Employee Spotlight Faculty News

Dunwoody announces 2020 faculty awards

As 2020 comes to a close, Dunwoody is proud to present several service awards in recognition of the many faculty and staff members who have made a difference to the College, its students, and the broader community. 

Distinguished Teacher 

This year’s Distinguished Teacher award was presented to Lonny Lunn, Assistant Professor, Automotive Service Technology.  

The Distinguished Teacher Award is given to faculty members who have committed a significant portion of their career to the art of teaching and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to education and lifelong learning. 

“Lonny continually sets the benchmark in regards to working to improve the students learning experience,” said Automotive Dean Steve Reinarts. “He has been a member of several learning teams through his relations within Honda PACT and Toyota TTEN networks. Not only is Lonny repeatedly sought by other institutions for his input and knowledge, he continually looks at the pedagogical processes of other colleges within his association and works to implements these best practices in his classroom. Lonny then shares his successes with the other Instructors within the department to ensure the improvement of the each of automotive programs.” 

Lunn is well respected by his peers. In fact, he was recently awarded the ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) Industry Education Alliance Instructor Recognition Award. The award recognizes the best of the best in career and technical education within the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Education Foundation national network of schools and colleges.  

“When a new member joins the Automotive Faculty, Lonny is the first to offer his assistance in not only the delivery of the material, but also the development of the curriculum and his support,” Reinarts said. “Lonny’s commitment to building effective relationships with both secondary education and industry is exemplified by the number of Highs School Advisory Committees to which he is an active member.” 

Lunn consistently demonstrates his commitment to excellence by continually working to build and maintain effective relationships with Industry. This allows him to foster employment opportunities for our students, and gain insight into industry trends, the needs of the employers, and advancements in technology.  

“Lonny is readily recognized by many in automotive throughout our area, not only as person, but as someone who generally works to improve student success in the automotive field,” Reinarts said.  

Outstanding Academic Innovation 

The Outstanding Academic Innovation Award is awarded to faculty members who demonstrate a commitment to implementing innovative instructional strategies in the classroom. This year, Dunwoody College presented the award to three faculty members.  

Elena BelinskiAssociate Professor, Arts & Sciences, was presented with the Outstanding Academic Innovation award for her superior dedication to math education at Dunwoody. Belinski developed an extraordinary and innovative Boolean Algebra textbook that used a variety of programs in the development of the massive and complex examples of diagrams and equations. Before building her text, Belinski completed an in-depth analysis of the Dunwoody student audience and discovered her approach for effective math instruction.   

According to nominators Ann Iverson and Tom Finnegan, developing this book was a laborious process, but Belinski was incredibly dedicated to the mission because she knew it would improve the students’ understanding of highly complicated math topics.  

“She is the first professor to have developed such an articulate and masterful textbook, which is made available to the students at an incredibly low price as well as to other professors to adapt in their classrooms. This is education at its best,” Iverson and Finnegan noted.   

Brian Nelsen, Assistant Professor, Machine Tool Technology, received the Outstanding Academic Innovation award for his work helping produce face shields at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In mid-March, Robotics & Manufacturing Dean E.J. Daigle received a phone call from Stratasys, an industry partner at a 3D printing company based in Eden Prairie. Stratasys wanted to 3D print head frames and attach plastic shields to produce face shields for the fight on COVID-19.  

“I brought the idea to Brian on a Friday night and the next morning, on a Saturday, Brian and his student worker spent all day testing work-holding, cutters, and fixtures to find a way to cut a profile, holes, and slots into the polycarbonate plastic,” Daigle said. “The result of which was a fixture capable of machining 12 sheets at a time every five minutes. Over the course of the next three days, Brian brought three additional machines online and two additional student workers. With changeover, we were now capable of machining up to 1,000 face shields per day. Manufacturing faculty and student workers spent the next three weeks making more than 15,000 face shields for the fight on COVID-19.” 

The final Outstanding Academic Innovation award was presented to Mark Schwendeman, Senior Instructor, Welding & Metal Fabrication. Schwendeman was selected for his work beyond the welding classroom.   

“Mark has worked with Dunwoody students to design and build two Robotic Snow Plows in the past three years and is currently working with Mechanical Engineering students on the design and build of a supermileage car,” Daigle said. “Mark has led Saturday seminars on blacksmithing and fabrication and is currently working with Dunwoody’s Welding Club on activities to further engage all Dunwoody students.” 

Each spring, for the past five years, Schwendeman has brought a team of welders up to Brainerd for the High School Supermileage Competition. They set up and run a welding repair shop to help ensure all cars pass safety inspections and are allowed to compete. Schwendeman also leads the effort on Dunwoody’s scrap metal program by organizing pick-ups of scrap metal across three academic departments. This effort has netted the College more than $30,000 in just the last five years.  

“Mark’s dedication to Dunwoody goes far beyond the classroom and is in keeping with the best that Dunwoody has to offer,” Daigle said.  

Instructor of the Year 

Nominations for the Instructor of the Year Award come from current Dunwoody students. The award is given out annually to instructors who are committed to the students’ academic success, serve as a professional role model to students and colleagues, and aim for academic excellence in curriculum and instruction 

This year’s awards Instructor of the Year Awards were presented to:  

  • Andrew Blaisdell, Assistant Professor, Architecture 

“Andrew goes out of his way to provide us with the necessary tools we need to succeed. He challenges us to go beyond what we think we are capable of. He acts as an instructor and a mentor, checking in with us even outside of scheduled class time and/or office hours. He’s constantly working to better the program as a whole by creating new curriculum and building new spaces for students to use within the studio. He was an integral part of starting a mentorship program within the architecture department this past year, which pairs fifth year students with one to two third year students in the BARCH program, while also pairing each fifth year student with a professional in the industry as well.” 

  • Korrin Howard, Program Manager/Associate Professor, Interior Design 

“Korrin not only continues to develop our program, coursework and industry involvement to better us as students and our education, for our program excellence, and for Dunwoody’s representation in the industry. Korrin is also an extraordinary professor, with an unlimited amount of knowledge, skill, and passion – as students we feel this every day, providing support and encouragement to each individual student to better themselves, both personally and professionally. Outside of this, Korrin is also very passionate and active in the broader design community and professional development – for students and the interior design community.”  

  • Rick Larrabee, Associate Professor, Construction Project Management 

“Rick Larrabee is the most deserving instructor of this award. He has been very committed to all of the student’s success, and is a big role model to my classmates and me. This is my second semester with him, and I have never enjoyed learning so much. Everything I have been taught has been very beneficial to my degree. It is easy to tell that he spends ample time outside of the classroom to prepare for class. Because of his preparation, we as students are able to actually understand and get what he is explaining. I like that he gives us time in class to work on assignments, because we can ask as many questions as we want, and he will patiently answer all of them. In addition to all of this, he is admirable in the way he conducts himself. He also has a good sense of humor, so class is never boring.”  

  • Joe Roemer, Assistant Professor, Automotive Service Technology 

“Joe Roemer is a helpful teacher who is very wise and has a great sense for teaching. You can feel his passion in the way he teaches and Mr. Roemer also goes out of his way to help students out individually. He does this by informing students about extracurricular opportunities, scholarships, and clubs. He stays after class to help students with labs and questions. Mr. Roemer has helped me personally by providing me recommendations for my scholarships.” 

  • Ross Skattum, Senior Instructor, Welding & Metal Fabrication 

“Ross has continually gone above and beyond for not only myself, but for every student he teaches. I have not once doubted that Ross takes his job very seriously and takes pride in his position as a role model for each and every one of us. He is professional, reliable, relatable, compassionate, and so incredibly nice and understanding. From the beginning of the year he has made it a consistent point to all of us that he is here for us students in any way that he can be and he is very willing to help and listen at all times. Ross is a student himself and incredibly busy, but prioritizes his students and our success and futures without a doubt. I’ve never heard him get upset, or complain once about anything. He is a leader, a true role model, and one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. Both of my welding instructors (Ross and Mark Schwendeman) have changed my idea of college and what it means to take pride in your work and yourself and your personal progress. Ross is truly a college instructor that I’m sure none of his students will ever forget.”