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WCU presents top awards for 2011

Western Carolina University presented its top faculty and staff awards for teaching, research and service for the 2010-11 academic year Tuesday, April 12, at its annual spring Awards Convocation.

Chancellor John W. Bardo announced Aaron K. Ball, professor of engineering and technology, as the winner of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. Bardo also presented university awards to faculty including Alexander S. Macaulay Jr., associate professor and coordinator of the graduate program in history, recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award; Tracy Lynn Zontek, assistant professor of environmental health, recipient of the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty; and Christopher Cooper, director of the Public Policy Institute and associate professor of political science and public affairs, recipient of the University Scholar Award.

Staff awards honored William Frady, manager of instructional and student computing, recipient of the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff; Barbara L. Schade, administrative support specialist in the Office of the Dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions, recipient of the Star Staff Award; and Virginia L. “Jenny” Owen, executive assistant to the chief information officer, recipient of the Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award.

The Support Program of Excellence Award was bestowed on A.K. Hinds University Center.

Linda Seestedt-Stanford, interim provost, presented the Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award to John Floyd Whitmire, assistant professor of philosophy and religion; the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award to Gayle Maddox Wells, assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation and director of the graduate program in physical education; and the Jay M. Robinson eTeaching Award to Mary Teslow, assistant professor of health sciences and director of the Health Information Administration Program.

In addition, Seestedt-Stanford announced that Robert A. Holquist, professor of music, was selected to deliver the 2011 Last Lecture, and that Andrew Craig Denson, associate professor of history, and Malcolm “Mack” Reid Powell, professor of biology, were selected to participate in the Scholarly Development Assignment Program. Denson will finish a book on the study of historical commemoration, public memory and heritage tourism titled “Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and Southern Memory.” Powell will conduct research on a fungus named Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which has been implicated in global declines and extinctions of frogs and other amphibian species.

AWARDS PRESENTED BY CHANCELLOR JOHN W. BARDO

Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching

Aaron Ball

Aaron Ball

Aaron K. Ball, professor of engineering and technology, won the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“Dr. Ball returned from engineering design and production positions to pursue his graduate career,” said Bardo. “This real-world application to his field of engineering and technology enables him to constantly provide problem-solving examples to his students of how to visualize and apply the theory and calculations that he teaches. From assisting with design issues with Caterpillar, Inc., to hands-on experience with Snap-On Tools production and testing, to basic research with Oak Ridge National Lab and the U.S. Coast Guard, Dr. Ball has exposed his students to the real needs and applications that engineering has in our region.”

One of Ball’s students shared that in Ball’s classes, there is a sense of being part of something dynamic that promotes larger and open, out-of-the-box thinking and discussion, said Bardo.

Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award

Alexander Macaulay

Alexander Macaulay

Alexander S. Macaulay Jr., associate professor and coordinator of the graduate program in history, won the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

“Alex Macaulay’s teaching is, as one committee member put it, ‘nothing short of brilliant,’” said Bardo. “He not only clearly possesses rich and deep knowledge of the history he teaches, but he also demonstrates extraordinary commitment to and skill in engaging students in significant learning experiences. In Dr. Macaulay’s classes, history is not simply interesting. It genuinely matters – here and now – and later.”

Bardo quoted a student who said of Macaulay that he “really cares that all students understand how history lives and affects us every day, especially in a fast-changing, fast-paced world.”

Star Staff Award

Barbara Schade

Barbara Schade

Barbara L. Schade, administrative support specialist in the Office of the Dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions, was bestowed the Star Staff Award. Schade, the licensure specialist for the College of Education and Allied Professions, also ensures all graduating teacher candidates file the correct paperwork with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to be licensed to teach in the state of North Carolina. In addition, she handles the teacher candidate applications for entrance into the college teacher education programs and checks student records to ensure fully admitted teacher candidates maintain appropriate GPAs.

“She always takes time to talk with future students, current students, faculty or school systems to answer their questions,” said Bardo, quoting her nominator. “Many days, Barb will receive phone calls all day long with questions about licensure, yet she answers all questions in detail with the same positive attitude. She maintains her professional demeanor at all times and always has an encouraging word to future teachers no matter how busy she is.”

Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award

Jenny Owen

Jenny Owen

Virginia L. “Jenny” Owen, executive assistant in the office of the chief information officer, received the Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award.

“A loyal Catamount, Jenny’s Friday wardrobe is Catamount purple and her favorite time of the year occurs when the children of WCU employees in the Kneedler Center come to trick-or-treat in our office,” said Bardo, quoting her nomination. “Her cooperative spirit exists in her willingness to fill in for other staff in the office, and in her offers to drive others to meetings to that they will not have to hunt for parking places. Every morning, she personally greets every employee in the office and every afternoon, and she wishes each one a good evening. As her nominator states, ‘Those who worked with Judy Dowell knew that no matter how dark the day, Judy could smile and her smile with its spirit set a tone. Jenny Owen sets that tone for IT – a tone of hope, important work, professionalism and a belief that our university, nestled in this beautiful valley, provides each of us as employees a place to give and to grow.’”

Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff

William Frady

William Frady

William Frady, manager of instructional and student computing, won the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff. Frady provides oversight and leadership to Technology Commons, a one-stop IT service area for all WCU student computing needs, and manages the academic technology for all classrooms and computer labs.

“William has a service-minded approach to his work for the university,” said Bardo. “This is most evident in his work to bring the Technology Commons to completion. William was involved at every level in combining several IT service areas into a multifaceted service area committed to making life simpler for students. To bring the project to completion, William had to work across organizational boundaries as well as negotiate with external constituencies in providing specific equipment for areas within the commons.”

Bardo said Frady also provided dedicated leadership outside of his formal work responsibilities, including service as chair of the WCU Staff Senate for a second term, on the chancellor search committee and to the Cullowhee Volunteer Fire Department.

Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty

Tracy Zontek

Tracy Zontek

Tracy Lynn Zontek, assistant professor of health sciences, won the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty. Zontek is responsible for teaching, scholarship and service in the Environmental Health Program and has provided service in her field as an occupational health and safety consultant. In addition, Zontek maintains a rigorous research agenda that yields many refereed articles, presentations and grant activities, and has included her students in much of her work, said Bardo.

“Tracy’s nominators state, ‘Tracy Zontek exemplifies the actively engaged faculty member who views service to her students; department, college and program; discipline; and to the region as essential, integrated and connected,” said Bardo. “She uses environmental health as a platform to teach issues of citizenship, community engagement, personal awareness and global issues and still finds time to be engaged as a faculty member in universitywide initiatives and priorities.”

University Scholar Award

Chris Cooper (center), associate professor of political science and public affairs, and director of the Public Policy Institute, works with students as they write public policy articles to be published on Wikipedia.

Chris Cooper (center), associate professor of political science and public affairs and director of the Public Policy Institute, works with students as they write public policy articles to be published on Wikipedia.

Christopher Cooper, director of the Public Policy Institute and associate professor of political science and public affairs, was honored with the University Scholar Award.

“Dr. Cooper’s research focuses on state politics and policy, political communication, political psychology and Southern politics,” said Bardo. “He has 35 refereed journal articles and book chapters and an edited book on North Carolina politics. He has published more than 30 op-ed pieces in newspapers throughout the Southeastern United States. Dr. Cooper has been extremely active in the ‘scholarship of engagement,’ addressing many of the policy issues facing the state and region, including the changing boundaries of the American South, Appalachian identity, and land-use planning and zoning decisions.”

“In addition to these individual achievements, Dr. Cooper has had a positive effect on the larger scholarly community here at WCU,” said Bardo. “He mentors and publishes frequently with his students and has co-authored publications with many other faculty in the political science and public affairs department. He has also taken leadership roles in supporting scholarship at Western Carolina.”

Support Program of Excellence Award

Staff of A.K. Hinds University Center accept the Support Program of Excellence Award.

Staff of A.K. Hinds University Center accept the Support Program of Excellence Award.

The Support Program of Excellence Award was presented to the staff of A.K. Hinds University Center. The center’s programs include Base Camp Cullowhee, leadership programs, student programming and U.C. operations.

“The University Center is an exemplar of WCU’s commitment to collaboration, engaged learning and service to both the university community as well as the local community,” said Bardo. “Collaborative effort is at the center of everything the U.C. does, whether a large conference, a leadership class or a campuswide event on the U.C. lawn.”

Bardo also noted that the University Center has helped fund, support, plan and staff events with a Quality Enhancement Plan focus in collaboration with Division of Academic Affairs and Division of Student Affairs departments.

“The University Center also makes a direct impact on the surrounding community through service partnerships with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, REACH of Jackson County, The Community Table, the Children’s Miracle Network, and numerous local groups during alternative spring and fall breaks,” said Bardo. “The A. K. Hinds University Center has distinguished itself on many levels and is thus the recipient of this year’s Support Program of Excellence Award.”

AWARDS PRESENTED BY INTERIM PROVOST LINDA SEESTEDT-STANFORD

Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award

John Whitmire

John Whitmire

John Floyd Whitmire, assistant professor of philosophy and religion, is recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award.

“From in-class conversations about Tolkien to C.S. Lewis, Aristotle to Socrates, and beyond, he infuses a striking balance between engaging students in moral, ethical, civic and religious ideals and rigorous applications of scholarly learning,” said Seestedt-Stanford. “ His holistic vision for educating his students is grounded in his zealous belief that students can and do achieve the highest standards of learning – as long as they have faculty who believe in them and establish and reinforce clear expectations. He doggedly incorporates the outer world in his classes through service learning, which also fosters the development of transferable skills.”

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award

Gayle Wells

Gayle Wells

Gayle Maddox Wells, assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation and director of the graduate program in physical education, won the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award.

“The SoTL Award Committee was particularly impressed with the study by Gayle Wells, who examined the effectiveness of the Health Corps program she created,” said Seestedt-Stanford. “With Health Corps, undergraduate students work in teams on health lessons they deliver to elementary students in our region. Gayle has been encouraged by the study results and success of this teaching strategy to improve courses using Health Corps concepts and outcomes.”

Jay M. Robinson eTeaching Award

Mary Teslow, assistant professor of health sciences and director of the health information administration program, was awarded the Jay M. Robinson eTeaching Award.

Mary Teslow

Mary Teslow

“Having served as an e-Learning Faculty Fellow and an early-adopter of both WebCat and Blackboard, Mary has demonstrated her proficiency as a leader in online instruction at WCU,” said Seestedt-Stanford. “Mary’s courses are student-friendly, easy to navigate and use a variety of teaching tools to engage with her learners, as well as for her students to engage with each other. We thank Mary for her hard work and effort in balancing learner-friendliness with rigor in her online courses – courses that stand out in their distinction as the university’s best examples of quality online courses.”

LAST LECTURE AWARD

Robert Holquist

Robert Holquist

The Last Lecture Award recipient, who was selected by students and who is invited to give a “last lecture” during Homecoming, is Robert A. Holquist, professor of voice and director of choral activities. Holquist teaches applied voice, choral methods and conducting, and conducts the Concert Choir, University Chorus and Early Music Ensemble.

“Dr. Holquist has been a mentor and role model for students at WCU for decades,” said Seestedt-Stanford. “He describes the two favorite things in his life to be working with people and making music.”

“Several nominees mentioned that he does much more than teach,” said Seestedt-Stanford. “He even performs alongside his students. At last year’s Christmas concert in the Fine and Performing Arts Center, the audience became silent as he took his place in line to sing with his students, who were dressed in Elizabethan costumes. ‘I feel it’s a sign of respect,’ one student said. ‘When someone is just standing in front of you, telling you what to do, it can be intimidating. But if that person who has so much more experience than you thinks you are good enough to sing with, that’s pretty awesome.’”

Other Awards

Office of the Provost

Provost’s Instructional Improvement Grants-Lisa Arlene Bloom, Sharon F. Dole

Microgrant Recipients – Marsha Lee Baker, Debasish Banerjee, Carroll Anne Brown, Michael W. Hubble, Beth Huber, Nathan A. Kreuter, Lori Eilleen Unruh, John Allan Williams, Jayne Elizabeth Zanglein, Alessia Rosanna Zanin-Yost

College of Business

Board of Governors’ Creative and Innovative Teaching Award – Inhyuck “Steve” Ha

College of Education and Allied Professions

Botner Superior Teaching Award – Benedict F. Tholkes

Board of Governors’ Awards for Superior Teaching – Candace H. Boan-Lenzo, Casey J. Hurley, Nancy C. Luke, Marissa S. Ray

Dean’s Research Award – Russell Clay Curtis

Exemplary Service Award – Phyllis Kathleen Robertson

College of Fine and Performing Arts

James Dooley Excellence in Music Teaching Award – Shannon Thompson

Graduate School and Research

Faculty Research Grant Recipients – Mary Elizabeth Byrnes, Mawanana Channa H. De Silva, Mary Anna LaFratta, Martin L. Tanaka

Hunter Scholar Award – Todd A. Collins

College of Health and Human Sciences

Faculty Student Engagement Award – Brian D. Byrd

Faculty/Staff Leadership Award – Margaret L. “Peg” Connolly

Faculty Service Award – Ashley Sweeney Long

Faculty Scholar Award – Josephine “Josie” Crolley-Simic

Honors College

Recognition of Distinction in Instruction and Nurturing – James “Jay” Scifers

Compiled by Teresa Killian Tate

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