Since 1998, the Division of Student Affairs has annually awarded one Iowa State University faculty member the Thomas B. Thielen Award. This year’s awardee is Tom Brumm, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering (ABE) and professor-in-charge of online learning for the colleges of engineering and liberal arts and sciences.
The award, named after Iowa State’s vice president of student affairs from 1977-1997, recognizes individuals who strongly support student success. It is the highest honor given by the division.
Brumm was nominated by Roberta Johnson, director of student financial aid, and James Dorsett, director of international students and scholars and interim dean of students, for his experience with assessing student learning and his collaborative efforts with student affairs.
“I had no idea I had even been nominated until I received the call from Dr. Tom Hill (vice president of student affairs) that I’d been selected,” explained Brumm. “I’m not speechless very often, but this time I didn’t know what to say other than how honored I was to receive the award.”
He says the award acknowledges his efforts to put students first in his work and also the importance he places on student success across the university.
At the university level, Brumm has served as chair of the university academic advising committee, been a member of various student award selection committees, and participated in many informal programs to enable student success.
In ABE, he has helped students through advising, developing new curriculum, assisting with career preparation, assessing student learning, researching teaching methods, and mentoring senior design teams. He also acts as the faculty adviser for BioBus and AirPad, two student organizations on campus.
For nearly a decade, Brumm and Steve Mickelson, ABE professor and chair , have led the department’s learning communities. His involvement in these programs stemmed from frustrations he experienced as an undergraduate student, when he sometimes felt disconnected from others studying agricultural engineering. He noted these communities help promotes relationships that encourage students to thrive.
“We now have an established community of learners who are there to support and nurture each other,” he said. “All students can be successful if we provide an environment to do so.”
To provide such an environment outside of the learning communities, Brumm supports the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) movement, which fosters a better understanding of student learning and advancing teaching practices through research and published studies. Under this approach, Brumm constantly works on improving his skills as a teacher and scholar, completing formal studies and publishing papers on the art and science of teaching.
While his role recently shifted to more administrative responsibilities as professor-in-charge of online learning for the colleges of engineering and liberal arts and sciences, Brumm still makes students a priority.
“I believe every student has the potential to be awesome and achieve great things, and I love that my job is to help them get there,” Brumm added.