Two Faculty Win Awards for Academic Leadership

Two Faculty Win Awards for Academic Leadership

Two MSU College of Arts & Letters faculty members are being recognized for their outstanding leadership, performance, and excellence in their respective fields.

Ann Folino White, Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre, received the College of Arts & Letters Faculty Leadership Award for her innovative and effective curricular decisions, her ability to enact change for the betterment of the Theatre Department, and her contributions to the College of Arts & Letters.

Peter Johnston, Digital Media/Film Production Manager, earned the College of Arts & Letters Fixed-Term Faculty and Academic Specialist Leadership Excellence Award for his outstanding performance in the Film Studies program and for fostering high-quality work in his field.

Ann Folino White

Folino White was nominated for the College of Arts & Letters Faculty Leadership Award by Professor Kirk Domer, former Department of Theatre Chairperson, for her “education, scholarship, creative activity, and service.” Her nomination was supported by Professor Rob Roznowski, Head of Acting and Directing in the Department of Theatre.

“Not only has her leadership enhanced my life, but the lives of my colleagues, our students, and the broader community we all serve,” Domer said. “Her enthusiasm for her teaching innovation and leadership positions at MSU makes her a natural selection for this distinguished award.”       

Domer described the pace of her activities as “intense” and the quality of her output as “impressive.”

Ann Folino White, Associate Professor of Theatre

“Dr. Folino White’s dedication to teaching and mentoring Theatre students is readily apparent,” he said. “As we shifted to remote teaching, she has continued to inspire the sophomores [in the course that we co-taught] to consider their theatrical training that both gains them a broadly applicable hard skillset and key soft skills such as perceptiveness, alacrity, and mettle.”

Since arriving at Michigan State University in 2008, Folino White has held multiple leadership positioned. She chaired the President’s Advisory Committee on Disabilities Issues, the College Advisory Committee, as well as the Committee to develop the Citizens Scholars program. Since 2013, Dr. Folino White has been the head of the Theatre Studies and Management area and a member of the Department of Theatre’s Advisory Committee. Folino White also has served as a mentor to multiple Theatre Studies faculty and is part of an international mentoring program for new theatre studies scholars.

“At the end of every interaction with Dr. Folino White, I realize I have learned something through thoughtful debate and her view of student education,” Roznowski said. “These interactions have revealed a true leader in education, scholarship, creative activity, and service within the Department, College, University, and nationally. I support her consideration for this award.”

Not only has her leadership enhanced my life, but the lives of my colleagues, our students, and the broader community we all serve. Her enthusiasm for her teaching innovation and leadership positions at MSU makes her a natural selection for this distinguished award.

Kirk Domer, Professor and former Department of Theatre Chairperson

This is not the only instance where Folino White was recognized as an outstanding faculty member. In 2017, she was recognized as the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year by the Michigan Association of State Universities. In 2016, she received the Mid-Michigan Alumni Association Award for Quality in Undergraduate Teaching. She also was awarded a Lilly Fellowship from the Academic Advancement Network in 2018-2019.

“Dr. Folino White’s record presents a common thread to include and empower students as well as colleagues; this extends to all levels of Department, College, University, and Professional activity,” said professor Kirk Domer.

Folino White received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Theatre and Drama, an M.A. in Theatre, and a Gender Studies Certificate, all from Northwestern University. She is a proud MSU alumna, earning B.A. in Theatre, and an Honors College member.

Peter Johnston

With his contributions as the developer of the Introduction to Digital Film class and as co-founder of the MSU Filmetry Festival, Johnston is viewed as “absolutely instrumental” to the Film Studies program at MSU.

He was nominated for the Fixed Term Faculty and Academic Specialist Leadership Excellence Award by Justus Nieland, Professor and Chair of the Department of English. His nomination was supported by Jeffrey Wray, Professor of English and Film Studies, and Joshua Yumibe, Professor of English and Director of the Film Studies program.

“Pete has rapidly established himself as a terrific teacher and a student favorite,” Nieland said. “In the classroom, Pete is professional and sharp, knowing exactly how to establish and maintain expectations for student performance in a different learning environment. He knows how to get the best work from students, and he does so in a way that both challenges them and puts them at ease.”

Pete Johnston, Digital Media/Film Production Manager

Besides the FLM 260 course, Johnston regularly teaches courses such as Intro to Film Production, Cinematography, Editing Aesthetics, and the Fiction Film Production capstone.

“Film Studies simply could not function at the high level of scholarly, pedagogical, and public engagement that it does without his essential contributions,” Yumibe said. “He is a wonderful and brilliant colleague, indispensable and exactly the type of collaborator who will help shape and achieve the bold vision we have for Michigan State University in the 21st century.”

Johnston has led the Creative Industry and Culture in L.A. spring break study away program with colleague Kate Sonka, and with Nieland, he has led the Film in Britain study abroad program in London and Edinburgh.

“Working with Pete on the program was one of the most pleasurable and rewarding collaborative teaching experiences I’ve had in nearly 20 years,” Nieland said. “On site, Pete was indefatigable and imaginative, brimming with ideas about curriculum, guest speakers, and excursions.”

Film Studies simply could not function at the high level of scholarly, pedagogical, and public engagement that it does without his essential contributions.

Joshua Yumibe, Professor of English and Director of Film Studies program

Johnston also is an accomplished filmmaker whose short fiction and documentary works have screened in film festivals across the country. His recent documentaries, Walking For Ded, won Best Documentary at the 2019 Cinetopia: Detroit Voices Film Festival and What Happens to a Dream Deferred, won, among other awards, the Advocacy in Latino Film Award at the 2018 Tulipanes Latino Art and Film Festival. 

“I am thankful for the continuing opportunities to work with and learn from him,” Wray said. “His intellect, artistic talent, and willingness to go above and beyond has made Pete an invaluable person for our department, College, and the University.”

Johnston previously had a joint appointment as the Senior Videographer for the College of Arts & Letters Marketing Office.

“In this role, he was extremely dynamic and valued,” Yumibe said. “He was responsible for telling important stories about our students, faculty, and alumni through impactful multimedia. Since 2013, he has written, directed, and produced more than 100 videos that have garnered more than 120,000 views on the College YouTube channel making it one of the leading and most popular channels across the university and a destination to find new and engaging content for many viewers.”

Johnston has an M.A. in Digital Media Arts from MSU and a B.F.A. in Photography from Alma College.

Written by Alec Parr