Kathy Berchem, Recipient 2008
Assistant Prof. Kathy Berchem, a 1997 alumna of LSSU, was presented with the award, the most prestigious honor given to LSSU faculty, during commencement ceremonies on May 3.
"The distinguished teacher is a member of the LSSU community who exemplifies the best of our University," said Steve Merrill, LSSU dean of Nursing. "She uses creative and innovative methods to convey the subject matter and engage students in learning, and she conveys genuine caring and competence."
A relative newcomer to the LSSU faculty, having been hired in January 2005, Berchem quickly earned the respect and admiration of her students and peers.
"Probably Kathy's greatest strength is her ability to interact with students," Merrill said. ''Student evaluations of her classroom and laboratory teaching are among the most positive for any faculty member. Several students have described her as their favorite professor at LSSU. Kathy does this while having very high expectations of student learning. Her courses are not easy.
"In the classroom, she is very effective at bringing in additional information to supplement and expand on the textbook material, and she clearly conveys enthusiasm and depth of knowledge of the subject matter," Merrill continued.
Merrill said Berchem is highly competent in the laboratory as well, and draws upon her experience as a professional nurse when teaching her students.
"She goes beyond the technical demonstration of the material. She is an outstanding model of the behavior and values of a professional nurse while she is teaching. This is critical for this level of students, as they are at the beginning of their professional development and Kathy's behavior is an excellent foundation for them."
In accepting the award, Berchem recalled meeting chemistry professor Barb Keller, the 2002 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award, in her first year of teaching at LSSU.
''I remember meeting Barb Keller in the hallway at the end of the semester and asking her if she was excited for summer to be here. She said, 'Yes, but I'll miss the students.' I've never forgotten that. Students have really become the focus of my teaching, and mentors have really helped me learn how to be a teacher. Thank you to all of you who have helped me along in this process. I really appreciate it; this is a culmination of what I really love to do."
A native of Ontario, Berchem holds a bachelor of science in nursing from LSSU, a bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of Windsor, and a master of science in nursing, family nurse practitioner track, from Michigan State University. She is licensed to practice in Michigan and Minnesota, and came to LSSU from a position as nurse practitioner at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. In addition to her teaching, she continues practicing as a family nurse practitioner at Petoskey Family Medicine and volunteers her time at free clinics in Sault, Mich. and Sault, Ont.
Berchem's husband, Michael, and more than a dozen family members and friends, were on hand to see her receive the award.