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Faculty and staff honored at awards event

Western Carolina University celebrated some of the standout contributions employees made during the 2012-13 academic year on Friday, April 19, at the annual spring Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards event.

Universitywide teaching awards presented at the event highlighted achievements of Chris Cooper, associate professor and head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, recipient of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching; and Hollye Moss, associate professor and interim head of the Department of Global Management and Strategy, recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Service awards honored Josh Whitmore, associate director of Base Camp Cullowhee/Outdoor Programs, recipient of the Star Staff Award; Steve Leamon, electrician in residential living, recipient of the Bright Idea Staff Award; Dawne Coward, executive assistant in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, recipient of the Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award; Dianne Lynch, chief of staff, recipient of the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff; and Rob Young, professor of geosciences and natural resources and director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, recipient of the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty.

Other teaching and scholarship honors included the University Scholar Award to P. Bradley Ulrich, professor of trumpet; the Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award to Jeanne Dulworth, assistant professor of social work; the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award to Beth Huber, assistant professor of English; and Jay M. Robinson e-Teaching Award to L. Alvin Malesky Jr., associate professor of psychology.

In other honors, the Support Program of Excellence Award was bestowed on the Division of Information Technology’s Help Desk. Students selected Burton Ogle to deliver the 2013 Last Lecture. Four faculty members – Patricia L. Bricker, Catherine W. Carter, Peter Paul Nieckarz and Cheryl Waters-Tormey – were chosen to participate in the Scholarly Development Assignment Program.

Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching

Christopher Cooper

Christopher Cooper

Chris Cooper is the recipient of this year’s Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching.  Belcher said Cooper pushes the pedagogical envelope, from involving his students in a WikiMedia Project to co-teaching an elections class with a colleague at Eastern Michigan University.

“Students consistently cite these innovations as enduring parts of his classes,” said Belcher. His students also say that he helps them feel that they have made a lasting contribution, that he helps them learn to critically evaluate information and that he challenges them to think.

“His classes are dynamic, changing as needs and issues arise in order to better prepare his students for a changing world,” said Belcher.

Lou Bissette, Board of Governors member and former WCU Board of Trustees member, will present this award to Cooper at the spring commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 11.

Hollye Moss

Hollye Moss

Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award

Hollye Moss, associate professor and interim head of the Department of Global Management and Strategy, received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Belcher said Moss has been described as brilliant and enthusiastic as well as the “perfect blend between education and rigor.” Her teaching style is built on the value of a positive learning environment and the mutual respect it invokes and the need to make learning relevant and practical, said Belcher.

“Students often state that the feared and challenging subject of statistics becomes fun when Dr. Moss is the instructor,” he said. “She is clearly successful in meeting the needs of a diverse group of learners and creating a classroom environment that is both comfortable and interesting.  And she has inspired colleagues to revisit their definition of engagement and how to instill a new level of wonderment in students.”

Star Staff Award

Josh Whitmore, associate director of Base Camp Cullowhee/Outdoor Programs, was bestowed the Star Staff Award, which honors a permanent SPA or EPA non-faculty employee who has demonstrated consistent, exceptional service and has helped energize and enhance staff spirit and morale.

Josh Whitmore

Josh Whitmore (facing camera)

Whitmore’s achievements include his leadership of a an effort over a number of years to plan, secure funding for and build a multi-use trail system that recently opened on WCU’s campus.

“His willingness to go above and beyond expectations has resulted in the development of the new trail system,” said Belcher. “The trail system will contribute to education as an outdoor classroom for many majors; to an easy back-door access to nature; to the health and wellness of those who walk or bicycle there; to the value our neighbors receive from their local campus; and to the recruitment and retention of those who are drawn to Cullowhee for its outdoor resources.”

“Josh’s insight, dedication and hard work mean that we will all have a place to enjoy our beautiful campus,” Belcher said.

Steve Leamon

Steve Leamon

Bright Idea Staff Award

Steve Leamon, an electrician in Residential Living, received the Bright Idea Staff Award, which honors a permanent non-faculty employee who has suggested an idea, procedure or program that has resulted in improved operations.

Challenged with identifying opportunities to save the university money while reducing its carbon footprint, Leamon recently implemented light replacement projects involving replacing T-12 ballasts in the residence halls with T-8 ballasts. The T-8 ballasts cost more but have a longer life span and save more energy.

He also is replacing hallway lights and public area lights in The Village. The new lights use less energy, and new lights in the back stairwells dim to 15 percent when the stairwells are empty, said Belcher.

In addition, Leamon has worked to refurbish the restroom fans in Norton Residence Hall, a project that has led to fewer false fire alarms and fewer mold issues.

“Thank you, Steve, for working so diligently to reduce Western Carolina’s carbon footprint,” said Belcher.

 The Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award

Dawne Coward, executive assistant in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, was honored with the Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award.

Dawne Coward

Dawne Coward

Coward has served WCU for 21 years and has a reputation for being dependable, efficient and unfailingly punctual. In addition, she was a founder of the Staff Forum, which is now the Staff Senate.

“Even in the midst of difficult times, Dawne maintains a smile and a positive outlook, giving help where needed and often doing more without being asked,” said Belcher.

“Dawne isn’t a flashy worker who seeks admiration and praise. She simply does her job and does it very well,” he said. “On a daily basis, Dawne exhibits dedication, caring and advocacy to others and to the workplace. Dawne’s attitude is that everyone, pulling together, can make the university a better place to work and a better place for students to get a true education.”

Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff

Dianne Lynch, chief of staff with the Office of the Chancellor, received the Paul A. Reid Award for Administrative Staff.

Chancellor David O. Belcher presents Dianne Lynch, chief of staff, with the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff.

Chancellor David O. Belcher presents Dianne Lynch, chief of staff, with the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff.

Belcher commended Lynch, who will be retiring from WCU in the coming months, for spending her career as a passionate advocate for education in the Jackson County schools system and in higher education at WCU and acting as a champion and leader for the Western North Carolina region.

“As chief of staff, Dianne has brought a laser-like focus and intensity to her position while simultaneously exuding versatility and quiet competence,” said Belcher. “Dianne has a true gift for analyzing a problem, sorting through the weeds to find the root cause and crafting a solution.”

Belcher said she serves as an inspiring role model for women in leadership in education.

“Dianne leaves a remarkable legacy at Western Carolina University, and we owe her our gratitude for her extraordinary contributions,” said Belcher.

Rob Young

Rob Young

Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty

Rob Young, professor of geosciences and natural resources and director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, received the Paul A. Reid Service Award for Faculty.

Young leads one of the nation’s most important Native American education programs in Washington State as well as the WCU River Cane Restoration project jointly with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In addition, he devotes significant time to providing technical consultation to local, state and federal government and is one of the country’s leading communicators on the science of global climate change, sea level rise and coastal adaptation, said Belcher.

“Rob deserves recognition for his sustained and singular accomplishments in innovative approaches to engaging Native American youth in the sciences; playing a leading role in preservation of the environmental and cultural heritage of our coasts at state, national and international levels; and for his concerted efforts to communicate science to the general public,” said Belcher.

Bradley Ulrich

Bradley Ulrich

University Scholar Award

Brad Ulrich, professor in the School of Music, received the University Scholar Award. Performance, a musician’s primary scholarly activity, is considered the equivalent to publication in more traditional academic disciplines.

Ulrich’s career at WCU as a performer, scholar and teacher of trumpet has spanned 24 years. He has had 20 scholarly articles published and has performed regionally, nationally and internationally at some of the world’s most prestigious conservatories.

He also serves as artistic director of the annual International Trumpet Festival of Russia and as executive director of the Trumpet Festival of the Southeast, now an internationally known event which originated at WCU.

“Dr. Ulrich is considered not only one of the finest performers in the School of Music but holds an international reputation among musicians,” said Belcher.

Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies

Jeanne Dulworth, assistant professor of social work, received the Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award.

Jeanne Dulworth

Jeanne Dulworth

To get to know her students better, Dulworth holds weekly study sessions and informal Friday lunches with them. She plans activities for her students ranging from a letter-writing campaign on a social policy issue to an “Oprah Day” exercise in which students envision an agency or policy they would create with grant funding from Oprah to alleviate a social problem.

“Her innovative activities, drawing on her background and ongoing practice as a social worker, have contributed to impressive improvements, not only in students’ critical thinking, verbal and written communication skills, but also in civic engagement – helping them to find their own voice on a social problem of importance to them,” said Belcher.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Beth Huber, assistant professor of English, is recipient of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award.

Beth Huber

Beth Huber

Huber redesigned her English 202 course to address three factors that contribute to low-effort thinking: the presence of a cognitive load, time constraints and direct instruction to use low-effort thinking. She created assignments that reduced students’ in-class time constraints and cognitive load and introduced a research essay.

“Through these modifications, she found that providing students with a week or more of reflection for in-class writing improved the critical depth and content of assignments,” said Belcher. “She also found that incorporating a longer essay assignment had positive impacts on writing quality.”

“This is a great example of real assessment in action,” he said.

Jay M. Robinson e-Teaching

Alvin Malesky, associate professor of psychology, received the Jay M. Robinson e-Teaching Award.

Alvin Malesky

Alvin Malesky

In Malesky’s forensic psychology course, he enhances his online instruction by adding video presence that creates a face-to-face experience. In addition, he incorporates materials including discussion boards, wikis and blogs as students explore the diversity of opinions.

“As a graduate student on the review panel explains, ‘As a student, what I look for in an online class is not only the ease of use of the site, or the availability of resources for assignments, but for a strong presence from my instructor. Dr. Malesky’s online class does just that; he establishes a friendly presence at the outset and maintains it throughout the course,’” said Belcher.

Last Lecture Award

Students selected Burton Ogle, professor and director of the environmental health sciences program, as the Last Lecture Award honoree. The award recognizes faculty who teach with passion and enthusiasm and recipients deliver a Last Lecture address in the fall.

Burton Ogle

Burton Ogle

In their nomination statements, students consistently praised Ogle for his passion, integrity and commitment to their success.

“As one student said, ‘Dr. Ogle is a “by your bootstraps” professional who worked very hard to get to where he is today,’” said  Belcher. “’He’s a role model for students trying to make their way in the world coming from less than stellar home lives and circumstances.’”

Another student commented that Ogle had inspired the student to be the best citizen possible and to take action. The student said Ogle “’reminds me why I was inspired to come to college in the first place, to make a difference in not just my life, but in others as well,’” said Belcher.

Support Program of Excellence Award

The Division of Information Technology’s Help Desk, which responds to more than 8,500 requests for help on campus each year, received the Support Program of Excellence Award. The unit works to deliver effective solutions by providing a friendly, knowledgeable and responsive support team for faculty, staff, students, prospective students, parents and alumni.

Chancellor David O. Belcher, center, honors members of the Division of Information Technology Help Desk with the Support Program of Excellence Award.

Chancellor David O. Belcher, center, honors members of the Division of Information Technology Help Desk with the Support Program of Excellence Award.

In 2012, all IT Help Desk support analysts attained Help Desk Institute Support Center Analyst certifications. Additionally, during the past five years, the help desk has improved across the board in all areas of quality assessment and consistently meets or exceeds national standards for help desk quality.

Also, earlier this year, the Help Desk Institute ranked WCU’s IT Help Desk as one of 50 top performers in the nation based on customer satisfaction rates. WCU was one of only six institutions of higher learning to appear in the top 50.

The program will receive a $10,000 award that will be available for use during the next academic year.


Scholarly Development Assignment Program

Patricia L. Bricker, associate professor of science education, this fall will continue her scholarly community engagement work with the Farm to School project in Jackson County Schools. Bricker’s work is in conjunction with the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project. Her efforts will include expanding the Farm to School curriculum, collecting and analyzing data, and establishing an engagement model for replication by other university/school partnerships.


Catherine W. Carter, associate professor and director of the English education program, will travel to the University of California – Berkeley and Stanford University to undertake research for her monograph study on American author Katherine Thompson Norris. Carter’s work on Norris is important not only because secondary scholarship on Norris is scant but also because it seeks to complicate Norris’s status as a writer of “popular romance” and to delve into the evolution of Norris as a writer whose work during the period of 1910 to 1960 engages in complex ways with the foundational social and political issues of her time with regard to divorce, birth control, women’s education and women’s role in the work force.


Peter Paul Nieckarz, associate professor of sociology, will spend the spring semester conducting a comprehensive analysis of the programming of local National Public Radio affiliate stations. His goal is to determine the extent to which local stations are still serving the communities in which they reside, or to which they are simply distributors of nationally syndicated content, thus undermining the notion of community service as a public broadcasting mandate. Past research on public broadcasting indicates that the original mission of public broadcasting has been abandoned due to political and financial pressures that have forced networks and local stations to rely on revenue sources that push public broadcasting towards organizational decisions more closely resembling commercial broadcasting, which is a clear drift away from original intentions of public radio. Nieckarz’s research will provide statistical data that will help to clarify this issue.


Cheryl Waters-Tormey, associate professor of geology, will spend the fall semester working with the Northern Territory Geological Survey studying the Proterozoic tectonic history (2,500 to 700 million years ago) in northern Australia. In 2012, Waters-Tormey reported the only Mesoproterozoic shear zone in central Australia. Shear zones are the most common locations of economic mineral resources, and she will be conducting extensive field work in northern Australia to determine if there are causal relationships between these economically important basins. This assignment will allow Waters-Tormey to develop collaborative relationships with Australian geologists while identifying new study sites in the region. Her work will result in the publication of peer-reviewed maps and papers describing the tectonic history and Proterozoic geology of northern Australia.


Office of the Provost

Professional Development Grant Recipients – Vittal Anantatmula, Carroll Brown, Indrani Bose, Margaret Ervin Bruder, Kristin Rhode Calvert, Guanghsu Chang, David Brannan Claxton, Kendra Leigh Coker, Robert K. Crow, Janina Cauley DeHart, Amy Crandall Dowling, Robert H. Ferguson , Rachel Marie Fleming, Robert Wayne Ford, Dorothy Saxon Greene, John C. Habel, Roger E. Hartley, Stephanie Sue Helmers, David Graham Henderson, Glenda Gale Hensley, Paul Douglas Johnson, Thomas C. Johnson, Hayrettin Bora Karayaka, Glenn Arthur Kastrinos, Albert M. Kopak Jr., Rebecca S. Kornegay, Jane R. Livingstone, Katherine Gould Mathews, James Morse McLachlan, Lane Graves Perry III, Belinda Dee Petricek, Patricia Cowan Proffitt, Christina L. Reitz, Jack Sholder, Masafumi Takeda, April C. Tallant, Karyn Tomczak, Blair Ryan Tormey, Lori Eilleen Unruh, Jamie C. Vaske, Tacquice Andrienne Wiggan

College of Arts and Sciences

Board of Governors’ Teaching Award – Jennifer Slama Schiff

College of Business

Board of Governors’ Creative and Innovative Teaching Award – Danial L. Clapper, Theresa Domagalski

Excellence in Research Award – James B. DeConinck

Graduate Teaching Award – Scott Charles Rader

Professor of Excellence – Stephen C. Miller

College of Education and Allied Professions

Board of Governors’ Awards for Superior Teaching – Ellen Ava Sigler, Kelly Nelson Tracy

Botner Superior Teaching Award – Heather Thompson-Rainey

Dean’s Research Award – Valerie Leigh Mazzotti

Exemplary Service Award – Stephen James Wargo

College of Fine and Performing Arts

Board of Governors’ Teaching Award – Karyn Tomczak

Graduate School and Research

Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award – Lisa Arlene Bloom, Brian D. Byrd, Guangshu Chang, Sharon F. Dole, Katherine Gould Mathews, Benjamin Ryan Tanner

Hunter Scholar Award – David Mark McCord

College of Health and Human Sciences

Board of Governors’ Innovative Teaching Award – Tracy Lynn Zontek, Amy Wells Putnam

Faculty Student Engagement Award – Cheryl Carmen Clark

Faculty/Staff Leadership Award – Stephen E. Brown

Faculty Service Award – Shawn Bryant Collins

Faculty Scholar Award – Michael W. Hubble

Honors College

Recognition of Distinction in Instruction and Nurturing – Brent Kinser

Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology

Board of Governors’ Distinguished Teaching Award – Gary Burke

Distinguished Student Engagement Award – Robert Wayne Ford

Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising – William McDaniel

Outstanding Early-Career Faculty Award – Robert E. Steffen



WCU also honored 35 retirees who represent 785 years and one month of service to WCU. Retiring faculty and administrative staff are Lili Acheson, Elizabeth Addison, Wanda Ashe, Suzanne Baker, John Bardo, Kenneth Beck, Ruth Bennett, Lila Buchanan, James Catron, James Culp, Claire Decristofaro, Lonnie Dockery, Bonnie Garner, Connie Hanna, Dianne Harris, Scott Higgins, Michael Hoyle, April Karby, Richard Littrell, Beth Tyson Lofquist, William Manware, Joe McFalls, Clifton Metcalf, Kay Moore, Sandra Oldham, Jane Perlmutter, Martha Tolley, Robert Ray, John Ritchie, Marya Roland, Donna Scott and Raymond Sorrells. Entering phased retirement is Harold Herzog, Gary Jones and Jerry Kinard.

Compiled by Teresa Killian Tate

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


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