Western Carolina University recently presented its top faculty and staff awards for teaching, research and service for the 2011-12 academic year.
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 Last Lecture during 2012 Homecoming events.
Information about Award Recipients:
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.
Wes Stone, associate professor of engineering and technology, won the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Stone helps students learn complex math and engineering technology concepts while demonstrating their real-world application, said Belcher 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 makes a true educational difference because he respects and takes seriously each student as whole person,” said Belcher
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. “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.
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. “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.
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, she has been a principal investigator or involved in a variety of grant applications with colleagues and members of the community. 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.
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 book chapters and made national presentations. She has coordinated conferences and workshops for WCU and the region. “Phyllis exemplifies the actively engaged faculty member who views service to her students, colleagues, discipline and the region as essential, integrated and connected,” said Belcher.
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. “Dr. Mulligan is a model researcher and an exemplary leader, most deserving of the 2012 University Scholar Award,” said Belcher.
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
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.
Meagan R. Karvonen, associate professor of educational research, 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
David Dorondo, associate professor of history, was selected by students to give a “last lecture” during 2012 Homecoming festivities. 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.”