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CALS Awards: Spitzer Excellence in Teaching and WALSAA Outstanding Advisor Awards

Continuing with our celebration of this year’s CALS Award recipients, we are sharing information about the winners of the Spitzer Excellence in Teaching Award and the WALSAA Outstanding Advisor Award this week.

Katie Vermillion Kalmon

Katie Vermillion Kalmon is a faculty associate in the Department of Genetics. She has been with the department since 2016 and acts both as an instructor and an advisor to genetics students. Despite her short time with the department so far, Vermillion Kalmon has already left a great impact on both the program and major.

Vermillion Kalmon teaches multiple courses in the department, including the primary capstone course for the genetics and genomes major. Her classes are very popular, as students appreciate her phenomenal teaching skills and caring personality. Her students are her number one priority, and they know it. Vermillion Kalmon’s student reviews place her in the top group of faculty and instructors in the department in terms of student satisfaction.

Vermillion Kalmon’s work as an instructor extends to online classes, too. In 2018, she was awarded an Educational Innovation of Online Course Development Grant from the Division of Continuing Studies with fellow Faculty Associate Kit Tillman. The pair successfully developed two highly successful online classes that have helped expand the department’s undergraduate enrollments. Vermillion Kalmon’s training and experience with online courses later also became instrumental to the Department of Genetics during the switch from in-person to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was the go-to person for help with online resources. In addition, Vermillion Kalmon organized multiple faculty workshops to train others through the various platforms and discuss successes and challenges of remote learning.

Vermillion Kalmon’s passion for teaching, students, and expanding education makes her well-deserving of the Spitzer Excellence in Teaching Award.

Katie Butzen

Katie Butzen is an advisor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences who has been with the department for 3.5 years. As an advisor, Butzen’s job is to assist undergraduate and graduate students with any questions or concerns, but she has always gone above and beyond for her students. Butzen has helped support 131 students since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic arrived at UW–Madison.

Even though Butzen has a large number of students to advise, she is always accessible and willing to help in any way possible. Butzen has a vast knowledge of happenings around the nutritional sciences department and campus, which makes her weekly emails to students, faculty, and staff all the more helpful. Her main goal is to improve the professional and mental wellbeing of all students. This is especially applicable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite her busy schedule, Butzen has time blocked out each week entirely dedicated to connecting with students.

Butzen has helped out the nutritional sciences department in other ways as well. She is dedicated to making the department more diverse. Butzen has worked with graduate students on increasing their racial awareness by assisting them on creating a diversity letter, as well as hosting a town hall to discuss important issues. One year, Butzen even traveled to Hawaii to expand the department’s recruitment efforts. Butzen’s dedication also extends to student organizations. She assisted in coordinating and organizing UW–Madison’s first Food Justice Conference with the nutritional science student organizations Campus Food Shed and Slow Food UW.

Butzen’s dedication and passion to the department and students make her a worthy recipient of the WALSAA Outstanding Advisor Award.