Known as “the heart and soul” of the sociology program at Black Hills State University, Dr. Laura Colmenero-Chilberg was recently awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award, the highest honor a faculty member can receive.
BHSU President Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., surprised Colmenero-Chilberg with a classroom visit to deliver the good news in front of her students.
“The Distinguished Faculty Award at BHSU is a statement of how faculty view Dr. Colmenero-Chilberg’s ability to teach inside the classroom,” Jackson told the students gathered in a new course, Child Neglect and Abuse, that Colmenero-Chilberg created this year.
Faculty members at BHSU nominate their colleagues for the annual award. The Distinguished Faculty Award is based on three areas: high quality teaching, high quality research, and high quality service.
Colmenero-Chilberg has taught at BHSU for 13 years. Dr. James Hess, chair of the School of Behavioral Sciences, said she always earns the highest ratings in her teaching evaluations from students year after year.
“She is viewed by her students as a kind, caring professional who is highly dedicated to their success. Her personal touch helps students develop a commitment to the discipline of sociology,” said Hess.
Dr. Cheryl Anagnopoulos, professor of psychology at BHSU, said Colmenero-Chilberg brings humor, expertise, energy, commitment, leadership and kindness to the University.
“I have witnessed Dr. Colmenero-Chilberg spending limitless hours advising students on their coursework, their schedules, and helping develop their career trajectories,” said Anagnopoulos.
Students of sociology, the scientific study of society including patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture, can pursue a variety of careers including roles in criminal justice, human services, healthcare, research, government and business.
Colmenero-Chilberg said a new world was opened up to her when a professor introduced her to the idea of looking at the world from the perspective of a group rather than from our own personal biography.
“Not only does sociology identify the challenges we face in society, but it also investigates how we can meet these challenges and create a better, more equal world,” said Colmenero-Chilberg. “That’s powerful both for me and for my students.”
Colmenero-Chilberg has contributed to the field of sociology through her publications and research on mental illness, gender and the intersections of work, gender, and class. She recently became the sole Editor for the Great Plains Sociologist
, the official Journal of the Great Plains Sociological Association. Colmenero-Chilberg has also served on the Board of Directors for the Artemis House/Victims of Violence Intervention Program in Spearfish.
In addition to her service to students and the field of sociology, Colmenero-Chilberg has been a leader in service to the University where she has twice served as President of the Faculty Senate.
“Receiving this award from my peers is especially rewarding. I deeply appreciate the honor they have bestowed on me,” said Colmenero-Chilberg.
Colmenero-Chilberg earned both her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from South Dakota State University and her master’s from Pittsburg State University.
The BHSU Distinguished Faculty Award is presented each spring to encourage and reward outstanding teaching and professional dedication by faculty members at BHSU. The recipient is formally recognized during the spring commencement ceremony and is invited to deliver a keynote address at the following year’s commencement ceremony. In addition, the recipient receives a monetary award for personal and professional growth.