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Dr. Walter Borowski and Dr. Carol Sommer have earned the highest honor for teaching excellence bestowed by Eastern Kentucky University.

Borowski, a professor in the University’s Department of Geosciences, and Sommer, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counselor Education, have each received the 2020-22 EKU Foundation Professorship. The annual honor recognizes those who demonstrate outstanding abilities in the three primary roles of a faculty member: teaching, service and research. The professorship provides a salary supplement for two years.

In addition to teaching a variety of geology and oceanography courses, Borowski has served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator of several projects related to fecal microbe contamination in Madison County waterways. He also was a co-principal investigator for two National Science Foundation grants – one to enhance research capacity at the EKU-managed Lilley Cornett Woods Appalachian Ecological Research Station, and another titled “SEEing Science in Appalachia: Serving, Exploring and Engaging in an Honors Interdisciplinary Science Course” at EKU, which involved science outreach and instruction to Madison Middle School students.

Borowski, who had previously logged 12 years as a production/exploration geologist/geoscientist, has twice received the EKU University Fellow Award for research and won the University’s Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching. Since 2017, he has served as co-editor of the Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science.

He earned bachelor’s degrees in geology and biology from Case Western Reserve University, a master’s degree in geology from the University of Tennessee, and a doctoral degree in geology from the University of North Carolina.

Sommer joined the EKU faculty in 2010 after three years at North Dakota State University and four years at the University of Mississippi. While at Eastern, she was named Outstanding Counselor Educator by the Kentucky Counseling Association, was an EKU Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year Award nominee, and received the Outstanding Scholarship Award and the Significant Contributor Award from the College of Education. She served five years as the director of the college’s Counselor Education and Supervision Doctoral Concentration and two years as clinical experience coordinator. Sommer has also served two terms on the University’s Faculty Senate.

Sommer has served on the editorial boards of Counselor Educator and Supervision, and the Kentucky Counseling Association Journal. She also has 13 years of experience as a professional clinical counselor.

Sommer earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree in counseling from Boston University and a doctoral degree in educational psychology from Southern Illinois University.

All full-time tenured faculty members at the University are eligible for the award. The selection is made by a committee composed of faculty, and the process provides for a high degree of peer review. Sixty-seven professors have been honored for teaching excellence by the EKU Foundation since the awards were first presented in 1988.

In addition, EKU is announcing the winner of the prestigious Rowlett Award. This year’s winner is Dr. Guenter Schuster. Still doing research, but technically retired, Schuster was also named a Foundation Professor in 2009.  His $5,000 award will go toward publication costs at the University of Alabama Press for his study of crayfish. Schuster came to EKU in 1979 and retired in 2009 after thirty years of distinguished service. Schuster became a full professor of biology at EKU in 1986 after earning his master’s here in 1973, and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in 1977.  

Schuster has spent much of his career working as a trained aquatic zoologist. His research interests include the insect order Trichoptera (caddisflies), the bivalve family Unionidae (freshwater mussels) and the decapod family Cambaridae (crayfishes). His research emphasis were the taxonomy, systematics, natural history, biogeography and ecology of each of these groups.

The University extends a hearty public thank you to both of the selection committees (the Foundation Professors Selection Committee chaired by Richard Crosby and the Rowlett Award Committee chaired by Liz Hansen) that produced these deserving candidates.