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PALNI recognizes 10 faculty members with Open Educator Award

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) has named 10 faculty members as recipients of the PALSave Open Educator Award for the 2021-22 academic year. The award recognizes innovation and excellence in support of higher education, textbook affordability and student success. 

As part of the PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning Program, these individuals have been key players in the creation and adoption of Open Educational Resources, or OER—a move that reduces costs for students, improves access to required texts, and increases student success and retention. 

“This year’s Open Educator Award recipients have gone above and beyond to help advance student access, which is what OER is all about,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI’s Scholarly Communications Director and PALSave project lead. “With every single one of PALNI’s 24 supported institutions participating in PALSave, faculty are making a genuine impact on students’ ability to earn a degree. They have built a community of champions for affordable learning, and we’re excited to see their efforts benefit students now and well into the future.”

This year’s Open Educator Award honorees include:

Jonathan Craton, Anderson University

Jeana Jorgensen, Butler University

Nipun Chopra, DePauw University

Lori Watson, Earlham College

Arbin Thapaliya, Franklin College

Tim Brooks, Hanover College

Lori Rumreich, Marian University

Andrea Bearman, Trine University

Leah Milne, University of Indianapolis

Chelsie McCorkle, University of Saint Francis

Honoree Statements

Portrait of Jonathan CratonJonathan Craton
Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Anderson University

"I'm passionate about the use of Open Educational Resources inside and outside of the classroom. I believe that Open Educational Resources lower the cost of college for students, eliminate waste, and encourage student engagement and learning. High-quality education should be accessible to as many people as possible, and open resources help eliminate barriers for many learners."

Portrait of Jeana JorgensenDr. Jeana Jorgensen
Lecturer, History and Anthropology
Butler University

“Open pedagogy is important to me because I believe there should be as few barriers as possible between students and learning. Making information and texts more accessible helps eliminate those barriers, especially ones based on social class, ability or disability, and so on.”

Portrait of Nipun ChopraDr. Nipun Chopra
Assistant Professor of Biology
DePauw University

"As someone who himself struggled to buy textbooks as a student, I want to ensure that I help lower the exorbitant financial burden students face by offering open source texts in my elective courses. Last semester, I utilized such a resource for my BIO 390 (Brain and Diseases) course, and the students appreciated and learned from the online text. Thank you, PALNI!"

Portrait of Lori WatsonDr. Lori Watson
Professor of Chemistry
Earlham College

“Using Open Educational Resources where possible in my classes is one way I try to increase equitable education access—it’s important to me that all students have the same access to course materials. PALSave has given me the background and support to be able to do this effectively using best practices in open pedagogy.”

Portrait of Arbin ThapaliyaDr. Arbin Thapaliya
Associate Professor of Physics
Franklin College

“I am a huge proponent of Open Educational Resources. At Franklin College, the majority of our students receive some form of financial aid. I personally feel that students can utilize that aid for some of their other needs instead of paying for expensive textbooks. Making the learning experience as accessible and affordable as possible for our students is one of the most rewarding feelings for me, and PALSave has been very supportive not only to me, but all the faculty in my department to achieve that goal.”

Portrait of Tim BrooksTim Brooks
Instructor of Engineering
Hanover College

“Why do I use OER? The easy answer is to save students money. However, there is another reason. Using Open Education Resources, and open sources in general, teaches the students that lifelong learning is available to them after college. Engineering and technology invented the web. Engineering and technology, be it suppliers, associations, universities or others, have provided updated technical resources as they come available. It is a necessity to constantly search for advances in a field as one teaches it.”

Portrait of Lori RumreichLori Rumreich
Assistant Professor of Marketing
Marian University

“I've found that using no-cost textbooks expands access to learning, especially among the many students who struggle with textbook affordability. Selecting open educational resources removes that obstacle to student success.”

Portrait of Andrea BearmanAndrea Bearman
Director of Instructional Design and Development
Trine University 

“I use OER because I believe in the benefit for students; as one student said in a recent survey: ‘I have more money for instant ramen!’ And as faculty, we want content that meets the needs of our students, therefore we are the perfect people to create textbooks. My hope is to continue to inspire more faculty to consider using existing OER materials but also to encourage more faculty to develop their own content as well.”

Portrait of Dr. Leah MilneDr. Leah Milne
Associate Professor of Multicultural American Literature
University of Indianapolis

“Universities are and should be about furthering knowledge for everyone, and I believe pedagogy that provides access to as many students as possible is a vital part of doing so. When we teachers can openly collaborate with our students on creating knowledge, then we have a better chance of finding creative interpretations and solutions.”

McCorkle CChelsie McCorkle
Assistant Professor of English and Writing Center Director
University of Saint Francis

"Initially I was interested in OER because of my work with too many students who have had trouble affording my chosen textbooks in class. However, participating in PALSave has taught me that OER use enhances my own autonomy as an instructor as well. It also complements the outcomes of composition curricula—teaching students to think about knowledge as something continuously created and revised versus something received from a static text.”

About PALSave

Funded through grant support from Lilly Endowment, Inc., PALSave combats the rising costs of textbooks by supporting faculty adoption and creation of open and affordable course materials. 

Some of PALSave’s initiatives include:

  • Offering workshops and stipends that give educators the resources they need to transform courses using materials that are entirely free to students
  • Providing textbook creation grants
  • Offering publishing support, and more. 

Data consistently shows that textbook costs affect the academic decisions students make. According to the College Board, the average full-time, on-campus undergraduate at a four-year school was asked to budget $1,240 for books and supplies during the 2020-21 academic year. When students are unable to meet that financial obligation, they are forced to seek out insufficient alternatives or skip buying course material altogether. PALSave works to provide a proactive solution to these barriers by helping faculty adopt openly licensed and fully customizable OER into their courses.

After its third year, PALSave is on track to far exceed its initial goals. Highlights of its successes include:

  • $2.1 million total savings now projected from participation levels, which will exceed PALNI’s $1 million goal, and $852,351 cumulative savings to date 
  • 13,999 students impacted, saving on average $60.89 each
  • 98% of students reporting a positive or neutral impact on studies and grades with OER
  • 651 faculty reached with educational workshops 
  • 174 courses transformed to include OER  
  • 40% of redesigned courses indicating grade improvement 
  • 475% return on investment with course redesign funds 
  • $2.68 saved for every program dollar spent 
  • 100% of PALNI institutions participating in PALSave

For more information, visit the PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning Program website.


About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. More information can be found at

About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana

PALNI is a non-profit organization supporting collaboration for library and information services to the libraries of its twenty-four supported institutions. Over time, the library deans and directors who sit on the PALNI board have adjusted the organization’s strategic direction as the internet and information services landscape have changed. PALNI has expanded beyond providing a resource management system to sharing expertise in many areas including strategic planning, reference, information fluency, outreach, data management and configuration, and has identified greater collaboration in acquisitions as a key goal. Visit the PALNI website for more information.

PALNI Supported Institutions

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | Anderson University | Bethel University | Butler University | Concordia Theological Seminary | Christian Theological Seminary | DePauw University | Earlham College | Franklin College | Goshen College | Grace College | Hanover College | Huntington University | Manchester University | Marian University | Oakland City University | University of Saint Francis | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College | Saint Mary’s College | Saint Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology | Taylor University | Trine University | University of Indianapolis | Wabash College