Western Carolina University presented its top faculty and staff awards for teaching, research and service for the 2011-12 academic year Friday, April 27, at its annual spring Awards Convocation.
Chancellor David O. Belcher announced Lisa Briggs, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, as the winner of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. Belcher also presented university awards to faculty including Wes Stone, associate professor of engineering and technology, recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award; Phyllis Robertson, associate professor of human services, recipient of the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty; and Robert F. Mulligan, professor of economics and head of the accounting, finance, information systems and economics department, recipient of the University Scholar Award.
Staff awards honored Andy DeGrove, mechanical designer and project manager with the facilities planning, design and construction team, recipient of the Star Staff Award; Shirley Beck, a library assistant in Hunter Library’s Curriculum Materials Center, recipient of the Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award; and Beth Tyson Lofquist, interim provost, recipient of the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff.
The Academic Program of Excellence Award was bestowed on the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources.
Lofquist presented the Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award to Jennifer Slama Schiff, assistant professor of political science and public affairs; the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award to April C. Tallant, assistant professor in the nutrition and dietetics program; and the Jay M. Robinson eTeaching Award to Meagan R. Karvonen, associate professor of psychology.
In addition, Lofquist announced that David Dorondo, associate professor of history, was selected to deliver the 2012 Last Lecture, and that four faculty members were chosen to participate in the Scholarly Development Assignment Program. James T. Costa, professor of biology and director of Highlands Biological Station, will spend the next year as a fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study conducting research for a book about Charles Darwin’s original experiments and how they can be used to enhance education today. Sloan Evans Despeaux, associate professor of mathematics, will spend the fall semester conducting research for two international project groups on the history of mathematics. Inhyuck “Steve” Ha, associate professor of economics and director of WCU’s master’s degree program in business administration, will spend the spring semester working with a colleague at the University of Minnesota on a book for Oxford University Press centered on racial and ethnic economic inequality in the areas of higher education, public procurement and contracting, child neglect and mortgage lending. Laura Lynn Wright, associate professor of English and director of graduate studies in English, will complete editorial work for the Modern Language Association’s volume on approaches to teaching J. M. Coetzee, South African author and Nobel laureate; complete a monograph titled “The Vegan Body Project,” which analyzes popular and literary representations of people who are vegan; and serve as a visiting scholar for part of the fall semester at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.
AWARDS PRESENTED BY CHANCELLOR DAVID O. BELCHER
Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching
Lisa Briggs, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, won the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Briggs helps her students develop not only a firm knowledge foundation but also a strong sense of the difference they can make in strengthening the justice and fairness that fellow citizens experience, said Belcher, quoting Stephen Brown, professor and head of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Recent projects her students have been involved with include researching cold homicide cases on behalf of victims’ families, educational and preventive activities to reduce the risk of date rape and equipping facilities to serve victims of domestic violence, he said.
“One of her former students, Regina Cline, states, ‘Dr. Lisa Briggs is not only my personal role model, she is like a mother to me. She has supported me in all of my endeavors and she has created and provided countless opportunities for me to grow as an intellectual and as an individual,’” said Belcher.
Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Wes Stone, associate professor of engineering and technology, won the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Stone’s confident, comfortable and professional demeanor in the classroom creates an authentic culture of active and interactive learning, and his courses are innovative and purposeful, said Belcher. He helps students learn complex math and engineering technology concepts while demonstrating their real-world application. He also introduces topics that cross over from course to course and includes interdisciplinary lessons such as the study of ethics, oral and written communications, detailed mathematical solutions, and local industry applied-learning projects.
“Dr. Stone is noted for taking genuine, personal interest in his students and their experience at WCU, and the selection committee agreed that all professors should ‘just steal Dr. Stone’s assignment called Homework #0’ – the very first homework assignment for each class in which each student comes to his office individually to talk for a few minutes about anything except the course,” said Belcher. “Dr. Stone makes a true educational difference because he respects and takes seriously each student as whole person.”
Star Staff Award
Andy DeGrove, mechanical designer and project manager with the facilities planning, design and construction team, accepted the Star Staff Award.
Belcher said DeGrove’s colleagues describe him as a team player who gives his all to his job responsibilities and that his positive attitude and outlook are reflected in the way he manages projects and encourages others to meet or exceed their potential. DeGrove willingly gives of his time beyond regular working hours without being asked, including meeting during the Christmas break with site contractors working on the recent renovation of a heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system in the H.F. Robinson Building. In addition, he constantly works to promote sustainability and reduce waste on campus and takes on challenges with a desire to resolve things in ways that benefit the university now and in the future, said Belcher.
“Andy continues to seek to leave this campus in better shape than when he found it over 25 years ago,” said Belcher, quoting one of DeGrove’s nominators.
Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award
Shirley Beck, a library assistant in Hunter Library’s Curriculum Materials Center, received the Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award.
Beck’s colleagues describe her as someone who goes out of her way to help others, who creates a true growth opportunity for the student workers she trains and supervises, and who makes sure staff, faculty, students and community members leave the department with everything they need, said Belcher.
“Shirley loves her job and it shows. She is always the first to volunteer to help others – personally or on the job. She is willing to do any task to the best of her ability for the betterment of the library and the university,” said Belcher, quoting one of Beck’s nominators.
Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff
Beth Tyson Lofquist, interim provost, won the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff.
As WCU’s second officer-in-charge, Lofquist is responsible for the academic curriculum of more than 120 majors offered at WCU. She serves as a member of the university’s senior leadership team and administers all faculty tenure, promotion and reappointment processes. Her experience at WCU began as a student, and she went on to serve the university for more than 27 years as a faculty member and administrator. During her tenure at WCU, she has been a principal investigator or involved in a variety of grant applications with colleagues and members of the community. She also has offered her expertise to create statewide training for teacher mentors, public school administrators and student teachers. Today she continues, in all she does, to improve efficiency and effectiveness with an eye toward enhancing significant student learning, Belcher said.
“Beth’s many accomplishments reflect her love of WCU, its people and the region,” he said.
Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty
Phyllis Robertson, associate professor of human services, won the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty.
Robertson, a faculty member in the counseling program, has worked tirelessly with students at WCU as well as with local schools and the community to provide needed training and services, said Belcher. She volunteers to teach extra sections of classes and summer sessions, has nine different courses and is known for her high expectations of students. As a scholar, she has authored numerous book chapters and made national presentations. She has coordinated conferences and workshops for WCU and the region. In addition, she is part of efforts to increase awareness of gang violence in the area and to promote WCU in the community.
Her nominator said the WCU counseling program “thrives because of her incredible drive and rich connections to WCU and the Western North Carolina region,” said Belcher. “Phyllis exemplifies the actively engaged faculty member who views service to her students, colleagues, discipline and the region as essential, integrated and connected.”
University Scholar Award
Robert F. Mulligan, professor of economics and head of the accounting, finance, information systems and economics department, was honored with the University Scholar Award.
Mulligan mentors student and faculty research and personally publishes and presents his scholarly work in areas of business, specifically business cycles, constitutional political economy and fractal analysis. He has presented and collaborated with institutions including Cambridge, Kiel Institute of World Economics, the American Institute for Economic Research, and the Norwegian School of Management. His recent publications include “Panama Canal Expansion: Alleviating Global Climate Change,” published in the World Maritime University Journal of Maritime Affairs; “Monetary Policy Regimes in Macroeconomic Data: an Application of Fractal Analysis,” published in Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance; and “An Austrian Rehabilitation of the Phillips Curve,” published in the Cato Journal.
“Dr. Mulligan is a model researcher and an exemplary leader, most deserving of the 2012 University Scholar Award,” said Belcher.
Academic Program of Excellence Award
The Academic Program of Excellence Award was presented to the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources.
The department promotes, funds and develops active learning opportunities such as apprenticeships and field trips that stress field skills, field experience and professional development opportunities, said Belcher. Also, students routinely present professional papers and presentations on their research as a result of faculty-created and faculty-directed projects. In addition, the department serves the region with grants and projects that extend into Great Smoky Mountains National Park and initiatives that have supported more than 200 landowners in WNC. The department’s faculty has been awarded about $2 million in external funding since 2006 that often directly funds student learning initiatives.
“Hands-on learning and outdoor field trips build lifelong learners by demonstrating that learning is not only relevant but is also fun and engaging,” said Belcher.
AWARDS PRESENTED BY INTERIM PROVOST BETH TYSON-LOFQUIST
Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award
Jennifer Slama Schiff, assistant professor of political science and public affairs, is recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award.
Schiff offers highly engaged, creative and reflective experiences for her students, in and outside of her classroom, including preparing them to participate in the Model United Nations event in Atlanta, said Lofquist.
“She is able to successfully marry theoretical and practical aspects of political science and current events in her teaching, which allows her students to apply their knowledge beyond the boundaries of her classroom and, indeed, their college lives,” said Lofquist.
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award
April C. Tallant, assistant professor in the nutrition and dietetics program, won the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award.
Tallant was selected from four finalists whose implemented studies resulted in published studies that count as research artifacts as well as improve their teaching and improve their students’ learning.
“The SoTL Award Committee was impressed with April Tallant’s study comparing traditional and service project-based methods, such as volunteering at the Community Table and conducting a fundraiser called Band Together to Fight Hunger, to help students understand food insecurity,” said Lofquist.
Jay M. Robinson eTeaching Award
Meagan R. Karvonen, associate professor of psychology, was awarded the Jay M. Robinson eTeaching Award.
Karvonen created a highly engaged and inclusive classroom community and particularly excelled in developing sequential research assignments for graduate students designed to build skills as well as confidence, said Lofquist.
“Overall, she showed a keen sense of how to keep students focused, motivated and challenged in an online environment and clearly exemplifies excellence in on-line teaching and learning,” said Lofquist.
LAST LECTURE AWARD
The Last Lecture Award recipient, who was selected by students and who is invited to give a “last lecture” during Homecoming, is David Dorondo, associate professor of history.
One student said Dorondo, who has been teaching at WCU for close to 26 years, has the ability to make a subject that is difficult to understand fun and “easier to swallow.” Another said his passion for the subject is clear and conveyed to students. Yet another described him as a “walking encyclopedia.”
“‘From the very first class that I had with Dr. Dorondo, I was impressed with his knowledge of the subject. As a result of his teaching, I was forced to re-evaluate what I wanted to study as a student of history,’” said Lofquist, quoting a student.
Office of the Provost
Microgrant Recipients – Risto Atanasov, Andrew Ryan Dalton, Amy Crandall Dowling, Dottie Saxon Greene, Jeffrey K. Lawson, Phyllis Robertson, Evelyn Squires Wilson
College of Arts and Sciences
Board of Governors’ Teaching Award – Carmen L. Huffman
College of Business
Board of Governors’ Creative and Innovative Teaching Award – Grace C. Allen, Robert J. Lahm, Dolores Lorrie Willey
Excellence in Research Award – Vittal Anantatmula, Jayne Elizabeth Zanglein
Graduate Teaching Award – Paul Douglas Johnson
Professor of Excellence – Danial L. Clapper
College of Education and Allied Professions
Board of Governors’ Awards for Superior Teaching – Valerie Leigh Mazzotti, Ellen Sigler
Botner Superior Teaching Award – Russell Clay Curtis
Dean’s Research Award – Thomas Edward Hodges
Exemplary Service Award – Douglas Steve McClure
Soaring High Award – Russell Binkley
College of Fine and Performing Arts
Board of Governors’ Teaching Award – Amy Kristine Cherry
Graduate School and Research
Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award – Ronald W. Davis, Michael Van Dyke, Diane Marie Styers
Hunter Scholar Award – Mae Miller Claxton
College of Health and Human Sciences
Board of Governors Innovative Teaching Award – Brian David Byrd, Burton Ray Ogle
Faculty Student Engagement Award – Jennifer Lyn Hinton
Faculty/Staff Leadership Award – Judy Lynn Neubrander
Faculty Service Award – Rebecca Lasher
Faculty Scholar Award – Jamie Crystal Vaske
Recognition of Distinction in Instruction and Nurturing – Pamela Yvonne Duncan, Michelle L. Scifers, Karyn Tomczak, Blair Ryan Tormey
Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology
Board of Governors Distinguished Teaching Award – Yeqin Huang
Distinguished Research and Scholarly Engagement Award – Weiguo “Bill” Yang
Distinguished Student Engagement Award – George David Ford
Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising – Chip W. Ferguson
Outstanding Early-Career Faculty Award – Martin L. Tanaka
WCU also honored 27 retirees who represent 544 years and eight months of service to WCU.
Retiring faculty and administrative staff are Elizabeth Addison, Ruth Bennett, Louis Buck, Scott Higgins, Fred Hinson, Shan Manickam and Jane Perlmutter. David Coffee will be entering phased retirement. Retiring staff include John Austin, Shirley Bateman, William Carter, Rena Childers, Norma Cowan, Billy Dills, Michael Guffey, Dianne Harris, Edria Heffner, Marilynn Kaufman, Billy Metcalf, Kay Moore, Janie Prentice, Linda Price, Delonda Roberts, Janet Sanders, Charles Shuler, Mike Speissegger and Hilda Wilson.
Compiled by Teresa Killian Tate