Employees of the Year 2021

Employees from faculty and staff gathered virtually on April 15th for an annual employee appreciation celebration.


Two faculty members and one staff member were given special recognition for excellence in teaching, outstanding scholarship, and employee of the year.

Anita Simmons

Anita Simmons, MSN, RN

Excellence in Teaching and Leadership

Presented by Dr. Cindy Fenske

Our Faculty Recognition Award for teaching excellence this year is a team leader, an innovator, and a skilled teacher. Their instructional skills have garnered semester after semester of exceptional student evaluations, commenting on their strong knowledge base and ability to help students develop and hone critical thinking skills.  This person has demonstrated innovative and collaborative teaching skills that directly influence other team members within the school.  She is a humble servant who has an open door to students and nursing team members, always ready to offer a smile, a helping hand, or an innovative suggestion.

An excerpt from her nomination for this award reads as follows:

“She creates and implements simulations that effectively and realistically represent the types of experiences nursing student need in order to develop clinical judgment skills. She allows students to make mistakes in order to learn. Anita is an expert in debriefing, which is truly an art that develops after much experience and practice.  She is able to get students to self-assess their strengths and weaknesses, critical thinking abilities, skill performance, and response to the situation. As a devout Christian, Anita is also highly gifted at helping students practice, discuss and apply their faith in simulation experiences.  She is able to do this in such a way, that many of her students demonstrate care for the manikin’s spiritual concerns and even develop a degree of comfort with this sometimes daunting task.”

Some examples of Anita’s creative teaching and simulation development include a mass casualty bombing simulation that occurred outside the North building; a courtroom scenario based on students’ documentation from a patient earlier in the semester, including subpoenas and attorneys; and a large inter-professional safety simulation utilizing Justice and Public Policy students and nursing students dealing with a chaotic prom night car accident situation.

The influence Anita Simmons has had on so many CUAA nursing students has been huge. She has made a difference in the level of preparedness by our nursing graduates, and has put the CUAA nursing program on the map as an institution that is highly respected by employers of nurses.  Anita has done more than her share in shaping these nursing school graduates into outstanding representatives of our school through her innovation, instruction, and mentor ship of students.

Please join me in congratulating our Faculty Recognition Award winner for Teaching Excellence, Anita Simmons!

Learn more about the Ronald and Marvel Jones School of Nursing.


Stephen ParrishStephen Parrish, MA, PhD

Outstanding Scholarship

Presented by Dr. Erin Laverick

Good evening.  I have the pleasure of introducing the recipient for this year’s faculty scholarship award.

This person is one of the most humble and soft-spoken colleagues I have ever worked with, and so I am very happy to share a bit of his work with you.  This person joined Concordia University Ann Arbor in 1999.  During this time, this person has become a prolific scholar, publishing numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Philosophia Christi and The Concordia Theological Journal. 

Now I realize I will give the surprise away with this next nugget of information, but this is a big deal, and shows why this person is so deserving of the scholarship award.  In 2019, this person published his most recent book entitled Atheism? A Critical Analysis.  Atheism was this person’s fifth book publication during his time at CUAA. And he is busy writing his sixth book –one that will focus on metaethics. Wow! Would you please join me in congratulating, Dr. Stephen Parrish, our recipient for this year’s faculty scholarship award!

Learn more about the school of arts and sciences.


Brian StretchBrian Stretch

Employee of the Year

Presented by Dr. Ryan Peterson

Our Concordia Employee of the Year is described as one who has gone above and beyond to ensure and exemplify a 5-star experience to colleagues and students. This person has worked countless hours to prepare the University for learning, communication, and a smooth transition to remote work and additional technology needs inside and outside of the classroom.

His nomination for this award reads as follows:

“I personally see the excellence in his work as he solves each technology issue and need quickly and efficiently.  He inspires me to continue to be readily available to serve my fellow students and colleagues at a moment’s notice in the same way he does.”

Another nomination notes that:

“His work ethic has rubbed off on many of the students that we have ‘graduated’ out of the IT office.”

Brian Stretch, IT Systems Analyst, has served at Concordia for nearly 10 years. While he operates quietly in the background, he has consistently demonstrated patience and support for others. He works tirelessly to stay current on the tech trends and news.

Brian has been and will continue to be a true gift and blessing to CUAA. He is a vital member of the IT Team and has faithfully served with professionalism and poise.

Please join me in congratulating our Employee of the Year, Brian Stretch!

View CUAA faculty and staff awardees from 2020.

— Rachel (Ferry) Thoms is manager of campus communications for Concordia University Ann Arbor. She may be reached at rachel.thoms@cuaa.edu or 734-995-7403.

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