Kalamazoo College today awarded one faculty member and one staff member with two of the highest awards the College bestows on its employees. Professor of Psychology Bob Batsell was named the recipient of the 2022–23 Lucasse Fellowship for Excellence in Scholarship, honoring his contributions in creative work, research and publication; and Student Health and Counseling Centers Office Coordinator Jen Combes was granted the W. Haydn Ambrose Prize, recognizing her outstanding service to the Kalamazoo College community.
Batsell, recognized for his teaching as a former Kurt D. Kaufman endowed chair, has served K since 1999. His expertise is in classical conditioning with a focus on taste-aversion learning.
Batsell has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles with 18 written during his years at K and 13 with K students as co-authors. His work has appeared in publications such as Language and Motivation, Learning and Behavior and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. He also has authored a number of chapters in edited volumes.
Writing in support of Batsell’s Lucasse nomination, one student said, “Dr. Batsell always pushes to know more so he can teach more. … He cares deeply about his work and his students. I would not be the student I am with his help, and I know I’m adequately prepared to engage in and publish research in the future thanks to his help.”
A faculty colleague described Batsell’s work on a test-enhanced learning project by saying that Batsell, “invited me to be a collaborator on the project, and in his capacity, I have gotten to witness firsthand Bob’s keen mind for research design and methodology. Not only does he think critically about alternative hypotheses and potential pitfalls, but he is also proactive about suggesting solutions.”
A ceremony to confer the Lucasse Fellowship traditionally occurs in the spring term, where the honored faculty member speaks regarding their work.
Combes was one of 37 nominees for this year’s Ambrose Prize and she wrote four nominations herself for other people. She was nominated for the honor by multiple colleagues across multiple divisions who shared different stories along similar themes.
Of Combes, one nominator said, “The pandemic shined a light on the varied and important work that talented and creative people managed to deliver during the most challenging of circumstances.”
Yet Combes’ leadership goes beyond issues related to the pandemic. Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez noted in today’s all-campus gathering that Combes plays a significant role in organizing vaccination clinics and is often the first and last point of contact when students need assistance.
“Students rely on her expertise and kindness to understand how best to use their resources,” he said. “She strikes a careful balance between the practical and the compassionate sides of her work. She uses her vast knowledge and over 15 years of K experience to deliver actionable, student-centered support with an empathetic word and a gentle smile.”
The Ambrose Prize is named after W. Haydn Ambrose, who served K for more than 20 years in a variety of roles, including assistant to the president for church relations, dean of admission and financial aid, and vice president for development. Ambrose was known for being thoughtful in the projects he addressed and treating people with respect. In addition to a financial award, Combes has earned a crystal award to commemorate the achievement and an invitation to sit on the Prize’s selection committee for two years.
Congratulations to both the honorees.