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INDIANAPOLIS -- Rebecca Critser, a graduate student pursuing a Juris Doctor in conjunction with a health law certificate at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law as well as a Master of Arts in philosophy from the Department of Philosophy in the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has been selected as the recipient of the Richard and Kaye Woltman Endowed Fellowship in Health Communications for the 2017-18 academic year in recognition of her endeavors in bioethics, philosophy and health care law.

Critser earned her Bachelor of Science in animal behavior at Bucknell University and worked in the biotech industry before coming to IUPUI. In the spring of 2016, she began an externship at the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics, where she met Susan Hickman, co-director of the Research in Palliative and End-of-Life Communication and Training Center -- or RESPECT Center -- and one of the two directors of the Woltman fellowship.

"Dr. Hickman and I conducted a review of all Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment forms, a tool used to document patient preferences for end-of-life care, currently in use throughout the United States. The goal is to help strengthen this already valuable tool. The externship was nearing its end, but now, through this fellowship, I can continue that work and gain valuable insight into the difficulties encountered by health care professionals who provide end-of-life care as well as the patients they serve," said Critser.

The Richard and Kaye Woltman Endowed Fellowship in Health Communications is a one-year endowed fellowship of $5,000 that enables a graduate student with an interest in palliative and end-of-life communications to attain a higher understanding of strategies to improve communication with seriously ill patients and their loved ones. By developing current students through this fellowship, the Woltman family, the RESPECT Center and the IU School of Nursing hope to promote excellence and build upon positive communication with the next generation of nurses and caregivers.

This program is supported through a generous gift from the Richard and Kaye Woltman family and is directed by IU School of Nursing adjunct faculty member Lucia D. Wocial, in collaboration with School of Nursing professor Hickman.

"Rebecca was selected as the next Woltman scholar due to her commitment to bioethics and the law and her desire to improve patient care at a policy level," Wocial said. "She values and recognizes the human lives behind the ethical issues that she studies, and she brings a powerful combination of care and concern for justice to the work we do."

Over the next year, Critser will attend the RESPECT Center's monthly meetings as well as the RESPECT Conference on March 3 in Carmel, Indiana. She will support the work of the Woltman Inter-professional Communication Scholars Program, or WISP, an innovative training program for health care providers who want to improve teamwork with colleagues and advance communication skills with patients and families. She will also assist with other details related to the RESPECT Center and WISP, as well as produce regular reports detailing activities that contribute to her ongoing development in the area of palliative and end-of-life communication.

"I am excited to be able to contribute to the work that Dr. Hickman and Dr. Wocial are doing at the RESPECT Center," Critser said. "And, thanks to the Woltman family, I can continue to acquire this valuable knowledge and a better understanding of end-of-life care. They are lessons that I will carry into the future work I do as an ethicist and a lawyer."

This fellowship will exist in perpetuity, continuing to enable graduate students to focus their studies on communication during end-of-life and palliative care in the hopes of a brighter future for caregiver-patient relationships.

The RESPECT Center, founded in July 2010, is one of eight official campus-level signature centers. This prestigious honor recognizes the tremendous success of the RESPECT Center in supporting faculty in obtaining funding as well as in growing the national reputation of IUPUI and Indiana University for expertise in palliative and end-of-life care.

The Indiana University School of Nursing is nationally recognized for research across the life span, involving healthy populations, chronic illness management, and palliative and end-of-life care in addition to the most effective ways to educate nurses.

Three School of Liberal Arts faculty members have been recognized for their work with 2016 Outstanding Distinguished Faculty Awards. The awards recognize faculty members who have distinguished themselves in teaching, research, and/or service over multiple years. The faculty assembly’s faculty affairs committee selected this year’s winners from among those nominated.

Outstanding tenure-track faculty award

Timothy Lyons
Chair of philosophy and associate professor

Professor Lyons focuses on scientific realism. His research endeavors include a £250,000 research grant on the topic “The challenge to scientific realism from the history of science” from the United Kingdom-based Arts and Humanities Research Council. The grant has allowed Lyons and his research partner, Durham University’s Peter Vickers, to collaborate with a number of world-renowned figures from the philosophy of science community. His work also has been published in some of the most important journals in the field, such as Philosophy of Science, Erkenntnis, and The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. As a professor, Lyons challenges his students and draws them into research at a professional level. Beyond the classroom, he is praised by his colleagues for his leadership as Department of Philosophy chair and his service to the campus.

Outstanding lecturer

Amira Mashhour
Lecturer in Arabic and director of the Arabic program

Amira Mashhour has taught in the School of Liberal Arts since 1991 in various faculty roles. She first served the school as associate faculty in economics (1991-1999), French (1992-2001), anthropology (2003-2010), women's studies (2003-2010), and Arabic (2002-2010), then as visiting lecturer (2010-2011). Since 2011, she has been lecturer in the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the first director of the program in Arabic. As a mentor to students in the individualized majors program, she helps students create a major that crosses disciplinary boundaries, using her knowledge of faculty members and relevant courses in the School of Liberal Arts and other IUPUI schools. Beyond IUPUI, she has organized an exhibition in Washington D.C., that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Islamic Society of North America. She also participated in Gaza 2050, a collaboration between IUPUI and Gaza University. She is also a liaison between IUPUI and the community, particularly the Islamic community.

Outstanding associate faculty member

Steven Overbey
Communication studies associate faculty

An associate faculty member since 2001, Steven Overbey has taught fundamentals of speech communication, introduction to interpersonal communication, and business and professional communication. He also teaches in the “Upward Bound” program, through which high school students earn dual credit. Overbey also serves as a mentor in the Students Taking Academic Responsibility (STAR) program, where he has successfully mentored more than ten at-risk students, thereby helping IUPUI realize its goals of improving persistence and retention of at-risk populations. Overbey has earned the Gateway Teaching Academy's bronze and silver awards as well as Themed Learning Communities certificates and awards. He regularly participates in Gateway trainings and other professional development opportunities on campus.