News & Events




Press Release



April 1, 2011

Clasen, McWhirt to receive NISOD Excellence Awards


With a dedication to helping students succeed, Cowley College instructors Joe Clasen and Amy McWhirt will receive Excellence Awards from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development this May in Austin, Texas.

Slade Griffiths, vice president of academic affairs at Cowley College, thought the NISOD committee made a wise decision in their selection of Clasen and McWhirt as this year’s recipients of Excellence Awards.
“Both are excellent teachers at the college and embody everything you want to have in terms of quality instruction,” Griffiths said.

Clasen, who has worked at Cowley since 2007, serves as the director of the Nondestructive Testing program. Along with NDT classes, Clasen also teaches courses in Technical Math, Industrial Materials and Blueprint Reading. He has brought the NDT field into the online setting and helped create the worlds first NDT associate degree program.

“Joe works non-stop and tirelessly to provide education to individuals to assist them in working in the NDT field,” Griffiths said.

Clasen gets joy out of watching a student take an interest and succeed in one of his courses.

“I really like the fact that when you are working with the students, you get to see the aha moment and then as they are graduating I also get to assist them with finding a job,” Clasen said.

Along with being an academic advisor, Clasen is also a SkillsUSA advisor and a member of the American Society of Nondestructive Testing.

McWhirt, who serves as Cowley College’s Director of Academic Preparation and an instructor in the Humanities Department, has spent the past seven years at Cowley where she teaches beginning Spanish and basic English writing courses.

As the Director of Academic Preparation, she is responsible for providing support to adjunct instructors and ensuring that the curriculum the school uses in its developmental English courses is the most effective for students.

“Teaching is just something I feel compelled to do, so obviously I am thrilled to have confirmation that I may have chosen the correct career path, but I am also humbled because there is such a tradition of excellence in teaching at Cowley,” McWhirt said.

Growing up, McWhirt says she was one of those students who always sat at the front of the class and loved being in school. 

“Learning new things has been, and continues to be, my passion,” McWhirt said. “Teaching is such a wonderful profession because you have the opportunity to take your own passions and use them to help others find theirs. I go to work, every day, and feel like what I do is meaningful and makes a difference in someone’s life.”

McWhirt has been a presenter at the NISOD and NADE conferences, and has served on several committees at Cowley. She currently serves as a member of the AQIP Steering Committee, Multi-Cultural Scholars Program Advisory Committee, chair of the AQIP Category 1 writing team, and co-directs the Multi-Cultural Scholars Mentoring Program.

She also serves as an academic advisor and serves 10 to 15 students each semester.

“Amy is extremely active in committees at the college and is always looking for new methods and concepts to help students learn,” Griffiths said. “She genuinely cares about her students.”

McWhirt has been the recipient of the National Security Exchange Program Grant to study in Mexico, earned a BA in Spanish and History and MEd from Southwestern College, and a MA in TESOL from Emporia State University.

Both McWhirt and Clasen speak glowingly of their experiences of working at Cowley.

“Working at Cowley has helped me to become a better professional,” McWhirt said. “I have had so many opportunities here to hone my craft because I have received excellent guidance from mentors and friends who genuinely believe in the important role community college’s play in transforming lives through education.”

The same goes for Clasen.

“I really like working at Cowley since it really is a open place to work and the people are good about helping each other out,” Clasen said.

The 33rd annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence will be held May 29-June 1 in Austin, Texas.