Cameron University announces winners of inaugural Cameron University Choice Awards

Cameron University recognized six members of the faculty and staff as winners of the inaugural Cameron University Choice Awards, which were presented in four categories during a special ceremony on Thursday. Recipients received a $1,000 stipend and a recognition plaque. The Choice Awards were created to recognize members of the campus community who best embrace and advance the mission of the university. 

"The Choice Awards officially recognize what the citizens of southwest Oklahoma already know - that Cameron's faculty and staff are second to none," says President Cindy Ross. "I'm pleased to announce the inaugural winners as we prepare to conclude our Centennial Celebration. These six individuals have excelled by embracing and advancing the mission of Cameron University and specifically the goals defined in the university's strategic plan. In doing so, they are helping propel Cameron into its second century."

Nominations were made by CU students and employees; winners were selected by the members of the university's Executive Council, who were not eligible for the awards. In order to be eligible, nominees must have been employed full-time at Cameron for at least one year.

The University of Choice Award

The University of Choice Award recognizes a current staff or faculty member who is making outstanding contributions toward making Cameron University the University of Choice by providing students a top quality education. Dr. Carla Guthridge, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, received the award.

Guthridge was recognized for engaging her students in the excitement of science and academic inquiry. Examples of her efforts include the Science Detectives Summer Academy, her statewide efforts with EPSCoR and INBRE, serving as an organizer of the Women in Science Event for secondary students, and outreach to area schools including organization of the upcoming DNA Day, scheduled for May 11 in conjunction with Lawton Public Schools. She is also a champion of undergraduate research and serves as a mentor to first-generation and underrepresented college students.

The College Experience of Choice Award

The College Experience of Choice Award recognizes a current staff or faculty member who is making outstanding contributions toward making Cameron University the College Experience of Choice by fostering a traditional collegiate atmosphere. This year's recipient is Zeak Naifeh, Director of Student Activities. Naifeh's presence on campus is felt by every CU student; his nomination refers to him as "the major driving force in enhancing and promoting an active campus life for students." Programs he has initiated include Ask an Aggie, the CU Leadership Academy, Rollin' with the Aggies, and CU at the Game, among others. In addition, he coordinated two community-wide Centennial Celebration events, bringing comedian B.J. Novak to campus last fall and overseeing the recent Augustana/SafetySuit concert.

The Location of Choice Award

The Location of Choice Award recognizes a current staff or faculty member who is making outstanding contributions toward making Cameron University the Location of Choice for community and regional events. John French, Grounds Foreman, and Dr. Anton Wohlers, Assistant Professor of History and Government, each received the award.

French has been instrumental for his leadership and hard work in bringing color and life to the Cameron campus, where a welcoming environment has been achieved through careful planning and the diligent oversight of CU's landscape. He has played a crucial role in establishing Cameron as a beautiful and inviting place for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

For the past year, Dr. Wohlers has been the driving force in bringing a number of special events to the Cameron campus. These include the 2008 Oklahoma Political Science Association annual conference, a forum on the economic growth of southwest Oklahoma, a special Constitution Day panel that focused on the relationship between tribal and federal governments, and an upcoming Teacher Institute funded by the Oklahoma Humanities Council.

The Partner of Choice Award

The Partner of Choice Award recognizes a current staff or faculty member who is making outstanding contributions toward making Cameron University the Partner of Choice by expanding existing and developing new community and area partnerships that will contribute to the growth and prosperity of southwest Oklahoma. The inaugural recipients are Don Aguilar, Associate Professor and Chair, Multi-Media Design, and Arun Tilak, Assistant Director, Center for Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Studies (CETES).

The nomination for Aguilar cited his tireless efforts in listening and responding to the needs of Fort Sill, for pioneering the first cooperative agreements between Cameron and the Great Plains Career Technology Center, for providing strong support for the companies in CETES, and for being a campus leader in supporting area businesses such as AST and Eagle Systems.

Tilak was recognized for his leadership in forming partnerships between Cameron and area businesses and effectively providing students experience in working with these companies. One such partnership with Wilco Machine and Fabrication, Inc. in Marlow resulted in a direct donation to the university.

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 April 24, 2009
09-112