Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Showcase Awards

Sahlin Faculty Excellence Awards


Recognizing outstanding achievement

Sahlin Awards honor faculty members who epitomize the highest level of excellence in the pursuit of the University’s goals. Four awards recognize accomplishments in the following areas of faculty performance:

Jesse Spohnholz

Professor, History

Jesse Spohnholz’s curricular innovations and leadership make him a model for educators nationwide. Spohnholz is founding director of WSU’s Roots of Contemporary Issues program, in which students learn to address controversial issues facing the world in a reasoned manner: using evidence, critical thinking, and clear communication. As director of that program for nine years, Spohnholz trained and mentored faculty across the WSU system. Peers and former students praise his courses as engaging, rigorous, and meticulously designed lessons. Undergraduate and graduate researchers under his mentorship also present their research to first-year students to provide models for student achievement. 

Spohnholz’ leadership in his field has extensive reach. He is co-editor of a textbook series based on the Roots of Contemporary Issues program, published by Oxford University Press. He now directs History for the 21st Century, a nationwide project to reform undergraduate history education. He speaks at national conferences about educational reform.

Jill McCluskey

Regents Professor, School of Economic Sciences

The first female director of the School of Economic Sciences, Jill McCluskey has built a vibrant environment that fosters collaboration and creativity. Her strategic planning has yielded improvements in teaching, research, and scholarship. Under her watch the school has added five talented faculty members. She has strengthened the focus and commitment of faculty, staff, and graduate students, while building rapport among all. She forged connections with alumni to support fundraising and create job placement opportunities for students. McCluskey works diligently, acts compassionately, and cares deeply for the greater good. She leads by example and commands the utmost respect.

McCluskey has held numerous leadership positions in her field, including past president and fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, AAAS Fellow, WAEA Fellow, and Director of the International Association of Agricultural Economists.  She is the first WSU faculty member to serve as editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Eric Johnson

Professor, Teaching and Learning

Eric Johnson partners with immigrant students and families as they navigate the path to a college education. Passionate about working with community groups and local schools, he goes far beyond his job responsibilities. He enjoys presenting on language and education to multilingual students in local schools. He has served on the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as chair of the Education Outreach Committee, and currently sits on the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Multilingual Education Advisory Committee to help guide family engagement policies in public schools. In addition to teaching WSU courses, he works as a long-term substitute teacher in local K-12 schools. 

Accessing higher education in the U.S. can be challenging and confusing for immigrant communities. By presenting college access information—typically in Spanish—to families at community forums and home visits, Dr. Johnson helps demystify higher education pathways that can lead to a more rewarding future. 

Olusola Adesope

Professor, Kinesiology and Educational Psychology

Olusola Adesope’s research has profoundly influenced teaching and learning across many disciplines. His inquiries span the fields of educational psychology, learning sciences, instructional design, and technology. He is a pioneer in using meta-analyses and systematic reviews to advance evidence-based practices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. He studies the use of multimedia and concept maps to improve teaching and learning in science courses. That research is among the most cited in the learning sciences. He has also conducted novel research examining the development and use of intelligent systems in fields such as engineering and health care.

Adesope’s more than 140 papers have been cited 6,252 times. His scholarship has garnered many awards. Other universities often seek his leadership for their research and grant programs. He has been an invited keynote speaker for scholarly audiences worldwide. At WSU, he mentors both students and faculty.


Previous recipients


2020-2021Carolyn F. Ross
2019-2020Erika Gudrun Offerdahl
2018-19Anita Vasavada,
chemical engineering and bioengineering,
integrative physiology and neuroscience
2017-18Ray Sun, history
2016-17Julie A. Kmec, sociology
2015-16Charles Munson, finance
2014-15Kristen A. Johnson, animal sciences
2013-14Charles Pezeshki, mechanical and materials engineering
2012-13Catherine A. Elstad, pharmaceutical sciences
2011-12Lori M. Carris, plant pathology


2020-2021Greg Crouch
2019-2020Stephen Bollens
2018-19Lori Wiest, music
2017-18Marvin Pitts, mechanical and materials engineering
2016-17Craig Parks, psychology
2015-16John Roll, WSU Spokane
2014-15Vicki A. McCracken, economic sciences
2013-14Debra Inglis, plant pathology
2012-13Amy S. Wharton, sociology
2011-12Robert E. Rosenman, economic sciences

Outreach and engagement

2020-2021Ka'imi Sinclair
2019-2020Cheryl B. Schultz
2018-19Dale A. Moore, veterinary clinical sciences
2017-18Joe Harrison, animal sciences
2016-17Douglas Walsh, entomology
2015-16Carol Black, entomology
2014-15Kim D. Patten, horticulture, WSU Extension
2013-14Sue B. Clark, chemistry
2012-13Clayton J. Mosher, sociology
2011-12Gary G. Grove, plant pathology

Research, scholarship & arts

2020-2021Hans P.A. Van Dongen
2019-2020Gregory W. Yasinitsky
2018-19Susmita Bose, mechanical and materials engineering
2017-18William M. Hamlin, English
2016-17Douglas R. Call, veterinary medicine
2015-16Diane Cook, electrical engineering and computer science
2014-15Kenneth L. Nash, chemistry
2013-14Thomas Besser, veterinary microbiology and pathology
2012-13Kerry W. Hipps, chemistry
2011-12Wendy C. Brown, veterinary microbiology and pathology