The Colorado State University Department of Construction Management is proud to announce winners among the College of Health and Human Sciences All-College Awards for 2021-2022. Recognition at the college level acknowledges the prestige, dedication, and loyalty of our Ram Built Nation. We applaud our colleagues and alumni for these well-deserved accolades.
Outstanding Teacher Award: Jeff Wilkes
Jeff Wilkes was nominated based on his dedication to teaching and to his students. During his time as faculty in the CM program, he has taught Introduction to Construction Management, Graphic Communications for Construction, Introduction to Road Construction, Equipment and Methods, and Soils for Construction Managers. One of his many strengths is his desire to make course content interesting and accessible to students. He goes above and beyond to provide students with the best learning opportunities and has updated each course by creating new exercises, assignments, exams, and case studies.
Wilkes artfully balances the care and attention he provides with high standards that keep students accountable for their own learning outcomes. In addition to his assigned teaching load, Wilkes shares his industry experience with the students in a setting that allows them to practice classroom fundamentals on real-world projects. This year he served as the faculty liaison for two boot camp mini courses, which involves collaborating with industry representatives to teach cutting-edge technologies over a 5-week period. He has coached two competition teams each year since 2016, with multiple student teams winning or placing at national competitions.
Wilkes consistently receives outstanding teaching evaluations and student comments. Below are a few recent student comments received, highlighting Wilkes’ teaching strengths:
“I could write a book on Jeff’s commitment to education. His passion for teaching and love for student success makes him deserving of the Outstanding Teaching Award. Jeff has always portrayed someone that I aspire to be like. He has done so much not only for his students, but also for the community as a whole.” – CM student Horacio Gomez
“My decision to transfer was somewhat of an overwhelming and spontaneous choice. Unsure if I made the right decision, Jeff confirmed it through his kindness, empathy, and supportive teaching structure. He has the ability to teach classroom content that will help his students succeed in a career, but most importantly, he teaches lessons that students are able to take with them through their lives.” – CM student Kendall Peterson
Since joining CSU as a senior instructor in 2014, Wilkes has been selected by students in Construction Management as the outstanding faculty of the year in both 2015 and 2020. He was also recognized by the Associated Schools of Construction with its Outstanding Teaching Award in Region 6 in 2020. As part of his teaching philosophy Wilkes shared, “Above all else, I’d like the students to know that I’m here for them. I let the students know that my door is always open, and their success is my number one priority. My goal is to make their CM experience informative and rewarding, and to do my best to prepare them for the careers that lie ahead.”
Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Early Career Teaching Award: Nicole Dufalla
The Non-Tenure-Track (NTT) Faculty Early Career Teaching Award recognizes an NTT faculty member for outstanding contributions in teaching since their appointment to Colorado State University. The intent of the award is to recognize a newer member of the faculty who demonstrates excellence in teaching.
Nicole Dufalla was nominated because of her outstanding contributions as an instructor to the Department of Construction Management in its teaching mission, and the incredible impact she is already having on both department curriculum and student learning.
Dufalla is an explosive talent. Since joining CSU as an Instructor in Spring 2020, she has taught Introduction to Construction Materials, Soils for Construction Managers, and Asphalt Materials and Construction. Dufalla used her expertise and industry knowledge as a licensed professional engineer, to significantly revise both Soils for Construction Managers and Asphalt Materials and Construction and develop a new course on Concrete Material Properties and Construction.
Dufalla’s student evaluations have been extremely positive with comments centering around her active teaching style, responsive grading and feedback, and content presentation. In addition, her impact includes growing students’ interest in heavy construction. While there are other contributing factors to this trend, Dufalla’s influence in the classroom cannot be understated.
Outside of the classroom, Dufalla has also excelled. Last year, she took on the role of faculty adviser for the Associated Schools of Construction competition team on preconstruction. Despite having no previous experience in coaching a student competition team, she led the department’s preconstruction team to a first-place finish in the nation out of 20+ teams from other universities.
Furthermore, Dufalla serves an outstanding role model and demonstrates a passion in making Construction Management a more inclusive environment. In addition to serving on the department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee during its inaugural year, Dufalla stepped in to serve as a faculty adviser to EMPOWER, a mentoring group for women in the department that is designed to cultivate a community of support by fostering connection with both other women in CM as well as with women in the construction industry.
Outstanding Adviser Award: Courtney Hillig and Michael Kallsen
This year, the college gave a group award recognizing academic support coordinators and professional advisers. CM academic success coordinators Courtney Hillig and Michael Kallsen were recognized with 17 other advisers in the college for navigating the pandemic by providing outstanding student services. Due to in-person restrictions on campus, these advisers worked tirelessly to continue to serve students well. The mission of the CM academic success coordinators is to foster academic growth, personal development, and career readiness so students may find their fit and make a positive impact in the construction management industry.
College of Health and Human Sciences Outstanding Alumnus Award: Gordon Marks
This award honors outstanding alumni from the College who, through their distinguished careers and service to the university, state, nation, or world, have brought honor to Colorado State University and to themselves.
Gordon Marks was recognized by the College based on his impressive career and incredible philanthropic support to Construction Management through CM Cares and the Patterson Beavers Heavy Civil Chair, as a champion for the Swinerton Foundation gift to the CM Cares endowment, and through establishing the Gordon and Joan Marks Scholarship. Read more about Marks’ dedication to the Department of Construction Management.
Friend of the College Award: Rick Tucker
This award recognizes individuals and organizations who have supported the college in extraordinary ways.
One of three Friend of the College Awardees this year is Rick Tucker(’90), who is the executive vice president of Hensel Phelps, headquartered in Greeley, Colorado. Tucker is a graduate of CSU with a B.S. in construction management.
Growing up in Fort Collins, Tucker began his college career enrolled in an engineering school. After three semesters, he announced to his parents that he would not continue with engineering, that he did not know what direction he would take, but he was certain he did not want to perform calculations in a cubicle for the rest of his life. Luckily, he discovered the CM Program.
After graduating from CSU, Tucker began his career with Hensel Phelps, where he rose through the ranks from field engineer, office engineer, project engineer, project manager, operations manager, vice president and plains district manager, to his current role as executive vice president.
Giving back is an important aspect of Tucker’s life. He serves on the Board of Directors for both the Denver Civic Ventures Inc., and Colorado Youth Outdoors, served as Chairman of AGC Colorado, and remains highly engaged in promoting the quality of the Construction Management Program. He has served on the Executive Council of the Professional Advisory Development Board for CM for 10 years, including four years as chair.