Two Faculty Members Receive Iman Awards For Research and Teaching

Posted November 03, 2010

Two faculty members will each receive $5,000 awards in recognition of their outstanding teaching and research during a 4 p.m. ceremony Monday, Nov. 8, in the Tadtman Board Room at the K-State Alumni Center.

The annual Dr. Ron and Rae Iman Outstanding Faculty Awards are sponsored by the K-State Alumni Association and are made possible through a gift from Dr. Ron and Rae Iman. A reception will follow the ceremony, and both events are open to the public.

Mary Beth Kirkham, professor of agronomy, will receive the 2010-11 Iman Outstanding Faculty Award for Research. The recipient of the 2010-11 Iman Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching is Michael Wesch, associate professor of anthropology.

Mary Beth KirkhamKirkham's award recognizes faculty members who have distinguished themselves in their chosen profession and who have contributed significantly through research to improve the betterment of the educational experience, or whose research has had a significant impact on their area of study.

Kirkham joined the K-State faculty in 1980 and is an authority in plant-water relations and the uptake of heavy metals by crops grown on polluted soil. She was the first to document water-potential gradient in tall and semi-dwarf wheat cultivars. More recently, she is examining the effects of gravity on plants.

Her nominator, P.V. Vara Prasad, director of the K-State Center for Sorghum Improvement, said, "Dr. Kirkham is one of the very few scientists around the globe who is in the forefront of sciences in multiple disciplines."

Wesch's award honors a full-time K-State faculty member for excellence in high-quality instruction, strong relationships with students inside and outside the classroom, and a reputation for scholarship and distinguished service to the university.

Michael WeschWesch teaches the 400-student Cultural Anthropology lecture and the 200-student Religion in Culture, as well as other classes. He was named the 2008 CASE Carnegie Foundation U.S. Professor of the Year.

His nominator and department head, Betsy Cauble, said, "It is difficult to judge him as a teacher, because he does not simply 'teach' a good course, he creates a life-changing event for the students. They may walk in naive about the world; they leave thoughtful global citizens."

Since joining the faculty in 2004, Wesch has been known for his creative use of weaving technology, computer software and the Internet into his teaching methods.

"We are so pleased to honor these outstanding K-State faculty members," said Amy Button Renz, president and CEO of the K-State Alumni Association. "Dr. Kirkham and Dr. Wesch are certainly worthy of this special recognition. We also are grateful to Ron and Rae Iman for their generous commitment to make these awards possible."

The Imans reside in Albuquerque, N.M. Ron earned three degrees from K-State, a bachelor’s degree in math education in 1962, a master’s degree in 1970 and a doctorate in statistics in 1973. He has been a life member of the Alumni Association since 1963. He is a past member of the Alumni Association’s board of directors, a KSU Foundation trustee and a member of the Arts and Sciences Advisory Council. He received the university’s Arts and Sciences Distinguished Service Award in 1996.