Top Stories

Awards nominees, finalists recognized at convocation

Dozens of Western Carolina University faculty and staff members were nominated for awards bestowed at the annual Spring Awards Convocation held Friday, April 16. The list of nominees or finalists and the name of the winner are below. The list of winners for division- and college-level awards also highlighted at convocation follows.

Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching – This award was established in 1994 by the UNC Board of Governors to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching across the university system.  The annual award at each of the 16 campuses includes a $7,500 cash prize and a bronze medallion.

Finalists: Aaron K. Ball, H. Gibbs Knotts, Matthew H. Liddle

Recipient: H. Gibbs Knotts

Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award – This award encourages, recognizes and rewards superior teaching and meritorious performance, and includes a $2,000 cash prize.

Finalists: Ted Coyle, C. Don Livingston, Jill Manners, Wesley Stone, Elizabeth “Libby” G. McRae

Recipient: Elizabeth “Libby” G. McRae

Star Staff Award – This award recognizes a nonfaculty employee who has demonstrated consistent, exceptional service and has helped energize and enhance staff spirit and morale, and includes a $1,000 cash prize.

Nominees: Melissa Allen,“Regina” Grace Aton, Brittania Bintz, Dawne Coward, William “Kent” Davis, Patsy Lou “Pat” Deitz, Amy DeLorm, Linda Donaldson, Opal L. Douglas, Peggy L. Eidson, Vicki A. Fisher, Sheila K. Frizzell, Melissa S. Johnson, Richard “Rich” L. Kucharski, Eric J. Margiotta, Steve D. McClure, Amy L. McKenzie, Wilma C. Nations, Shauna M. Sage, Barbara L. Schade, Brenda B. Setzer

Recipient: Amy L. McKenzie

Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award – This annual award recognizes outstanding service by a member of the university’s support staff, and comes with a $1,000 cash prize.

Nominees: Lili M. Acheson, Shirley Beck, Dawne Coward, Rosemarie “Rosie” Greenwood, Brenda Holcombe, Alison Joseph, Marilynn Breen Kaufman, Patrick Brian McGraw, Sandra Oldham, Sharon P. Painter, Brenda Setzer, Martha Tolley, Donna Watson, Debbie West, Cindy Williams, Steven G. Wilson, Melissa Young

Recipient: Rosemarie “Rosie” Greenwood

Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award (Administrative Staff) – This award recognizes the quality of service contributed to the general welfare of WCU and how the contributions enhance WCU’s reputation as a regional comprehensive institution of higher education, and comes with a $1,000 cash prize.

Nominees: Richard “Rich” L. Kucharski, Amy L. McKenzie, Shauna M. Sage, Beth Tyson-Lofquist, George W. “Chuck” Wooten

Recipient: Richard “Rich” L. Kucharski

Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award (Faculty) –  This award recognizes the quality of service contributed to the general welfare of WCU and how the contributions enhance WCU’s reputation as a regional comprehensive institution of higher education, and comes with a $1,000 cash prize.

Nominees: C. Dale Carpenter, David Claxton, Linda Comer, Christopher Cooper, Alessia R. Zanin-Yost

Recipient: C. Dale Carpenter

University Scholar Award – This award recognizes the research and creative activities of the faculty, and includes a $1,000 cash prize.

Nominees: H. Gibbs Knotts, Robert F. Mulligan, Laura Lynn Wright

Recipient: H. Gibbs Knotts

Integration of Learning Award – This award recognizes formal collaborative efforts between faculty members and the Division of Student Affairs to enhance learning, and comes with a $2,000 cash prize.


  • Applied Leadership Projects – John Sherlock, associate professor for human resources and leadership; Marie-Line Germain, assistant professor for human resources and leadership; Michael Corelli, associate director for leadership programs; Steve Dutton, assistant director for leadership programs
  • Peer-to-Peer Multimedia Training Program in Collaboration with Cherokee Language – Katherine Smith, WCU assistant director for student media and marketing; Hartwell Sweeney Francis, director of the WCU Cherokee language program
  • Rape Aggression Awareness and Defense for Women and Men: A Comprehensive Approach for the Campus – Gayle M. Wells, assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation; Karrie Joseph, wellness coordinator for Campus Recreation and Wellness
  • Wellness and Leisure Time: An Experiential Approach to Accomplish the QEP Student Learning Outcomes – Josh Whitmore, assistant director for outdoor programs; William J. Papin, visiting instructor of health, physical education and recreation; Robert Crow, instructional developer with Coulter Faculty Center

Recipient: Wellness and Leisure Time: An Experiential Approach to Accomplish the QEP Student Learning Outcomes

Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award – This award recognizes a faculty member for excellence in promoting significant student learning in liberal studies courses and comes with a $1,500 cash prize.

Finalists: Sloan Evans Despeaux, Winford A. Gordon, Glenda G. Hensley

Recipient: Sloan Evans Despeaux

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award – This award encourages and recognizes a faculty member engaging in scholarship that focuses upon teaching and learning and then applying the results of that scholarship to courses taught.

Finalists: Debra D. Burke, John James Sherlock, Barbara L. St. John

Recipient: Debra D. Burke

Jay M. Robinson eTeaching Award – This award honors a WCU online teacher who represents the best that the university offers and comes with a $1,000 cash prize.

Finalists: Christopher Grant Blake, Frederick C. Buskey, Linda Comer, Claire DeCristofaro, Kathleen Topolka Jorissen, Lucian Szlizewski, Delores “Lorrie” Willey, Stephen C. Wohlrab

Recipient: Claire DeCristofaro

Scholarly Development Assignment Program – This program allows faculty a period of leave to pursue concentrated scholarly work.

Recipients: Paul Andrew Heckert, Elizabeth “Libby” McRae, Eleanor Blair Hilty

Last Lecture Award – This award recognizes a faculty member who inspires students with passion and enthusiasm in his or her teaching, and the honoree presents a public lecture in the fall.

Nominees: Theodore “Ted” P. Chiappelli, Margaret “Peg” L. Connolly, Cynthia Caravelis Hughes, Brian L. Lawrence,Heather Laine Talley

Recipient: Theodore “Ted” P. Chiappelli

Academic Program of Excellence Award – This award recognizes an academic unit’s achievement of excellence, and carries with it a cash prize of $10,000.

Nominees: Biology, Business Administration and Law and Sport Management, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Geosciences and Natural Resources, Mathematics and Computer Science

Recipient: Communication Sciences and Disorders

Other recognitions and awards noted at convocation include:

Retiring Faculty and Administrative Staff

Millicent Abel, Patricia Bailey, Patricia Brown, Mary Deck, Marilyn Feldman, Debra Higdon, James Kirk, John F. LeBaron, Irene Mueller, Mary Anne Nixon, Elizabeth Robinson, Ralph Willis, Steven Yurkovich

Faculty Entering Phased Retirement, 2010-2011

Stephen Jarrell

Retiring Staff

Kathy Brashear, Frankie Burrell, Allie Carter, James R. Clayton, Dianne Cochran, Faye Deitz, Marlene Dills, Steve Flury, Thelma Gates, Carroll Gregory, Janie Kirkland, Anne Lauder, Norcella Massingale, Bessie Mathis, Etta McCall, Richard L. Moore, Hildegard Morgan, Karen Nicholson, Doris Pawlowski, Ellen E. Robinson, Dennis Rogers, Gloria Rogers, James R. Rogers, W. Douglas Smith, Roger Tate, Gregory West, Ray Wike, Robert Wikle


Provost’s Instructional Improvement Grants

Mary Kay Bauer, Travis Bennett, Daniel E. Cherry, Hartwell Sweeney Francis, Daniel R. Gonko, Ian MacDonald Jeffress, William Ernest Lehman, L. Alvin Malesky Jr., William Robert Martin, Masafumi Takeda, Cheryl Waters-Tormey, John Allan Williams, Stephen C. Wohlrab

Microgrant Recipients

Kia Karin Terese Asberg, Leonardo “Leo” Bobadilla, William Hunt Boulware, Andrew Craig Denson, Sloan Evans Despeaux, Sharon F. Dole, Amy Crandall Dowling, John E. Duncan, Mary Ella Engel, David D. Evanoff, Dorothy Saxon Green, Cynthia Caravelis Hughes, Cheryl Ann Johnston, Trevor M. Jones, Hollye K. Moss, Karyn Tomczak, Blair Ryan Tormey, James H. Ullmer, John C. Wagaman, John Allan Williams, Alessia R. Zanin-Yost


Board of Governors’ – College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Award

H. Gibbs Knotts

Arts and Sciences Teaching Award

Laura Lynn Wright


Board of Governors’ – Creative and Innovative Teaching Award

Robert F. Mulligan


Botner Superior Teaching Award

Maurice L. Phipps

Board of Governors’ Awards for Superior Teaching

Russell Binkley, Frederick C. Buskey, Winford A. Gordon, John James Sherlock

Dean’s Research Award

L. Alvin Malesky Jr., David Strahan

Exemplary Service Award

Laura Hoxit Phillips

Soaring High Award

Patricia Lynn Bricker


James Dooley Excellence in Music Teaching Award

Jason W. Solomon


Faculty Research Grant Recipients

Leonardo “Leo” Bobadilla, Christopher “Chris” T. Coburn, Mario A. Gaetano, David Andrew Kinner, Weiguo “Bill” Yang

Hunter Scholar Award

Annette Debo


Board of Governors’ Innovative Teaching Award

Kimberly C. Crawford

Faculty Student Engagement Award

Tracy L. Zontek

Faculty/Staff Leadership Award

Lisa J. Lefler

Faculty Service Award

Mary Spivey Teslow


Recognition of Distinction in Instruction and Nurturing

Inhyuck “Steve” Ha, Richard D. Starnes, Tracy L. Zontek


Distinguished Research and Scholarly Engagement Award

Ronald R. Mau

Board of Governors’ Distinguished Teaching Award

William L. McDaniel II

Distinguished Student Engagement Award

Robert Anderson

Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising

George D. Ford

Outstanding Early Career Faculty Award

Weiguo “Bill” Yang

The George Reeser Outstanding Faculty Award

James Zhiming Zhang

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


Africa! More Than A Continent