adviser for Park’s Summer Business Academy and a student representative on a number of University committees.

Croan, a senior English writing major from Kansas City, Mo. (attended Park Hill South High School, Riverside, Mo.), has also excelled in the classroom with a 4.06 cumulative grade point average, as well as in a variety of student activities. A University Presidential Scholar and a member of Park’s Honors Program, Croan was the recipient of a Dr. Doris Howell Leadership Award and the Outstanding Class Member Award in 2012. Croan served two years as a First-Year Experience mentor and was editor of Park’s creative writing journal, The Scribe. He also served one year as public relations coordinator for the PSGA and was president of the Philosophy Club. In addition, Croan won the Nicholas Manchion Endowed English Scholarship in 2010.

The University also recognized its outstanding faculty with the presentation of the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award to Brian Shawver, associate professor of English, and the Distinguished Humanities Faculty Award to Dennis Okerstrom, Ph.D., professor of English.

Manuchair Ebadi, Ph.D., a 1960 Park graduate, established the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award in honor of Delta W. Gier, Ph.D., former chair of the Department of Chemistry who served Park from 1948 to 1990. The award pays tribute to a faculty member who shows evidence of commitment to high standards of excellence in the area of scholarship: teaching, discovery, integration and/or service. The recipient also shows effective and innovative connections between teaching and research, especially by undergraduate student involvement and participation.

Shawver, a resident of Kansas City, Mo., has an impressive record of scholarship, and he sustains a synergistic relationship between writing, research and teaching, according to his nominators. One nomination letter noted that Shawver is an “exceptional scholar who has enhanced the Park student experience and the reputation of the University.” Shawver’s recently published book, The Language of Fiction: A Writer’s Stylebook, has been adopted by major writing programs across the country.

Ebadi also established the Distinguished Humanities Faculty Award, to celebrate the work, life and thoughts of Woodbridge O. Johnson, Ph.D., professor emeritus and chair of religion and Biblical literature at Park from 1946 to 1966. The award is presented to a University faculty member who exhibits extraordinary accomplishments in research or creative scholarship through teaching, discovery, scholarly or creative work, and service.

According to one nominee, Okerstrom, a resident of Independence, Mo., is a pillar of liberal arts and humanities at Park. “He has provided significant academic and historical work related to events and people from World War II that has been recognized in the media,” the nominee said. Okerstrom has been recognized previously by the University as a two-time recipient of the J.L. Zwingle Award, an award that pays tribute to outstanding faculty members as voted by students, as well as the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award.

Additional Presidential Awards and leadership awards presented by Park University President Michael Droge, Ph.D.:

Dusing-Proudfoot Award — This award is given to honor an outstanding contribution by a Park University faculty or staff member. It is named in honor of two former Park University professors, Albert Dusing and Merrill Proudfoot, who worked at Park for more than 20 years each and are respected for their academic and teaching betterment of students. •Scott Hageman, associate professor of geology/geoscience and assistant dean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences, Kansas City, Mo.

J.L. Zwingle Award — This award pays tribute to outstanding faculty members as voted by the student body. •Stephen Bell, Ph.D., J.D., associate professor and program coordinator of economics, Napoleon, Mo.

Louisa Davidson Hinde/Carolyn Hinde Zarkaryan Memorial Award — This award is given to two students and one faculty/staff/alumni who best represent the spirit of Park University by promoting in others that quality of excellence that has always been associated with a Park education. •Tarrah Bossert, senior organizational communications major, Weatherby Lake, Mo. (attended Park Hill High School, Kansas City, Mo.) •Dawn Hyatt, program assistant in the Office of Global Education and Study Abroad, Kansas City, Mo. •Jon LaHue III, senior communication arts/broadcasting major, Kansas City, Kan.

Teaching Excellence Awards — A trio of awards are given to recognize the full-time, face-to-face adjunct and online adjunct faculty members who exemplify excellence in teaching, as nominated by peers, students and staff. •President’s Award for Teaching Excellence (for full-time faculty): Donna Bachmann, professor and program coordinator of art, Roeland Park, Kan. •Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence (for face-to-face adjunct faculty): Misty Burnett, Whiteman Air Force Base (Mo.) Campus Center adjunct instructor of economics, Warrensburg, Mo. •Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence (for online adjunct faculty): Joe Butler, adjunct instructor of psychology, Bemidji, Minn.

Excellence in Academic Advising Award — This award is given to recognize faculty/staff who have achieved excellence in providing Park University students academic advising and mentoring. The award is intended to recognize outstanding contributions in helping students define and achieve their academic goals. •Gregory Claycomb, Ph.D., assistant professor and program coordinator of chemistry, Leavenworth, Kan. •Tonya Frotz, Malmstrom Air Force Base (Mont.) Campus Center assistant director, Great Falls, Mont.

To view a complete list of awards presented during the Honors Convocation, including a list of Presidential Scholars, Outstanding Student Awards and departmental awards, visit

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