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MSUM recognizes Mattern for teaching excellence

Jody Mattern has been recognized with two prestigious awards for her role as associate professor in the Mass Communications department at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Just recently, she was the presented with the Excellence in Teaching Award by the Academic Affairs Council for her noteworthy contributions to campus academic life; and earlier this summer was named the 2008 GIFT (Great Ideas for Teachers) grand prize winner at the annual AEJMC conference in Chicago for her project "Forging Critical Links between Academics and Professionals." GIFT is an organization that endorses the continuous advancement of education.

This marks Mattern's fifth year at MSUM. Prior to joining the university, she worked in advertising at the G.L. Ness Agency for 19 years, and taught high school English and coached at Pelican Rapids High School. She graduated from MSUM in 1973 with a degree in English and physical education and went on to earn her Masters Degree and Ph.D. in communication from North Dakota State University

During her tenure, Mattern has been involved in numerous areas including teaching advertising campaign classes, advising two student organizations, arranging internship experiences, leading departmental assessment efforts, and assisting with the Student Academic Conference. Presenters of the award acknowledged it was these contributions, paired with innovative teaching strategies, that made Mattern an obvious choice.

Receiving the Excellence in Teaching award was "extremely meaningful," Mattern said in a recent interview. "Teaching is what I've always wanted to do, and do well. Receiving the award puts me in the company of some faculty members who I admire greatly. Plus, it reaffirms to me that I made the right decision to change tracks this late in my career."

Being selected the GIFT grand prize winner was equally as gratifying. This designation was the result of Mattern's mission to develop a network of professionals to appraise graduating students' portfolios in advance of their employment search.

The project has been a two-year endeavor, with the concept first formulated for a portfolio class Mattern taught, and the second year seeing the class continue along with submitting the resourced material for consideration at the GIFT conference.

The project relies on the approximate 40 local, regional and national professionals who evaluate student efforts on varying levels, providing valuable advice that results in improved achievement, as well as insight into employer expectations.

"Advertising is so subjective," Mattern noted. "I might like something a student has done and others might not. This whole process gives them a lot of confidence in what they are doing, along with valuable advice and input on how they can improve their efforts."

Mattern said it is great to be back in teaching, and is loving every minute at the university level. "I really like what I do. I'm absolutely delighted to be associated with MSUM because, here, it's all about the student. I enjoy working with college students because it's an entirely different relationship than either elementary or high school teachers have with students. This is more of a collaborative relationship. We're working together to try and prepare them to be successful in an advertising career."

Relishing the opportunities her position affords her, Mattern has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. She is presently working on a creativity study for which she plans to submit a paper at the 2009 Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communications conference in Boston; has become a board member for the Fargo-Moorhead AdFed that meets twice a month; and also plans to enroll in a design course, hopefully in the near future, to learn a little more about that particular field.

She also remains busy supervising her student run advertising agency, Flypaper Creative Services at MSUM. "I get a new group of students every year and I thoroughly enjoy it. The group that I have now is just wonderful and so very talented. It's like having my own little ad agency. It's a lot of fun and I really get a kick out of it."

Mattern said she is also energized by her family's support. She and her husband Rich, employed as Information Specialist at North Dakota State University; and serving as West Fargo mayor since 2002, moved to the community in 1984, relocating to their present home on the west side in 1995. They have two daughters, Jessie, 20, a student at MSUM, and Annie, 11, a sixth grader at Cheney Middle School. Mattern was thrilled to have her daughters accompany her to Chicago this summer when she received her GIFT award.

"The reason Rich and I were attracted to West Fargo is because we both came from small towns," Mattern said. "When we moved to West Fargo, it just felt like home. I couldn't be happier that Rich has become involved in city affairs. It has been very fulfilling for him and for me. We both feel lucky and proud to be part of the West Fargo community."