Exceptional Faculty

Recipients of Clark's annual faculty awards announced at Commencement      

2016 Exceptional Faculty Awards

The 2016 Exceptional Faculty Award recipients are, left to right, Joseph Cavalli, Dr. Kathleen Chatfield, Heather McAfee, and Doug Mrazek.

During the 2016 Commencement ceremony, President Robert K. Knight announced the names of the recipients of the 2016 Clark College Exceptional Faculty Awards. The awards are presented annually to full-time and part-time faculty members. Nominations can be submitted by Clark College students, faculty, classified employees, administrators, alumni, Board members, and Foundation directors.

The awards are made possible through an endowed trust fund established by the Washington State Legislature and the Clark College Exceptional Faculty Endowment Fund, which was established in 1993. That fund provides recognition of exemplary work performance, positive impact on students, professional commitment, and other contributions to the college.

This year’s Exceptional Faculty members are:

Joe Cavalli, History

Joseph Cavalli has taught history at schools in Croatia, Italy, and Bahrain. He began teaching at Clark shortly after returning to the Pacific Northwest in 2006. For the past five years, he has also served as the director of Clark’s award-winning Model United Nations program. He also teaches history through Clark College’s non-credit Mature Learning program and at Mt. Hood Community College.

Cavalli says he sees history more as a context for understanding the world than as a rote memorization of names and dates. “It’s not about me giving students information,” he says. “What I want to impart is the love of learning and the need to be curious.”

Students appreciate Cavalli’s efforts to make history relevant to their current lives. “I had no interest in history whatsoever until I took his class,” wrote one student. “After my first class with him, I was enthralled. Now, history is my favorite subject and my current major.”

Dr. Kathleen Chatfield, Business Technology and Management

Over the course of her 21 years at Clark, Dr. Kathleen Chatfield has taught a variety of courses, including keyboarding, microcomputer applications, Microsoft Excel, e-commerce, and project management. In truth, however, her influence goes far beyond those subjects. In fact, she has been a part of every online class offered at Clark College through her work as the senior instructional designer for the college’s eLearning Department, where she helps Clark faculty learn how to develop online classes.

“It is a daunting task to guide so many full-time and part-time instructors through all the different learning systems, while also helping them to maintain their unique styles and philosophies of teaching,” wrote one nominator. “Yet Dr. Chatfield manages to accomplish this task.”

Dr. Chatfield continues to teach classes to students as well, saying that this experience helps her better understand the needs and challenges of faculty. This adds up to more than a full-time workload, but Dr. Chatfield says, “I’m doing what I love. I’ve never woken up in the morning and said, ‘Oh no, I have to go to work.’”

Heather McAfee, Geography

Heather McAfee first became interested in geography while working for the U.S. Department of Defense, doing cultural analysis of Iraq that included mapping the civilian population there. “I love geography because it is the most interdisciplinary subject you can study,” she says. “It touches everything, even health—we have medical geography. Recently in my classes, we’ve looked at and mapped the spread of the Zika virus.”

McAfee serves as chair of the Geography Department at Clark; she also serves on the college’s AA Transfer Committee, the Library of the Future Taskforce, and the Learning Communities Taskforce. Additionally, McAfee has worked to create connections between Clark and community organizations, including the Water Resources Education Center and the Vanport Mosaic.

“She made her classroom a comfortable area where every person’s opinion and outlook was highly valued,” wrote one student. “Her teachings went much deeper than the textbook material. She wanted us to dig deep and relate every lesson to our personal lives and experiences, and it taught all of us so much about the world around us.”

Doug Mrazek, French

When Doug Mrazek was job-hunting after receiving his master’s degree in French from the University of Illinois in 1978, one of his professors told him that the Pacific Northwest was so beautiful that if he took a job there, “you’ll never want to leave.”

Those words turned out to be prophetic; Mrazek has devoted 38 years to teaching French at Clark. He has taught generations of Clark students how to conjugate être, led dozens of them on trips through France and Quebec, and helped the French Club put on countless events as its academic advisor.

Small surprise, then, that Mrazek received more than 30 nominations for this award this year. “I’m in amazement,” he says. “It’s a tremendous sense of closure. After a career of 40 years, it’s a nice way to move on.”

Photo: Clark College/Jenny Shadley