College of Education honors faculty, staff


By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education

PULLMAN, Wash. – The College of Education presented its annual faculty and staff excellence awards last week:

Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching: Sarah Newcomer, literacy education, Tri-Cities campus. Newcomer ( was recognized for her enthusiasm with students and the innovative focus she places on language and culture in her literacy courses.

“She helps our preservice teachers not only comprehend and appreciate culturally and linguistically diverse learners, but how to teach them effectively in future classrooms,” said the dean, Mike Trevisan.

Faculty Excellence Award in Service: Gordon Gates, educational leadership, Spokane campus. Gates ( has helped revise the handbook, curriculum and admissions process, but interacting with others is where he shines.

“Gordon generously gives his time to his students by being on graduate committees, providing thoughtful feedback and promoting individual thinking,” Trevisan said. “He’s also very invested in serving on committees for the college, university and beyond.”

Faculty Excellence Award in Research: Rich Lamb, science education, Pullman campus. Lamb’s ( Neurocognition Science Lab and Data Center grant development has moved at a rapid pace, with almost $1 million in external funding and 10 proposals under review.

“He had a vision for a research lab that would facilitate physiological measures of many cognitive function concepts,” Trevisan said. “His research is drawing a lot of collaborative interest, and the university will benefit from this for years to come.”

Staff Excellence Award: Kelly LaGrutta, Spokane campus. LaGrutta ( has worked to improve student support services and maintains the cross-campus course schedule for teaching and learning, educational leadership and the research courses.

“This is no small undertaking, given the need for constant communication and the persistent need to address the challenges that arise in predicting enrollments,” Trevisan said. “She has superb listening skills and readily reaches out to others with words of encouragement.”