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December 17, 2019
In the World

SOCHE Excellence Awards

Wittenberg University Faculty and Staff Members Honored by SOCHE

The Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) recently recognized six Wittenberg employees with Excellence Awards. Three staff members and three faculty members were each honored and will be promoted by SOCHE over the next few months through a series of special communications.

Academic officers at each SOCHE-member institution could select up to three faculty members based on each institution’s criteria, with special consideration of demonstrated excellence in teaching, service, and scholarship throughout the past academic year. Human Resource officers at each institution could also select up to three staff members based on each institution’s criteria, with special consideration of demonstrated excellence in student success, service, and assessment throughout the past academic year. Those selected will then be featured throughout the academic year in SOCHE-sponsored social media, e-marketing, press releases, and on the SOCHE Excellence Awards website.

Wittenberg faculty members selected include Mike Daiga, assistant professor of education, who was featured in November 2019, followed by Danny Marous, assistant professor of chemistry, who will be featured in February of 2020, and Elizabeth George, professor of physics and 2014 Ohio Professor of the Year, who will be featured in March 2020.

Before coming to Wittenberg in 2017, Daiga taught secondary mathematics and business coursework for eight years. His primary research interest focuses on mathematics education, specifically looking at teacher’s statistical knowledge in graphical representations. He currently teaches coursework topics that focus on how children learn mathematics, mathematical methods, educational psychology, and statistics.

Marous started at Wittenberg in 2017 as well, after completing his postdoctoral work at the University of Notre Dame. A 2009 Wittenberg graduate and recent recipient of the Wittenberg Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching, he has continued to study bacterial resistance to antibiotics, among his research interests. When speaking of Wittenberg, he often describes how “motivating it [was]” knowing his professors cared about him as a student, but also the subject matter they were teaching. This has influenced him to build similar relationships with his own students starting with simply getting to know their names as early as possible in the semester.

George, who was recently awarded Wittenberg’s Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, is an experimental physicist with research interests in nuclear beta decay and the fundamental force of nature that is responsible for beta decay. She is part of a collaboration that's building a superconducting magnetic spectrometer for beta decay experiments, and is also investigating techniques for using lasers and other optical methods to manipulate radioactive atoms in order to study their properties. Co-author of eight papers in peer-reviewed physics journals on neutron interferometry and on nuclear reactions with spin-polarized nuclei, she is interested in physics education research.

Staff employees honored include Bret Billhardt, senior associate athletic director for athletic internal operations/compliance, who will be featured in February 2020; Beth Hallauer, academic department assistant, who will be featured in April 2020; and Jon Duraj, senior associate dean for student success and retention, who will be featured in May 2020.

Billhardt joined the athletics staff in June of 2018, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge at the university level, as well as the conference level, after serving as assistant executive director of the North Coast Athletic Conference for seven years. He earned his MBA from Ohio University in 2015 and has impacted Wittenberg through the streamlining of processes and the building of intentional collaborations with athletics across campus.

Hallauer wears many hats at Wittenberg as an administrative assistant in the math, computer science, and physics departments. An invaluable partner for the Office of Admission, she also helps coordinate the Honors Program. She is a resource for many families joining the Wittenberg community and has provided more meaningful communications from the Honors Program, creating a greater understanding of what it means to be a Wittenberg student.

Duraj, Wittenberg class of 2009 and a recent recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni award, completed his master’s degree at the University of Dayton and his Ph.D. in higher education administration from Ohio University. Selected to participate in the Council for Independent Colleges Senior Leadership Academy, Duraj is a founding board member and still serves on the board of BLOOM Africa, an international NGO working in the Kingdom of Lesotho building sustainable partnerships to aid orphan and vulnerable children and their communities.

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About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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