Graduation tribute to honor late professor

By Leanne Vastbinder, Staff Writer

At the end of each school year, Newman students gather to attend graduation and listen to a keynote speech given by the current recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award. This award, given at the annual Academic Awards Banquet, goes to the full-time faculty member who has exhibited “an innovative or dynamic approach to courses, course revisions and teaching techniques.” This past April, assistant professor of communications, Dr. Suzanne Berg, received the honor posthumously, after her unexpected passing last February.

Professors, such as Audrey Hane, have worked with other faculty members to ensure that Dr. Berg will still have the honor of being a part of the upcoming graduation ceremony. They concluded that a video tribute to Dr. Berg should replace the traditional keynote commencement speech.

“Our hope is to create a message that will inspire students by capturing Dr. Berg’s essence and life philosophy. The goal of the video is to capture her essence as an educator and mentor and to try to discern what she would say to graduates if she had the opportunity to address them,” Dr. Hane said.

Dr. Berg was very popular among students during her five years at Newman and was known for her charisma. For Dr. Hane, Dr. Suzanne Berg was not only a coworker but also a friend.

“Dr. Berg inspired me to be a better faculty member.  I felt like I could learn from her classroom teaching style which I would characterize as bold, fun, uplifting and insightful. As a colleague, I enjoyed her perspective on life and her laugh.  Her friendship was a gift--I miss so many things about her.”

Students will have the opportunity to view the tribute video to Dr. Berg at the upcoming graduation ceremony this May.

PHOTO: DR. SUZANNE BERG passed away in February of 2018 at 36, and posthumously won the Teaching Excellence Award. Courtesy Photo, Newman Advancement