A record of civic engagement that includes a stint on Bowling Green City Council has earned Dr. Michael Zickar, psychology department chair, the Faculty Senate Community Involvement Award. He received a plaque and $1,000.
Faculty Senate’s Unit Recognition Award went to the General Studies Writing (GSW) Program, where the $1,000 cash prize will be divided among the 35 nominees.
Zickar was called “a shining example of what it means to be engaged in the Bowling Green community” by his nominator, Dr. Victoria Ekstrand, journalism.
She noted that Zickar became involved in Bowling Green politics in 1999 through the local Democratic Party, and has since worked on numerous campaigns for local and national Democratic candidates. In 2003, he successfully ran for city council, where he “dedicated himself to town-gown relations,” she wrote.
“Most notably,” Ekstrand explained, “he helped to institute a new civil violations code, which gave local law enforcement the flexibility to cite students for civil infractions rather than criminal infractions—a change that benefited students who would often later regret their behavior and who would experience difficulty finding a job because of their criminal record.”
Zickar was also “instrumental” in starting a program that involved city residents in a door-to-door, Welcome Week campaign for students who rented homes, she added.
He is current chair of the Wood County Democratic Party and has been advisor to the BGSU College Democrats. “Unlike most other organization advisors, Dr. Zickar makes it a point to attend our weekly meetings as often as he can, and was highly instrumental in showing our members that with hard work and grassroots organizing, even college students can have an impact on local as well as national-level politics,” wrote Sean Lutzmann, College Democrats secretary, in support of Zickar’s nomination.
Ekstrand pointed out, too, that “while Mike has been active politically in the Bowling Green community, he is well known for his multi-partisan approach to politics and his desire to ensure that students of all political stripes are heard on campus, in the community and in his classroom.”
Also backing Zickar’s nomination was his psychology colleague, Dr. Scott Highhouse, who enumerated more examples of his engagement, including:
• His service in the late 1990s as faculty representative to students at the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center, where he helped new students make the home-to-college transition and participated in Habitat for Humanity trips to West Virginia,
• His work with another colleague, Dr. William Balzer, and several doctoral students to study the morale of priests in the Toledo Diocese—a project that provided feedback to the priests and resulted in an article in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
• His collaboration with the Center for Regional Development to conduct focus groups and a survey of perceived needs related to economic development in northwest Ohio.
“He has successfully blended service and teaching to make an impact on northwest Ohio, as well as on the people who have had the valuable opportunity to serve with him,” Highhouse noted.
Zickar, who holds master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial-organizational psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also chairs BGSU’s I-O psychology program.
General Studies Writing Program
Nominating GSW for the unit honor was Dr. Kristine Blair, English department chair, who wrote that the program “plays an important leadership role in student success and is ultimately a hallmark of all students’ educational experience at BGSU.”
On the “front lines” of student recruitment and success are the program’s non-tenure-track faculty, who “are among the hardest working faculty on this campus,” Blair noted.
“As a rhetoric and writing specialist,” she continued, “I can attest that the teaching of writing is one of the most labor-intensive roles a faculty member can play in terms of curriculum development, portfolio assessment, and individual conferencing necessary for student retention. The sheer number of students served by GSW, typically around 4,000 annually, suggest the significant impact of GSW instruction at BGSU.”
Instructors and administrative staff in the program are often recognized for excellence in teaching, Blair pointed out, citing Amy Rybak’s Arts and Sciences Distinguished Instructor/Lecturer Award and the BG Experience Distinguished Teaching Award won by Dr. Donna Nelson-Beene, GSW director, in 2006. “GSW staff have also participated in the development of the First-Year Seminar pilot this year, an important retention initiative,” she added.
She referred as well to her service on “committees related to assessment and learning outcomes where GSW is frequently the model for other programs.” In BGSU’s Service Learning Assessment Learning Community, for instance, Nelson-Beene “graciously shared her expertise and curricular materials relating to assessment and portfolio development with both novice and experienced members of the group,” Blair recalled. “All of us were immensely impressed with Dr. Nelson-Beene’s organization and helpfulness, qualities that clearly relate to her skillful administration of GSW.
“Similarly, GSW is often cited nationally for its excellence in assessment, and Dr. Nelson-Beene is a sought after consultant on assessment and other topics related to writing program administration.”
Blair also noted the program’s work with the English department—particularly in selection and training of graduate teaching assistants for English 111 and 112—as an example of “quality control” that further solidifies GSW’s “strong reputation” within the University.
“Given the role GSW plays in the education of all students at BGSU and the quality of the curriculum, I believe the program is long overdue for this recognition,” she wrote.