Faculty Senate Distinguished Service Award

Mary NatvigDr. Mary Natvig, musicology, is an expert on the history of music, but her contributions to students, the University and the College of Musical Arts are thoroughly modern and forward-thinking. Her longtime commitment and dedication earned her the 2017 Faculty Senate Distinguished Service Award.

Presented at the Faculty Excellence Awards on April 13, the honor included a $1,000 cash prize and a reserved parking spot for a year.

Natvig joined the University in 1990 as an assistant professor of musicology and rose to full professor over the next several years. She has gone far beyond her academic discipline in thinking about the overall improvement of undergraduate curriculum, mentoring and advising, community support for the arts, and in participating in efforts to advance all those areas.

Her service also extends to the community, where she frequently shares her skill as a violinist with local chamber ensembles, pit orchestras and church services. She has been involved with local social service organizations, and has organized student performances at nursing homes and other venues.

“Her most recent initiative in our college is to host a food pantry for students who for various financial reasons might need occasional assistance,” wrote nominators Dr. William Mathis, dean of the College of Musical Arts, and Dr. Marilyn Shrude, Distinguished Artist Professor.

Her support of students and the arts extends to all majors.

“It may not be common knowledge,” Mathis and Shrude added, “but Dr. Natvig with the guidance of Dean Richard Kennell masterminded a brilliant strategy to establish a living/learning community in one of our residence halls, which is now known as Arts Village. It was their shared vision that dared to bring this dream to reality. She served as the first director and has been a source of support and guidance throughout its years of existence.”

“As one of the first living/learning communities, there was no template from which Dr. Natvig worked,” recalled Steven Boone, theatre and film. “Instead she guided the community into its place at BGSU through personal drive and a sense of what the arts in higher education could be.”

Natvig has been among those at the University leading the retooling of the general education curriculum and has worked tirelessly on behalf of undergraduate students, her nominators wrote. She has served on about 25 committees directly affecting undergraduates, from the Undergraduate Council to Strategic Enrollment Management.

Her detailed and thoughtful work has “contributed meaningfully and importantly to the mission of Bowling Green State University and has distinguished our program from others around the country as one highly focused on the continuous improvement of undergraduate student learning,” wrote Dr. Julie Matuga, associate vice provost for institutional effectiveness.

“University colleagues with whom she has worked have attested to her outstanding leadership, creative vision and intrepid fortitude in carving out experiences that continue to enhance and support undergraduate education at BGSU,” said Mathis and Shrude.

As a teacher, she possesses the “quintessential qualities of a great college professor,” said Tom Gorman, assistant dean in the College of Health and Human Services. “I had the good fortune of being paired with Dr. Natvig as the ‘staff partner’ instructor for BGSU 1000. The goal of this freshman transition course was to assist first-year students with the basics of college life. Dr. Natvig provided much more. Her students were required to read and respond to questions about the meaning of art and music in our culture, and discuss the responsibility of a creative person to his or her community. She required students to think beyond their immediate young adult goals and envision how their life choices would impact their families, communities, and our society. She also brought in guests to discuss a wide range of careers in the performing arts – and not just artists. . . . As an observer and a colleague, I learned a lot from Dr. Natvig’s dedication. It was a good example, helping to improve my own interactions with students, and reminding me of the primary relationship at the heart of our university: the relationship between student and professor.”

When the College of Musical Arts found itself in need of more general education courses, Natvig stepped up to teach innumerable sections of Exploring Music and Music of World Cultures, said Mathis and Shrude, establishing those courses as vital and popular offerings for all majors. And then when it became important to offer online classes, she developed and taught those classes online. “Her indomitable spirit of ‘we CAN and WILL do this’ inspires her to strategically imagine a pathway to eventual realization.”

Her devotion to her students goes outside the classroom as well, said Dawn Hubbell-Staeble, general studies writing. She is an excellent and caring adviser who often works with students on the weekends from a table in a local coffee shop, helping them not only with academic but also life concerns.

Her “outstanding loyalty and overwhelming generosity” over the last 27 years have made her a most deserving recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, all her nominators agreed.