12 Weber State Faculty Honored With Presidential Teaching Excellence Awards

OGDEN, Utah – Twelve faculty members received the 2022 Weber State University Presidential Teaching Excellence Awards for their teaching impact based on nominations from students and staff.

Weber State president Brad Mortensen surprised the teachers with the news, popping into their classrooms or Zoom meetings to present the award. Their reaction was captured in this short video. Faculty members will be honored, March 22 at 12:30 p.m., during the virtual Faculty Symposium. To register, click here

“Teaching excellence manifests in a variety of ways and has a profound impact on students and their educational success. I wish to thank all who took the time to submit nominations for our faculty members,” Mortensen said. “We received a number of submissions proving the exceptional quality of faculty and teaching that goes on at Weber State.”

The Presidential Teaching Excellence Awards were given to faculty in disciplines across campus:

  • Tomono Adachi, instructor of Japanese
  • Melina Alexander, professor of teacher education
  • Linda Duhadway, associate professor of computer science
  • Ryan Dunn, assistant professor of child and family studies
  • Carrie Jeffrey, assistant professor of nursing
  • Jean Kapenda, instructor of criminal justice
  • Loisanne Kattelman, instructor of accounting
  • Brad Marden, adjunct professor of health sciences
  • Jonathan Marshall, professor of zoology
  • Connie Merrill, assistant professor of nursing
  • Álvaro La Parra-Pérez, associate professor of economics
  • Aminda O’Hare, assistant professor of neuropsychology

Associate professor of economics Álvaro La Parra-Pérez and instructor of Japanese Tomono Adachi embody the passion that excellent teachers have for helping their students advance upward.

“I love economics, and within economics, I love economic history,” La Parra-Pérez said. “My goal is just to transmit the reasons why I love economics and why I think it’s a very powerful tool for much more than students typically think. At the end of the day, economics is about understanding, modeling and predicting the world.”

For at least one student, La Parra-Pérez’s passion convinced them to major in economics, writing, “his teaching method is his commitment to making sure that everyone in the class is following the material.” 

La Parra-Pérez said he was surprised and thought he might be dreaming when Mortensen presented him with the award during his class. 

“It was a feeling of real love. It felt very unreal,” he said. “When you're in academia, you are constantly fighting against the imposter syndrome. I look at my colleagues in the economics department, and it’s like, why not him or her or her? I am surrounded by such an amazing group of colleagues and teachers that I just feel it’s an incredible honor.”

Tomono Adachi has been teaching Japanese since 2015 and is the faculty advisor for Weber State’s Japan Club. Adachi was nominated by a student who wrote that she has a “friendly, energetic spirit” and “cares about me, what I think, and what I’m learning.” The student also praised her efforts outside of the classroom, particularly with the Japan Club where she hosts opportunities for students through cooking lessons, hosting cultural events, and networking with professionals in Japan. 

“I couldn't believe that things I have been doing outside of the class are also recognized by my students and program,” Adachi said. “I was very surprised that someone saw what I was trying to do.”

Adachi said her favorite part of teaching is seeing students come out of their shells and witnessing their growing confidence in speaking Japanese. 

Thanks to donor support, winners each receive a $5,000 award either as a cash stipend or to enhance their teaching through professional development, curriculum development, research or acquiring equipment and technology.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.


Jessica Kokesh, social media editor
801-626-7948 • jessicakokesh@weber.edu


Allison Barlow Hess, Public Relations director
801-626-7948 • ahess@weber.edu