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High-achieving faculty, staff honored during ceremony

The best of Western Carolina University’s teaching, scholarship and service for academic year 2015-16 was recognized Friday (April 22) during the annual spring Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards ceremony held in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center.

Top teaching awards honored the achievements of Carmen Huffman, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics, who is WCU’s 2016 recipient of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Sudhir Kaul, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology, who received WCU’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Huffman is among 17 recipients of the UNC teaching honor and will receive her award during WCU’s undergraduate commencement that begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 7.

Carmen Huffman

Carmen Huffman

WCU staff members recognized for the exemplary quality of their work were Dawn Brown, technology support specialist with the Division of Information Technology, Star Staff Award; Anne Lane, administrative support associate with the Mountain Heritage Center, Bright Idea Staff Award; Irene Welch, business officer in the budget office, Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award; and Jane Adams-Dunford, assistant vice chancellor in the Division of Student Affairs, Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff.

Teaching, scholarship and service honors presented to faculty members included Ann Johnson, professor in the School of Nursing, Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty; Alvin Malesky, associate professor and department head in the Department of Psychology, University Scholar Award; Burton Ogle, professor in the School of Health Sciences, Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award; Chip Ferguson, associate professor and associate dean in the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology, Innovative Scholarship Award; and Todd Collins, associate professor and director of the Public Policy Institute in the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, Excellence in Community Engagement Award.

Other honors went to Windy Gordon, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, who was chosen by students to deliver the 2016 Last Lecture, and the Parks and Recreation Management Program, winner of the Academic Program of Excellence Award. Chosen to participate in the Scholarly Development Assignment Program are Annette Debo, Axelle Faughn, David Henderson, John Williams, Mary Adams and Niall Michelsen.

Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award

Sudhir Kahul

WCU Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar presented the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award to Sudhir Kaul and said his teaching philosophy emphasizes the “open-ended and iterative nature of engineering problem solving” and that it consistently connects the theoretical and practical.

“He recognizes that, in his course, students begin to see the concepts from their earlier learning come together, and he sees his position as that of a guide, helping students to apply the math and physics they have already learned to practical systems. The committee was impressed with Dr. Kaul’s obvious love of teaching and delight in pursuing teaching excellence,” Morrison-Shetlar said.

Alvin Malesky

University Scholar Award

Alvin Malesky, recipient of the University Scholar Award, has conducted research on the effectiveness of sex offender registry websites, the use of social networking websites and integrity violations in online classes, Morrison-Shetlar said as she presented the honor.

“The research in online class integrity has numerous implications for how faculty could or should develop courses as we develop online pedagogies to complement, and in some cases replace, classroom, laboratory and outdoor teaching methods,” she said.

Burton OgleExcellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award

Morrison-Shetlar presented the Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award to Burton Ogle. “Dr. Burt Ogle defines excellence as a teacher of liberal studies,” she said.

“A deep commitment to students and a visible enthusiasm for environmental health serves to open minds and expand worldviews that prepare students for life at the university and change their lives. At a university full of great teachers, Burt Ogle is one of the best,” Morrison-Shetlar said.

Chip Ferguson

Innovative Scholarship Award

As she presented the Innovative Scholarship Award to Chip Ferguson, Morrison-Shetlar spoke about a program designed by Ferguson that brings about multiple benefits for science, technology, engineering and math (also known as STEM) students and programs.

The program, titled Scholarship Program Initiative via Recruitment, Innovation and Transformation (also known as SPIRIT), “has produced significant scholarship” and “demonstrates Dr. Chip Ferguson’s commitment to improving students’ learning experiences through innovative scholarship,” she said.

Todd Collins

Excellence in Community Engagement Award

The Excellence in Community Engagement Award was presented to Todd Collins. Morrison-Shetlar related to the audience that Collins was recently named WCU’s Steed Distinguished Professor in Public Policy, a position that is focused on expanding engagement with local governments and nonprofits in the area. “This explicitly aligns with Todd’s perspective on community engagement,” she said.

Collins “has clearly and publicly demonstrated a sustained, distinguished and superb commitment to university public service and outreach,” Morrison-Shetlar said.

Windy GordonLast Lecture Award

The Last Lecture Award is the only teaching award at WCU in which the recipient is selected solely by students, Morrison-Shetlar said as she presented the award to Windy Gordon. “Students use superlatives such as inspiring, passionate and fantastic to describe him and his classes,” she said. “Dr. Gordon’s students provided example after example of his interaction with students that made them want to stay in school. One stated, ‘Dr. Gordon is the reason I am still attending classes. He made me believe in myself.’”

Ann Johnson2Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Faculty

Morrison-Shetlar presented the Reid Service Award for Faculty to Ann Johnson. Speaking about Johnson’s 30 years in the WCU nursing program, Morrison-Shetlar said she “has often worn multiple hats, jumping in to serve as acting head or interim dean for colleges outside of nursing.

“She exemplifies Western’s commitment to education and sharing knowledge by leading and presenting programs on both a regional and national level,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “She has lent her talents to many outside institutions, helping to develop and improve health care outcomes for students and our communities.”


Academic Program of Excellence Award

Maurice Phipps, professor in the Parks and Recreation Management Program, accepted the Academic Program of Excellence Award from Morrison-Shetlar on behalf of the program’s students and faculty. The parks and recreation faculty prepare leaders for the recreation resource and outdoor education professions by promoting resourcefulness, independent thinking, the ability to cope with change and service to society, and “student experiential education is a foundational aspect of the program,” she said.


Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff

Jane Adams-Dunford

Jane Adams-Dunford received the Reid Service Award for Administrative Staff. In presenting the honor, Mike Byers, vice chancellor for administration and finance, said Adams-Dunford has been described by her peers as someone who has “an innate need to help others through actions and deeds without looking for something in return.”

“An accomplished, award-winning leader, Jane has worked tirelessly in support of campus diversity, student engagement and recognizing that all students need a voice,” Byers said. “She developed retention programs for academically challenged students; provided academic, career, personal and peer-to-peer counseling; provided cultural awareness programs for the campus and community; and developed disability awareness training.”

Dawn BrownStar Staff Award

Dawn Brown was announced as recipient of the Star Staff Award. Byers said Brown is a model leader and supportive mentor who works just as hard as her team in IT. “Dawn is committed to a work environment not built around job descriptions, but one focused on serving the faculty, staff and students of WCU, because that’s where her heart is,” he said.

“Dawn is a wealth of knowledge and has a super positive infectious attitude,” Byers said. “She encourages her team to be the best they can be in all situations, adding humor, toys and hats to rally the team when the queue lights up, a system goes down or whenever they just need a reminder that ‘we’re all in this together.’”

Anne LaneBright Idea Staff Award

Anne Lane of the Mountain Heritage Center staff has been working at WCU for only a little over two years, “but fortunately, she brought her inventive side with her to Western,” Byers said.

Lane was charged with coming up with a safe and accessible storage system for the museum’s collections, and with the help of the university architect, she developed a system utilizing industrial shelving and rolling baker’s racks that are “working like a charm” and that were much less expensive than conventional museum storage systems, he said.

Irene WelchJudy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award

Byers said Irene Welch, recipient of the Judy H. Dowell Outstanding Support Staff Award, “has been part of the WCU family for almost 28 years.” The individual who nominated Welch for the award, which is given to a non-exempt SHRA employee for outstanding service, said she is “always willing to help, give advice or just listen if you need an ear,” he said.

Continuing to relate the nominator’s comments, Byers said, “Irene has helped many, many employees feel at ease because she’s such a kind and generous person. She is dependable, loyal to the university’s mission and goals, and provides the best customer service you will ever find.”

Scholarly Development Assignment Program

Recipients and their projects:

Annette Debo, professor in the Department of English, a monograph titled “The Necessary Past: The Historical Poem in Contemporary African-American Poetry.”

Axelle Faughn, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, research on the role of professional development in the transfer of resources from teachers’ collectives into the mathematics classroom, and research on a “Mathematic Selfies” study on student-produced representations of visual mathematics concepts through photography.

David Henderson, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, a book titled “Tending the Wilderness: Natural Science and the Love of Nature.”

John Williams, professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, a co-authored monograph: “The Arvilla Complex Revisited. (The complex is a late Woodland burial mound on the northeastern plains of North Dakota.)

Mary Adams, associate professor in the Department of English, writing two chapters and an introduction to a volume on Shakespeare and chiasmus, a way of mirroring sentence structure and sounds.

Niall Michelsen, associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, research on the interplay of domestic and international forces as they pertain to democracy and democratic governance, and research on international summit agendas of the G-family (G7, G8 and G20) members.



Office of the Provost

Professional development grant recipients are Risto Atanasov, Marsha Lee Baker, Melissa Birkhofer, Paromita Biswas, David Brown, Lyn Burkett, Brian Byrd, Kristen Calvert, Andrew Carnes, Emily Darnell, Annette Debo, Andrew Denson, Pamela Duncan, Mimi Fenton, Brian Gastle, Jay Gerlach, Yue Cai, Adriel Hilton, Beth Huber, Brent Kinser, Marco Lam, Diane Martinez, Jon Marvel, James McLachlan, Rain Newcomb, April Perry, Carrie Rogers, Honor Sachs, Krista Schmidt, Michelle Sorensen, Robert Steffen, Peter Tay, Paul Worley and Jayne Zanglein.

College of Arts and Sciences

Board of Governors College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Award – John Whitmire

College of Business

Board of Governors Creative and Innovative Teaching Award – Julie Johnson-Busbin

Professor of Excellence – Mary Beth DeConinck

College of Education and Allied Professions

Board of Governors Award for Superior Teaching – Russ Binkley

Botner Superior Teaching Award – Kia Asberg

Dean’s Research Award – Tom Ford

Exemplary Service Award – Jenny Stewart

Soaring High Award – Melinda Cooper

College of Fine and Performing Arts

Board of Governors College of Fine and Performing Arts Teaching Award – Ian Jeffress

Faculty Scholarship Award – Heather Mae Erickson

Robert Kehrberg Service Award – Heather Mae Erickson

Graduate School and Research

Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award – Robert Clines, Chris Cooper, Bora Karayaka, Mary Anna LaFratta and Honor Sachs

College of Health and Human Sciences

Board of Governors Innovative Teaching Award – Carol MacKusick and David Wells

Faculty Leadership Award – Sharon Metcalfe

Faculty Scholar Award – Sharon Metcalfe

Faculty Service Award – Brian Byrd

Faculty-Student Engagement Award – Amy Murphy-Nugen

Inter-professional Education Award – Colleen Hayes

Health and Wellness Award – Kae Livsey

Hunter Library

Hunter Scholar Award – Mimi Fenton

Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology

Board of Governors Distinguished Teaching Award – Sung Joon Suk

Distinguished Research and Scholarly Engagement Award – Paul Yanik

Distinguished Student Engagement Award – Robert Adams

Excellence in Mentoring and Advising Award – Sean June

Outstanding Early-Career Faculty Award – Omidreza Shoghli

The George Reeser Outstanding Faculty Award – Wes Stone



Ten Years of Service

Vittal Anantatmula, Arledge Armenaki, Scott Barlowe, Lauren Bishop, Linda Carmody, Diana Catley, Peg Connolly, Mary Beth DeConinck, Anna Fariello, Susan Fouts, Brad Glenn, Elizabeth Heffelfinger, Glenda Hensley, Sunny Himes, Mary Anne Hollis, Steven Honbarger, Carmen Huffman, Scott Huffman, Tom Johnson, Tony Johnson, Cheryl Johnston, Kelly Kelley, Brent Kinser, James Kirkpatrick, William Kreahling, Jeffrey Lawson, Karen Mason, Sharon Metcalfe, Kellie Monteith, Bill Richmond, Phyllis Robertson, Judy Robinson, Baldwin Sanders, Michelle Scifers, Benjamin Tanner, Erin Tapley, Blair Tormey, Lori Unruh, Melissa Wargo, Barbara Jo White, John Whitmire, Steve Wohlrab, Laura Wright, Paul Yanik and Jayne Zanglein.

Fifteen Years of Service

Melissa Allen, Kay Benson, Jason Brady, Patricia Bricker, Heidi Buchanan, Donald Carringer, Brian Chamberlin, Misty Colton, Annette Debo, Brian Dinkelmeyer, Jane Eastman, Matt Henley, Kimberly Jamison, Thomas Martin, William Martin, Thelma Mathis, Patricia McGraw, Niall Michelsen, Peter Nieckarz, Sean O’Connell, Linda Painter, David Steinbicker, Lisa Surber, George Sutton, Vicki Szabo, Jed Tate, Denise Wilfong, Rachel Wike and Lisa Wilson.

Mike Byers, Marissa Ray and Marilyn Chamberlin were present and honored as 20-year employees.

Mike Byers, Marissa Ray and Marilyn Chamberlin were present and honored as 20-year employees.

Twenty Years of Service

Mary Adams, David Burress, Mike Byers, Janet Cabe, Aaron Carter, Marilyn Chamberlin, Wiley Danner, Keith Dills, Donna Jones, Matt Liddle, Mark Murphy, Marissa Ray and Valerie Schwiebert.

Between the Provost and the Chancellor, Dawn Coward and William Frady were recognized for 25 years of service.

Between the provost and the chancellor, Dawn Coward and William Frady were recognized for 25 years of service.

Twenty-Five Years of Service

Jeff Bewsey, Pamela Buchanan, James Busbin, Jerry Cagle, David Cowan, Dawne Coward, William Frady, John Freeman, Glenda Gainor, Maxine Massingale, Sue McPherson, John Surber, Thomas Walawender, Donna Watson, Margaret Watson, Cindy Williams and Karen Woody.

Thirty-year honorees present were (front row, left to right) Tammy Haskett, Phil Cauley, Mario Gaetano, Gregory Plemmons, Renee Corbin; (back row, left to right, flanked by the Provost and the Chancellor) Andy Degrove, Debbie Justice, Carolyn Wiggins, Timothy Carstens, _____, Dale Carpenter and Pam Degraffenreid.

Thirty-year honorees present were (front row, left to right) Tammy Haskett, Phil Cauley, Mario Gaetano, Gregory Plemmons, Renee Corbin; (back row, left to right, flanked by the provost and the chancellor) Andy Degrove, Debbie Justice, Carolyn Wiggins, Timothy Carstens, Gwen Nicholson, Dale Carpenter and Pam Degraffenreid.

Thirty-Plus Years of Service

Aaron Ball, Roseanna Belt, Linda Bowers, Dale Carpenter, Timothy Carstens, Phil Cauley, John Clark, Bill Clarke, Renee Corbin, Jeff Davis, Pamela DeGraffenreid, Andy Degrove, George Frizzell, Sheila Frizzell, Burton Fox, Sherry Fox, Mario Gaetano, Jeff Hagberg, Tammy Haskett, Bruce Henderson, Anthony Hickey, Yvonne Hooper, Jack Hoyle, Jon Jicha, Ann Johnson, Debbie Justice, Rebecca Lindsay, Don Livingston, Carla Luker, Steve McClure, Gwen Nicholson, Sharon Painter, Gregory Plemmons, Dona Potts, David Shapiro, Kay Turpin, Terry Welch, John West, Michael Wheatley, Carolyn Wiggins and Ronald Wiggins.

Retiring Faculty and Staff

Margaret Ashe, Candace Benson, Josie Bewsey, Donna Carpenter, Timothy Carstens, Steve Christison, Peggy Cope, Kimsey Corzine, R.B. Danner, Stephen English, Victoria Faircloth, Terry Curtis Fox, William Gates, Mac Gossett, Rosie Greenwood, Sandra Grunwell, Mary Jean Herzog, Lisa Hoyle, Luther Jones, Robert Kehrberg, Phillip Kneller, Steve McClure, Anna McFadden, Bill Moore, Jenny Owen, Ernie Plemmons, Eleanor Prochaska, Mike Razdrh, Anne Rogers, Barbara Schade, Peg Shafer, Alan Sellars, Laura Sellers, Cynthia Soderstrom, Ronnie Stillwell, Deborah Tarmann, Mary Teslow, Chris Tuten, Vicky Wade and Tommy Westbrook.

Faculty Entering Phased Retirement, 2015-16

Casey Hurley, Kathy Starr and Jayne Zanglein.

Information compiled by Randall Holcombe

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Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


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