CWU News

Five CWU Faculty Members Honored as 2020 Distinguished Professors

Central Washington University’s Board of Trustees has honored five members of the university faculty as 2020 Distinguished Professors. The annual award ceremony, which started in 1977, recognizes CWU faculty who have excelled in teaching, research/artistic accomplishment, and public service.

This year’s winners are Jeffrey Snedeker, Yingbin Ge, Lixing Sun, Carey Gazis, and Jennifer Green. The honorees’ names will appear on a continuing plaque on campus, and they each will receive a monetary award.

“These distinguished educators exemplify the dedication and talent of the faculty we’re so fortunate to have at Central Washington University,” Interim Provost Lynn Franken said. “Each brings a passion for teaching, research, and service, and we are proud to recognize their achievements.”

Meet the 2020 Distinguished Professors from CWU:

Distinguished Professor — Board of Trustees

• Jeffrey Snedeker, Music — Snedeker has excelled in teaching, research, and service during a 29-year career at CWU. His teaching philosophy is based on the concept of learning by doing, and he asks his students to perform, conduct research, and write at every opportunity. Nothing points to Snedeker’s influence more than his students’ list of accomplishments. His Horn Ensemble has been invited to multiple prestigious regional and national conferences to perform, while other students have been accepted into prestigious graduate music programs, and won concerto competitions. Many have gone on to become successful music educators across the Northwest.

Snedeker also has spent time on numerous music department committees, served as associate chair, and contributed to the NASM Accreditation Report. In addition, he has served on the CWU Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Chair of the Faculty Senate and Planning Committee, and is a major contributor to the CWU Performing Arts and Speaker Series. Outside the university, he has played with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra (YSO) since 1991, has coordinated outreach programs in schools around the Northwest, and has served on the YSO Board of Directors committee.

Distinguished Faculty for Teaching

• Yingbin Ge, Chemistry — Since joining the CWU chemistry faculty in 2008, Ge has earned the respect of his students and colleagues for his ability to teach physical chemistry in ways that are approachable, engaging, and highly effective for learning. Ge became an associate professor in 2014 and full professor in 2019, and has taught 18 different courses across all undergraduate levels and graduate levels, from introductory General Chemistry to graduate-level Quantum and Computational Chemistry. 

Students frequently comment on Ge’s prodigious knowledge and content brilliance, but also on his sense of humor, empathy, support for students, and timely feedback. Student success has always been a priority for Ge, who has mentored 31 undergraduate research students, served as chair for one distinguished thesis award-winning graduate student, and mentored 15 other graduate students. 

Distinguished Faculty for Research/Artistic Accomplishment

• Lixing Sun, Biological sciences — Sun is an internationally recognized leader in his field who has published 42 peer-reviewed articles, written three books, and delivered 52 papers at conferences around the world. He has been with CWU since 1996. He has pursued an interdisciplinary approach to research that has combined biology with various other fields, ranging from anthropology and economics to sociology and psychology. 

During the 2003-04 academic year, Sun served as interim associate dean of the College of the Sciences (COTS), during which time he co-founded the Environmental Studies Program and the Primate Behavior and Ecology Program. His exemplary work as a research scientist has been matched by his commitment to the classroom at CWU, where he has taught 18 undergraduate and graduate courses in the Biological Sciences department.

Distinguished Faculty for Service

• Carey Gazis, Geological science — For more than 20 years, Gazis has been a leader on campus, in the community and in the state on issues of general education, environment, energy and sustainability. She has been instrumental in shaping CWU’s general education requirements, and became involved with the Faculty Senate General Education Committee in 1999. 

Gazis has long been an advocate for bridging the gap between academic environmental studies and the community and has spent time educating K-12 students on the importance of environmental issues, especially water. In addition, she was a principal investigator for a National Science Foundation grant of more than $2 million to establish the Yakima WATERS program, which has reached hundreds of local students. 

Distinguished Faculty for Non-Tenure Teaching Track

• Jennifer Green, Communication — Green is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department and also teaches in the Douglas Honors College. During her 12 years at CWU, she has taught 11 different communications courses. She also serves as the faculty adviser to the digital journalism program and for PULSE, CWU’s award-winning, student-run online lifestyle magazine. Under her guidance, the magazine has won more than three dozen local, regional, and national college journalism awards, including the 2019 Associated College Press Pacemaker Award for Best Website.

Green currently is a candidate for a PhD in artistic, literary and cultural studies from The Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain, where she lived and worked for several years before coming to CWU in 2008. 

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,