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Oct. 30, 2019

Honoring MSU's educators

A new initiative at MSU recognizes educators in the community who contribute to the university’s teaching and learning mission.  

The Thank an Educator initiative, which launched last year through #iteachmsu at the MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, is a community-led effort aimed at valuing and celebrating the contributions that so many make to MSU. 

The initiative honors faculty, teaching assistants, undergraduate learning assistants, instructional designers, academic advisers and other educators who provide outstanding undergraduate, graduate and professional education to students.

Educators can share resources, connect with others and grow in their educator practice by visiting

Makena Neal is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education who also serves as the educator for professional development at the Hub. Neal headed the Thank an Educator initiative.

Neal and the #iteachmsu team recognized it can be difficult to fully recognize and leverage the community’s teaching and learning contributions on such a large campus. This initiative provided the community with an outlet to commend educators who’ve made a difference.

Educators who are nominated are notified via email and invited to attend the annual Educator Awards ceremony where they are presented a certificate of recognition. 

Last year, 80 educators were nominated by fellow Spartans and recognized at the first annual #iteachmsu Educator Awards. Administrators in departments where educators have been recognized are also notified twice a year with a list of their employees who have been recognized.

Mark Auslander, director of the MSU Museum and associate professor in the Departments of Anthropology and History, was one of many educators who was nominated for his efforts and contributions to the MSU community.

Auslander is a sociocultural and historical anthropologist; he works at the intersection of ritual practice, aesthetics, environmental transformation, kinship and political consciousness in Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Diaspora.

Auslander has led numerous community-engaged, service-learning courses with his students. He has given them opportunities to partner with communities for documentary projects and social justice initiatives, curate art exhibitions with African refugee communities and co-curate poetry performances with youth in correctional facilities.

Dawn Baker, chief of staff at MSU Information Technology, nominated Auslander for his exceptional contributions. 

"The way Mark works across the university while still being newer to MSU sets a standard we can all learn from. His depth and breadth of knowledge is significant, and he has taken on some of the most challenging projects on behalf of the university and makes it look easy. I am happy to know someone of his caliber and appreciate his partnership,” Baker said.

Learn more about #iteachmsu at or login here to submit nominations.

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