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Celebrating inclusive excellence, administration, service and performance: 2024 College of Science Awards

By Hannah Ashton

The College of Science gathered on Feb. 29 to recognize and celebrate our high achieving faculty and staff at the 2024 Combined Awards Ceremony. The evening celebrated the very best in the College, from teaching, advising and research to inclusive excellence, administration and service.

The following faculty and staff received awards in the categories of Inclusive Excellence, Administration, Service and Performance.

Congratulations to all the awardees!

College of Science Inclusive Excellence Award

The Inclusive Excellence @ OSU program received the 2023-2024 College of Science Inclusive Excellence Award. Members of the group’s facilitator team accepted the award on everyone's behalf.

The IE@OSU program was designed to create institutional change in support of inclusive STEM education, and improve student learning experiences and outcomes, specifically for underrepresented students majoring in science and math.

To address this challenge, the fellowship was designed to directly support faculty who want to create change within their unique contexts. Since 2019, 81 fellows have carried out actions that range from developing curriculum that highlights the contributions of diverse scientists, bringing a sense of belonging into introductory science courses, focusing on mental health and belonging in first year graduate advising and creating new opportunities for diverse students at Cascades.

In 2019, the College of Science launched its Inclusive Excellence award to recognize the outstanding work of faculty, staff or students in advancing inclusive excellence here at Oregon State. With the launch of our Diversity Action Plan, we have expanded this award to include an Inclusive Excellence Lecture.

Gladys Valley Award for Exemplary Administrative Support

Rusty Root, chemistry facilities and operations manager, received the Gladys Valley Award for exceptional service to his department.

Rusty Root smiling for a photo.

Rusty Root

Nominators describe Root as the “glue that keeps the Chemistry Department operational.”

His efficiency in handling diverse tasks, from managing personnel and addressing building issues to coordinating emergency responses and improving ADA access, showcases his dedication and exceptional problem solving skills.

His colleagues noted many examples of his “above and beyond” service and passion for supporting the department. Last summer, when the elevator in Gilbert Hall broke down, Root was quick to call for a meeting including numerous campus departments and took on the role as coordinator to keep the replacement project moving forward and make sure there is adequate ADA access to the building.

An employee of ABM Custodial noted Root’s commitment to equity and inclusive professionalism. He is known for volunteering to help with activities related to diversity, equity and inclusion and treating staff with dignity and respect.

“Rusty cares about people. He cares about OSU. Because of this, because of Rusty’s professionalism, OSU is a better place for all. I wish we had more people just like him,” one nominator wrote.

Distinguished Service Award

Fred DeAngelis, senior instructor I and director of introductory labs, received the Distinguished Service Award for his exceptional contributions since joining the physics department in 2019. This award recognizes a faculty, staff member or student whose outstanding contributions helped to support and sustain the quality and effectiveness of our College.

Fred DeAngelis smiling for a photo.

Fred DeAngelis

Fred has consistently exceeded expectations, leading transformational initiatives in physics education. He is responsible for a comprehensive renovation of introductory lab activities, management and enhancement of the student tutoring center, and the development of a training and mentoring program for graduate students. The tutoring center alone sees more than 2,000 student visits each term. His colleagues also noted his heroic efforts during the pandemic to transition labs and tutoring to remote operations.

He is passionate about TA safety training and posting information on emergency resources. He also thoroughly reviewed physics teaching laboratory equipment to remove and replace unused, outdated or unsafe equipment.

One nominator highlighted his commitment to inclusivity, as evidenced by his role as faculty advisor of Physicists for Inclusion in Science and creation of Scientists Spotlights to present the work of traditional underrepresented scientists to students.

This nominator wrote: “Fred has created an open and caring environment for our teaching assistants and their students, and has quietly assumed a leadership role wherever he recognizes there is work to be done.”

Champion of Science Award

Vrushali Bokil, associate dean of research and graduate studies, received The Champion of Science award. Chosen by the dean, this award recognizes an individual who demonstrates excellence and extra effort that goes above and beyond what is requested. This award is modeled, including its name, after the President’s Beaver Champion Award.

Vrushali Bokil smiling for a photo.

Vrushali Bokil

Bokil was selected for her outstanding accomplishments in three different arenas, all of which she has made huge contributions in: as interim dean, as a tireless advocate for inclusive excellence, and as the extraordinary leader of the college’s research support and promotion enterprise.

As interim dean over the last year, Bokil steered the College forward in implementing the new strategic plan, recruiting and hiring new leaders, researchers and educations handling myriad challenges with wisdom and respect for her colleagues. University leadership and provost saw how she handled these challenges and selected her to lead the university’s task force on AI, one of the most critical areas campus will be evolving over the next few months and years.

Her commitment to equity and justice are reflected in a host of examples within the college, the university and beyond Oregon State. She led the College’s Diversity, Equity, Justice and Inclusion Working Group which led to the Diversity Action Plan—making the College of Science the first at OSU to create such a plan.

“Most striking to me is how Vrushali does what I think is the most important way for a leader to advance equity and justice, which is to ask at every single table, in every single conversation, ‘How does this affect equity and justice?’ She goes one step further, and asks ‘How can we do better?’ And she asks these questions every single time, which I appreciate so much when I get busy and forget to slow down and ask myself,” said Dean Eleanor Feingold.

Throughout her career, she consistently has exhibited a strong work ethic, fostered collaborations for scientific advancement and improved the delivery of exceptional, accessible science education and literacy at the university and beyond. Her vision and guidance contribute immeasurably to the growth and success of the academic community in the College of Science.