Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

Maria DiValentin

"I chose to transfer to Lake Superior State University because of the personal attention I would receive. I did not want to attend a large university where I would be a number lost in the masses. The well-rounded curriculum allowed me to obtain my position at John Deere. Having a good balance of theory and hands-on knowledge is critical for my position and Lake State gave me a good foundation in these skills."

Maria DiValentin, Mechanical Engineering 2001
Field Service Representative,
John Deere Power Systems
Waterloo, IA

Distinguished Teaching Award

Richard Conboy, 2004 Recipient

Richard ConboyRichard Conboy, a 16-year veteran of the School of Social Sciences at Lake Superior State University, has been chosen by his students and peers as the recipient of this year's Distinguished Teaching Award.

The award was announced during LSSU's commencement exercises on Saturday in Taffy Abel Arena. The recipient is kept secret until it is announced at graduation each year. A committee of top students and former award recipients selects the Distinguished Teacher from nominations submitted during the spring semester.

"I'll keep it very short," Conboy said when his award was announced at the end of the two-hour ceremony. "Thank you very much. Congratulations and best wishes to the students and your future."

LSSU's commencement program included comments from Mitchel Irwin, director of the Michigan Department of Management and Budget and a 1974 alumnus; Tiffany Jastorff, student respondent; and Betty J. Youngblood, LSSU president.

"The Distinguished Teacher is a member of the LSSU community who models the best of our University, through service to students and a passion for learning," said LSSU Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Bruce Harger in his introduction of Conboy at commencement. "One of the hallmarks of an LSSU education is the personal attention and the relationships that are built through the years. This year.s award recipient marches in those footsteps as well."

A student who nominated Conboy had this to say about him:

"It is important for students far from home to have someone they feel they can talk to.Because he cares about his discipline; because he never condescends; because he is always courteous; because he keeps confidences; because he does not give us the answers but shows us how to find them; because he makes college tough, exciting and rewarding, I nominate him for the Distinguished Teaching Award.

"He makes a difference on our campus. I know this to be true because he has made a difference in my life. He is more than just available; he is involved. He sets a standard for others to follow. He has made a lasting impression..."

Conboy, hired at LSSU in 1988 as an associate professor in political science, has received nominations for the Distinguished Teaching Award many times over the years. His career at LSSU has been busy. In 1989, he was appointed associate coordinator of the Center for Social Research along with Prof. Susan Ratwik, a position he holds today. The center has assisted in research projects and surveys for a number of public bodies, including the city of Sault Ste. Marie. He received tenure in September 1991 and was promoted to professor in September 1993.

Conboy served three years as dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Social Sciences and returned to faculty status in July 1997, when he was named coordinator of the Graduate Studies and International Studies programs. During a sabbatical leave in the 1999-2000 academic year, he conducted an extensive examination, which will result in a manuscript of Sen. Phil Hart's political career.

Conboy and his wife, Ronnie, have two children, Matthew and Anna.

Student Respondent Tiffany Jastorff of Pierre, South Dakota was introduced by Biology Professor Steve Person, himself the recipient of the LSSU Distinguished Teaching Award in 1979. Person called his introduction his "last official act" on campus since he is retiring after 31 years of service.

"I can't imagine a better last task than to introduce Tiffany Jastorff," Person said.

Jastorff, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in biology, encouraged students in an "entertaining, short and sweet" speech to "do what makes you happy. Have confidence in your abilities, even if no one else does."

For the "sweet" part of her speech, Jastorff asked her fellow grads to reach under their seats, where she had taped a Tootsie Roll under each one.

Nearly 700 graduates, LSSU's fourth largest class, received diplomas on Saturday.


Dereck Wonnacutt

Dereck Wonnacutt
Robotics and Computer Science

"Lake Superior State is the only robotics program of its kind in the country. I can work up any research or senior project idea with a professor or my advisor. I studied for a year in Japan through LSSU's connection with the Japan Center for Michigan Universities, and became fluent in Japanese. A Japanese company called Fanuc makes most of the robots in our lab. I'd like to roll my senior research project into a career with Fanuc that bridges the two countries and cultures."

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