By Jeff Murphy, April 15, 2020
WARRENSBURG, MO – Dawna Lisa (Buchanan) Butterfield, a University of Central Missouri faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding achievement over a long, sustained period of time, is being recognized for her hard work and dedication to UCM and its students. The Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs announces her selection for the 2020 Byler Distinguished Faculty Award.
Considered the top honor for UCM faculty members, the Byler Distinguished Faculty Award is presented each spring in honor of its namesake, William H. Byler, an inventor, author and teacher who graduated from UCM in 1927 with a major in chemistry and physics. He established an endowment fund to provide annual recognition for distinguished faculty performance, evidenced by teaching, scholarly or creative activity and professional-related service.
In considering individuals for the Byler Award, the award selection committee received various letters of support for candidates. The nomination for Butterfield described her as someone who embodies the true spirit of faculty service through her experiences in intensive graduate advising, leadership for a student organization, and contributions made to the institution through service on committees at the university, college and departmental levels.
Butterfield serves as a professor of literacy education and English language learning in the School of Teaching and Learning. In this role, she has worked closely with Matt Thomas, a professor of reading literacy and program coordinator for the Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instruction Program. In his nomination letter, Thomas described Butterfield as a “great model for faculty service” while also pointing out characteristics that led to previous honors such as her selection for the Excellence in Teaching and Distinguished Faculty Awards in the College of Education, as well as the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, which she was presented in 2015.
“Dr. Butterfield is a brilliant teacher and has a long track record of excellent instruction,” Thomas wrote. “She is exceptionally smart, well-spoken, grounded and empathetic, allowing her to connect very meaningfully with her students and advisees, nurturing them forward in their leadership and understanding. And she is able to do this across traditional instruction, hybrid classes, and online offerings.”
Butterfield grew up in Canada and has lived and traveled throughout North America and Europe, including most recently co-leading a study tour to Spain. Her career in education spans more than 30 years, of which nearly 25 years have been spent at UCM. Achieving the rank of professor, she has devoted much of her time serving in the classroom. For approximately five years, beginning in 2012, she served as chair of the Department of Educational Foundations and Literacy, and coordinated the Literacy Education program. With her longstanding passion for teaching, she returned to the classroom where her major assignments continue to be in Literacy Education.
Throughout her tenure at UCM, Butterfield has been a strong advocate for a program that helps teach students who want to serve in the classroom how to instruct K-12 students who are learning to speak English. Her work in this area has included developing and designing a new introductory course on English Language Learners and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy to meet new Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requirements across all teacher education programs.
Butterfield has always demonstrated a strong commitment to engaged learning and future-focused academics. This is evident through previous work that included design and revision of online courses and through training in Quality Matters online design, which provided her knowledge of best practices in online course development. She was active in developing a new Educational Foundations Core, which was adopted by the College of Education Teacher Education Council in 2014.
Butterfield has a record of scholarly endeavors in collaboration with her faculty colleagues. This has contributed to UCM Research Awards, published works, and invitations to participate in professional conferences, which keep her informed of changes in education, culture and society, and alert her to trends and future needs on the horizon.
She has helped foster a culture of service at UCM through her volunteerism. This includes participation in the annual Children’s Literature Festival which brings thousands of young people and their teachers to campus, and establishing a student group, Leading Educator Advocates for Diversity (LEAD), which resulted in a scholarship for students who provide outstanding community service. In addition to her full-time duties as a professor, Butterfield has contributed to the professional growth of others in her field by serving as editor of “The Dragon Lode,” a publication of the International Reading Association.
Asked about what the Byler Award means to her, Butterfield speaks modestly. She noted, “I would like people to know how grateful I am for this recognition, but also just for the chance to live here, teach here and have this wonderful experience. I would never have dreamed that I would have such a rich professional life and such a happy personal life in the middle of the United States. It’s been a great run.”