2017 Teaching Award Winners

 

At its September 1993 meeting, the Board of Governors adopted a report on Tenure and Teaching in the University of North Carolina. The report, prepared jointly by the Board's Committee on Personnel and Tenure and its Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs, reaffirmed the Board's insistence that teaching is the primary responsibility of each of the 17 constituent institutions of the University. To underscore the importance of teaching and to encourage, identify, recognize, reward, and support good teaching within the University, the Board adopted a set of six specific recommendations, including the following:

That the Board of Governors create annual systemwide teaching awards with monetary stipends which are designated "Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching."

Each recipient is honored at their respective campus Spring commencement ceremony by a member of the Board of Governors and receives a $12,500 stipend and a bronze medallion.

 

 

 

Dr. Tracy Wilson Smith | Appalachian State University

Dr. Tracy Wilson Smith, Professor and Assistant Chair in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Appalachian State University, joined the faculty in 2000 and has taught 23 different courses for undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students on the main campus and at Appalachian’s satellite campuses. Her departmental chairperson characterizes Dr. Smith’s commitment to teaching excellence as “unparalleled.”

Former students value Dr. Smith’s ethic of caring, fostering of positive relationships, expectation of excellence for herself and her students, academic rigor, careful design of courses and experiences, advocacy for public education, and cultivation of student growth. The students spoke of Dr. Smith’s profound and long-lasting impact. One student said, “Dr. Smith is the educator I strive to emulate. She has changed my life, not only because she gave me the skills necessary to deliver high quality instruction, but also, and more importantly, because she gave me the confidence to believe I could be a great teacher and that I, too, could make a difference in my students’ lives.” Another reflected, “I often consider the role Dr. Smith has had in my views on instruction and leadership. In the quiet conferences I hold with my students, Dr. Smith’s influence is found. In the workshops that I have designed and delivered to hundreds of peers, her message for nourishing instruction firmly resides. Dr. Smith’s instruction has moved the souls of countless individuals in the most edifying ways, and this will continue in the next generations as her advice is offered from teachers to teachers, from teachers to students, and from parents to children. Hers is a voice with enduring resonance.”

Further indicative of her quality teaching, Dr. Smith has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards and has been asked to share her expertise at the university level. In 2005 and in 2015 she was awarded the Reich College of Education Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2005, she was also awarded the Appalachian State University Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Award. In 2014, she received the RCOE Outstanding Mentor Award, and in 2016, she received the RCOE Community of Practice Award. In 2015, she was selected as a participant in the inaugural cohort of the Appalachian Academic Leadership Development Program. She also currently serves as Faculty Fellow in the Reich College of Education where she facilitates professional learning opportunities for faculty and staff.

Dr. Smith has facilitated teaching-focused faculty development initiatives such as the Scholarly Teaching Academy and Course (Re)Design Institute for Appalachian State University. More than 70 courses have been designed as a result of the Course (Re)Design Institute, which focuses on developing courses for significant and long-lasting student learning. One participant noted that Dr. Smith “helped us design courses based on best practices. She met with us individually even after the Institute was over. She is kind and caring and takes the time to learn about your individual needs as she works to encourage you to improve your course… I have personally learned so much from Dr. Smith, and everyone I know who has interacted with her has only glowing remarks to say about her influence and dedication.” Another participant stated, “Her creativity, innovation, and encouragement have been a constant source of inspiration for the rest of us.”

Dr. Smith received the Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Master of Arts in Curriculum Specialist at Appalachian State University, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Teaching at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

 

Q&A with Tracy Wilson Smith

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

At Appalachian, faculty have a deep commitment to teaching excellence. As I’ve also been involved in directing our Course (Re)Design Institute and other intensive faculty development initiatives, I have seen the brilliance of so many colleagues on our campus. To be selected among this remarkable collection of teachers is an incredible honor. Also, I was a first-generation college student. My teachers and my parents had confidence in me that helped me to pursue my education.

Q. Is there a particular achievement in your career that makes you especially proud?

When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher had a Ph.D. I didn’t even know at the time what Ph.D. stood for, but I remember feeling challenged in her class – and supported. She made me believe I could accomplish anything. In her class, I made a commitment that whatever a Ph.D. was, I would get one someday. After I earned my Ph.D., I went back to teaching, in my high school English department, with that teacher who inspired me serving as my department chair.

A few years ago, I received the Mentoring Award given by my College, and that was really wonderful, too. The work I value most as a teacher and a colleague at Appalachian is the time spent investing in others, as a mentor. “Leadership isn’t about being great. It’s about allowing others to be great.” (David McQueen)

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I have implemented my ideas and theories about teaching and learning in a variety of ways. I have used strategies such as literature circles, Paideia seminars, World Café Conversations, reflective writing, philosophy journaling, problem-based learning, writing for authentic purposes and audiences, and clinical application projects to help my students analyze texts and ideas independently and collectively.

I use mediated activities to facilitate discussions about students’ experiences, including their understandings of young adolescent culture, public education policy, core curriculum, and the culture of middle schools and the communities they serve. I set high expectations for students and try to provide clear expectations for projects and assignments, while allowing students to make choices related to specific areas of study (e.g., topics for lesson/unit plans; topic and medium for young adolescent advocacy project).

 

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Patricia A. Clark | East Carolina University

Professor Patricia A. Clark is a full professor in the East Carolina University School of Theatre and Dance in the College of Fine Arts and Communication. In her 23 years at the University she has been a leader in curriculum development in her school and has also contributed to university wide writing across the curriculum, service-learning, leadership capacity development, global awareness and diversity, and community engagement efforts. Currently she is coordinator of both the BFA in Theatre Education and the BFA in Theatre for Youth. She is also the founder and director of the East Carolina University Storybook Theatre, a program that provides young learners throughout Eastern North Carolina the opportunity to experience live theatre.

Prof. Clark believes in the importance of engagement, diversity, and the power of storytelling. She believes “in the power of a world community of learners and in reaching beyond the walls of a classroom to discover, shout, create, laugh, ponder, question, and gather experiences that will have both a personal and academic impact upon my students. Whatever I have to share in the traditional classroom must come alive in the practical setting of the public and private schools, community festivals, libraries, and children’s hospitals.” She believes in creating partnerships where students can learn about themselves and others and has worked with Global Partners in Education to engage her students with students in Japan, Peru, Russia, and Mexico. She asks her students to reflect on pedagogical practices and experiences as a vital element of learning and teaching.

Prof. Clark teaches courses from Introduction to Acting and Theatre History to Playwriting for Children and Youth and Theatre Education. Her director notes that “in virtually every aspect of her work, she involves, engages, and mentors students.” Her ‘hands-on’ teaching methods in Storybook Theatre bring live theatre experiences to over 4,000 children annually with productions on campus and in underserved community schools in eastern North Carolina.

Colleagues and students praise her positive example and mentoring: “In spite of her enormous creative activity and teaching load, she always has a smile on her face, a bounce in her step, and a kind and encouraging word for everyone. She exudes positive, loving energy at all times. It is this loving persona and deep compassion that make her such a unique and wonderful teacher.” Another says, “I have never met a teacher more passionate about her discipline or more generous with her time. She is patient, empathetic, and truly invested in her students’ progress. Her office door, as well and her mind and her heart, are always open. She is a model of kindness and unselfishness.”

In addition to being an outstanding teacher, Prof. Clark is active in scholarship and service. She is an accomplished actor, director, playwright, and mentor. Her commitment to bringing arts to all results in service activities from the renovation and business plan development for the Turnage Theatre in Washington, NC. to travel to Iraq to share storytelling and puppetry with small children in the warzone.

Previously Prof. Clark received The Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Teaching Award, the University Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Teaching, and the ECU Scholar-Teacher Award. With a Japanese university partner, she received the 2016 Global Partners in Education International Award for Collaboration and Global Storybook Theatre.

Prof. Clark earned the AA in Theatre Arts at Webster College, Washington, DC, and the BFA in Theatre Education and MFA in Theatre Arts-Performance at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Q&A with Patricia Clark

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

I am deeply moved by this award and wish to share this honor with my students, colleagues, staff and administration who have provided so many opportunities to grow and learn not only within the University walls but in the surrounding community and around the world as well. To encourage students to embrace other ideas, cultures, insights, talents and vision is an amazing life journey. Through East Carolina University’s many programs and opportunities for enrichment, development, and creativity, my students and I have shared a myriad of enlightening and rich experiences.

Q. Is there a particular achievement in your career that makes you especially proud?

I was very moved when our Storybook Theatre performance ensemble received an award this past summer in Yekaterinburg, Russia from Global Partners in Education for our collaborative work with the University of Shimane, Japan. This has been a life-changing experience in which our students have shared stories, customs, culture and developed lifelong friendships. Students from the University of Shimane and ECU have performed together via teleconferencing not only for each other’s respective universities, but for the elementary schools in Japan as well. Professor Eleanor Kane from the University of Shimane, Japan and I were very proud of our students and their dedication to the process of global understanding both here in the United States and abroad. Other stories gathered in the global classroom through linking sessions with Peru, Beijing, Russia, and Mexico have also been shared with school children around eastern North Carolina. We hope that we will touch the lives of young audiences as we share stories from around the world.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

My students and I are a team out in the field together whether at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital, Cherry Point Marine Base, at schools, conferences, festivals, or community gatherings. We are constantly problem solving, working together to discover how we might make a difference in the lives of our audiences or in the classroom filled with eager young students waiting for us to perform and share multicultural stories. As a teacher, I am constantly challenged each time we begin a new idea, play, story, or plan and I am learning along with my students to problem solve, create, and express in each and every unique setting or situation. Together we make discoveries that contribute to the process of understanding and growth as people, as educators and as life-long learners. Service learning experiences are vital to our discovery and learning.

Linking with countries from around the globe has also becomes an important experience in the engagement of students in learning. As we now currently link with Pharos University in Alexandria, Egypt, students see yet another world and culture that becomes a not-so-distant future destination of understanding as they exchange stories, culture and ideas and together form new partnerships and encourage world ideas.

 

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Glen Clarence Bowman, Jr. | Elizabeth City State University

Glen Clarence Bowman, Jr. is Professor of History in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Originally from suburban Philadelphia, right outside of Quakertown, Pennsylvania, he has been at Elizabeth City State University since August 1999. Now in his 18th year as an Elizabeth City State University Viking, he sees himself as a public educator and as public servant in the broadest sense.

Believing that society needs global citizens who can write effectively and who are disciplined thinkers with the potential to lead in the workplace, the classroom and the community, Professor Bowman emphasizes critical thinking and clear, concise, and crisp writing in his courses. He wants students to question what they hear, even what they hear from him; and to demand evidence before they believe something to be true. He likes to say, “If you don’t do your own thinking, someone else will do it for you.”

In 2005, he completed a textbook that addresses critical thinking in world history, The Razor’s Edge. Dr. Bowman donated all royalties to the Ballou Fund, which he established on campus to honor Leonard Ballou, a long-time university archivist. Funds have helped sponsor student research travel and train area History teachers on cutting-edge techniques in pedagogy.

Early in his career he focused on the religious history of the Reformation, conducting research abroad in such institutions as the University of Cambridge, the British Library, and the Public Records Office; and publishing several articles on that subject in peer-reviewed journals.

In 2012 he completely switched his area of interest and started work on an updated history of Elizabeth City State University, in preparation for Founders Day 2016, the institution’s 125th anniversary. He discovered documents in the North Carolina Department of Archives and History that were unknown to earlier writers of Elizabeth City State history. The dramatic story of how this institution barely survived a vote by the State Board of Education in 1903 had never been told.

That story, and other similar stories of perseverance and resilience in the face of Jim Crow, the Great Depression, World War Two, and pervasive regional poverty, can be found in his newly-published book Elizabeth City State University, 1891-2016: The Continuity of a Historical Legacy of Excellence and Resilience. Dr. Bowman did not seek to write a puff-piece that covers only the positive while neglecting the negative, but rather a scholarly book based on historical documents.

Since March 2015 he has also written a weekly column on Elizabeth City State history for the Daily Advance, now in its 100th year as Elizabeth City’s daily newspaper. Bottom line, he wants the entire public—not just his students at Elizabeth City State University—to know about the area’s history, especially the usually neglected history of African-Americans. To him, history gives all of us a deeper sense of identity.

Dr. Bowman is a highest honors graduate of Cedarville University. He earned a Master of Arts degree in History at West Virginia University and a PhD in History at the University of Minnesota.

Q&A with Glen C. Bowman Jr.

Q. Is there a particular achievement in your career that makes you especially proud?

Yes, my work since 2012. The most exciting work in my career has been as a "public educator" of sorts sharing my research on local African-American History and the history of Elizabeth City State University with the public. I have thoroughly enjoyed going out into the community and speaking to community groups and alumni groups in North Carolina and Virginia, as well as speaking at area churches and schools, and sharing my research with visitors to the Museum of the Albemarle and with the readers of the "Daily Advance," the local newspaper. It is nice to know that I have "students" who have never been inside an ECSU classroom with me. I should say, not inside a classroom with me -- yet!

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I have scrapped the lecture -- even in freshman-level surveys -- and instead emphasize class discussion and public speaking. Several students will present brief oral reports during a class session, and those reports serve as the basis for classroom discussion. I like to make my students think, even if they don't want to do more than just sit down and listen. If I see most students taking one side of an issue, I will take the other side just to play devil's advocate, hoping to model careful, measured thinking. I want them to know that in the end, they are responsible for their own education. After all, spoon-feeding is for nannies and babysitters, NOT professors.

Q. What do you feel is the most important thing you can pass on to your current students?

The need to question authority and to find one's voice so one is able to stand up for oneself and to become a leader wherever called to serve. A so-called expert wearing a silk suit and possessing an earned doctorate may say something is true, but that does not make it so. I want my students to demand evidence and persuasive reasoning before they believe something to be true -- and to always remain willing to change their minds if need be. It is OK to be wrong, and one must be able to accept being wrong; but staying wrong is a poor choice.

 

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Dr. Emily Lenning | Fayetteville State University

Dr. Emily Lenning is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Fayetteville State University. She has been a faculty member at Fayetteville State University for nine years and has also served as the Graduate Program Coordinator for the Department of Criminal Justice and as the Component B Director for the Bronco STAR program, which serves students with learning differences and supports faculty and staff in meeting their needs.

Dr. Lenning believes that her students are all unique learners, so she strives to teach in a way that is flexible and accessible. In order to create a learning environment that supports a broad range of learners, Dr. Lenning uses innovative course design and teaching strategies, such as Dee Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning and Universal Design for Learning. Using these techniques assures that her courses are learner-centered, that course content is delivered in multiple formats, that her students are fully engaged, and that students are given the opportunity to express what they have learned in a variety of ways. As one of her former students point out, “This is what makes Dr. Lenning so special, she provides a teaching environment that is conducive to all of her students.”

Dr. Lenning has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses online and on-campus and has used a variety of different approaches to teaching them, such as offering hybrid courses, “flipping” her class, using team-based learning, and even taking students to study abroad in London, England. Students respond well to Dr. Lenning’s engaging approach, but also recognize that she is consistent in how she provides support to those in her classes. As one student put it, “Dr. Lenning has brought excitement into the classroom. She always has a new and exciting way to get us involved in learning. She sets a standard at the beginning of the semester and does not deviate from it. She equips the students with the tools they need to succeed and offers her time to ensure a successful semester. She truly is an outstanding professor.”

In addition to teaching students in the classroom Dr. Lenning educates others in a variety of ways. Every fall she joins Provost Jon Young to co-teach Fayetteville State University’s 16-week faculty development seminar for new faculty and through her role in the Bronco STAR program she has taught a series of workshops for faculty and staff about the principles of Universal Design for Learning. She has also worked to make her campus more inclusive of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students by providing Safezone training to hundreds of faculty, staff, and students. Dr. Lenning’s scholarship also reflects her love of teaching, as she has several articles and book chapters that focus on innovative teaching techniques.

Dr. Lenning earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Western Michigan University in 2002, her MA in Sociology from Western Michigan University in 2004, and her PhD in Sociology from Western Michigan University in 2008.

Q&A with Emily Lenning

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

Being selected as a recipient of this award is an absolute honor and I am incredibly proud to represent Fayetteville State University in this capacity. This award is a reminder to me that my efforts to be a flexible and accessible teacher are valued by the UNC system, and it inspires me to continue these efforts and to keep growing as an educator.

I am excited to learn even more about how to implement emerging best practices in order to create the most effective learning environment possible for my students.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

As an advocate of Universal Design for Learning, I believe that we must make our physical and virtual classrooms more inclusive by providing content in multiple formats (multiple means of representation), use a variety of techniques to foster excitement around the material (multiple means of engagement), and give students options in how they express what they have learned (multiple means of action/expression).

Using these three principles has allowed me to support a broader range of learners and has impacted the way I approach course design. As I grow as an educator I find myself more willing to experiment in the classroom with strategies like flipping the class, utilizing team-based learning, offering hybrid courses, and taking students abroad.

Q. How does your institution support great teaching?

Fayetteville State University is truly innovative when it comes to preparing faculty to become scholars of teaching and learning. Our university offers a 16-week seminar on course design to all of our new faculty, which I have been given the opportunity to co-teach with our Provost Jon Young.

Faculty who want to continue learning about effective teaching and learning techniques can do so by joining a faculty and staff learning community in the Bronco STAR program., which I have had the privilege of serving as the Component B (faculty development) Director. Finally, our Office of Faculty Development offers a broad range of ongoing professional development opportunities.

 

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Dr. Lisa A. Owens-Jackson | North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Dr. Lisa A. Owens-Jackson, has been an Associate Professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University since 2009. She is currently the Associate Dean of the College of Business and Economics and leads the Assessment of Learning Process. Dr. Owens-Jackson specializes in the use of financial and managerial accounting information for decision making and measurement of organizations’ success.

Dr. Owens-Jackson’s personal mission is “to prepare students to succeed in a competitive, technology driven, ever-changing global environment.” She is inspired by the words of Dean Emeritus Quiester Craig, “Students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Dr. Owens-Jackson acknowledges students’ diverse backgrounds and talents, approaches students with respect, and gives them constructive evaluations that are productive and supportive in their development.

Students are affected by her passion and her dedication to their success. Dr. Owens-Jackson is most proud of her students’ achievements including competition wins, graduate school success, CPA licensure, professional accomplishments, international travel, scholarships, PhD degrees, and community service. One student commented that, “Dr. Owens-Jackson is one of the most genuine and caring teachers. She has taught us skills that are valuable in the work place, as well as, exemplified the professional that students should aspire to be.”

Another student noted, “Since meeting Dr. Lisa Owens-Jackson my sophomore year, she has brought a little something extra to her job responsibilities and the College of Business and Economics every day. Beyond the classroom, beyond the case competitions, and beyond the fourth floor of Craig Hall, Dr. OJ is an amazing confidant and counselor… there isn’t anything you can’t talk over with Dr. OJ.” Yet another student commented on her recent student evaluation, "Dr. Owens-Jackson has to be one the best instructors that I have ever had … There was never a time I left the class not knowing because she ALWAYS made sure you understood and gave excellent examples!"

In 2016, Dr. Owens-Jackson was recognized as the Academic Advisor of the Year by the College of Business and Economics and the Beta Alpha Psi National Meeting. In 2012, she received the Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. Since 2011, Dr. Owens-Jackson has been the faculty advisor for the Zeta Sigma Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi. During her tenure, the chapter has won over 15 national and regional awards. Dr. Owens-Jackson has a passion for accounting education research wherein she examines the impact of diversity on accounting education and the accounting profession. She has presented her research at the European Accounting Association, the American Accounting Association, the Institute of Management Accountants, the LEAN Accounting Summit, and many other conferences. Dr. Owens-Jackson is a results-oriented and accomplished CPA.

Dr. Owens-Jackson earned her BS in Accounting from North Carolina A&T State University, MA in Accounting at The Ohio State University, and Ph.D. in Accounting from Oklahoma State University.

Q&A with Lisa A. Owens-Jackson

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

This is a once-in-a-lifetime honor and it is very significant to me. Many of my mentors have received this award in the past. I see it as part of their legacy. It means a great deal to be recognized for doing something you love. There’s no other feeling like it. It recognizes and acknowledges my commitment to doing whatever it takes to make sure a student is successful.

This award provides me the opportunity to be an example to my students instilling in them the importance of giving back. I want to motivate them to action, see the importance of reaching back and supporting those who will inevitably come behind them. Become a mentor or establish a mentoring program, fund scholarships. As the National Association of Black Accountants motto says, “Lifting as we climb,” that’s what mentoring is all about. If you get to the top, you shouldn’t be alone, you should have a whole group of people who have made that journey with you. A&T has such a rich legacy, and when you receive benefit from that you feel a duty to pay that forward.

Q. How was your career path shaped?

Right after completing General Electric’s Financial Management Program, I worked as an instructor for the same program, training new FMP’s in finance and accounting. Once I began teaching the accounting portion I had an “aha” moment. It clicked for me that teaching was something I wanted to do. My first time in front of a college class was in 1995 at The Ohio State University. I was a graduate teaching assistant in front of non-business students trying to relay my passion for accounting. It was a challenging and invigorating experience that let me know I was on the right path.

I have always been inspired by Dean Emeritus Quiester Craig. He was quick to say, “Students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Dr. Craig helped identify funding to support my studies and put me in touch with others that could assist me. There are so many others that I could mention, like Dr. Ida Robinson who mentored me to think beyond my expectations and Dr. Mark Kiel whose door was always open to listen and advise. I can’t thank them enough for pushing me to be more than I had dreamed. There was never a crossroads in my life that these individuals did not stand as guideposts and help direct me to the better route.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

Students change in how they learn and engage in the classroom. If you want to stay current, you must innovate. When you care (as an instructor) and are engaged, you notice the good qualities about students and the things they need to work on beyond even the goals they set for themselves. I try to make sure I invest time and concern in all my students. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of teaching to those students who are engaged and always participate. Some students naturally catch on and are easy to work with. I try to focus attention on the students that are not as easy to reach and to pull them forward with the entire class.

At the beginning of each semester I engage with my classes and ask them how they want to learn – PowerPoints, smartboards or otherwise. There is a great deal of sharing and interaction that helps me to gauge what will work the best and it shapes the classes accordingly.

I try to develop an atmosphere of comradery and respect with my students; one in which they feel comfortable asking questions and engaging. I’m constantly asking them questions. It all leads to a better learning environment.

All of this positivity could lead one to believe I am that nice and easy teacher. I’ve never been accused of coddling. If they haven’t done their work or come to class prepared, it will be noticed. But I will congratulate them on doing well before I point out their underperforming areas. I try to give constructive criticism and help them develop a thicker skin so they will thrive in the very competitive corporate culture, should they choose to go that route. For their professional development, they need to hear the critical feedback. Genuine care and relationship enables them to hear the criticism and benefit from it.

 

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Dr. S. Charmaine McKissick-Melton | North Carolina Central University

Dr. S. Charmaine McKissick-Melton is an Associate Professor of Mass Communication in the Department of Mass Communication at North Carolina Central University. Dr. McKissick-Melton has been on the faculty at North Carolina Central University for nine years.

As shared in her teaching philosophy, “[she] is a high energy, attention to detail, organized, animated and communicative instructor. [She] is also caring and nurturing while being a deadline orientated, task driven teacher. [She] expects students to exercise rigor and relevance in all coursework, an essential requirement in 21st century learning. Effective communication, written, oral or non-verbal, is key to all success but especially true in the academic as well as the media environment.”

Marcus Christon, former student shared, “Dr. McKissick-Melton’s ability to connect with her students and her talent at teaching simple concepts, as well as more advanced topics, are both truly superior. Her interaction with students, her availability to answer questions (academic or personal), and her ability to provide the right amount of structure, allows students to illustrate independence.”

Dr. McKissick-Melton worked in the communications industry for ten years in radio and television sales and management. In 1992 she received the Coca- Cola Minority Fellowship at The University of Notre Dame, and taught a course titled “The Civil Rights Movement and Beyond.” She received the Lyman T. Johnson Research Teaching Fellow to work on a PhD in Mass Communication at The University of Kentucky. She later returned to Bennett College as an Associate Professor and former Chairperson of the Department of Journalism & Media Studies. At North Carolina Central University, she has served on the Faculty Senate, former Interim Chairperson for the Department of Mass Communication and was awarded the Teaching Excellence Award in May 2011.

As the youngest daughter of the late Judge Floyd B. McKissick, Sr., an attorney and civil right leader, she grew up in the midst of the civil rights movement which impacts her teaching style of engagement. Her educational philosophy is evidenced in everyday practice with the goal to help create critical thinkers, motivate, illicit confidence and provide a congenial atmosphere.

Dr. McKissick-Melton received her BA in Radio, TV and Film at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her MA in Speech Communication, specializing in Radio, TV, and Film at Northern Illinois University and her PhD in Mass Communication with a cognate area in Race Relations at The University of Kentucky.

Q&A with S. Charmaine McKissick-Melton

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

It is the ultimate culmination of my teaching career. I am very proud of the accomplishment. Teaching was not my original goal, but life brings you opportunities and I took many of them, which gave me the ability to become a professor with a Ph.D. as a single parent with two young sons. I thank God for the strength to continue when times were not easy. I made it through and try to tell my students they, too, can accomplish their goals if they work hard and believe in themselves.

Q. How was your career path shaped?

I originally desired to own a radio station, after beginning my career in radio and television sales and management. After a stint in broadcast journalism, I began teaching classes at North Carolina A&T State University and other universities before joining North Carolina Central University. I credit my parents and godmother, Hortense McClinton, the first black professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as my inspiration to become a successful professor.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I maintain a balanced classroom that keeps students actively engaged by spending a few minutes on African-American trivia and reviewing historic events at the beginning of class. I also use a “screens down” technique to classroom management, which means no electronic devices during instruction. During classroom instruction, I incorporate real-world experiences based on my career and those of other journalism industry professionals that invoke students to develop an entrepreneurial spirit. Teaching to the whole person and caring about student concerns is key to student success, therefore I express genuine respect for students’ identities and beliefs. If I give respect, I’m given it in return. Additionally, I practice holistic advising by having an open-door policy.

 

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Dr. Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo | North Carolina State University

Dr. Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Science, joined the faculty of North Carolina State University in 1999. Honored in 2012 as a NC State Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo is passionate about understanding the processes of teaching and learning Chemistry and sharing that understanding with all of her students.

In her teaching philosophy, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo states that she believes “students rise to the level they themselves realize they can reach and that all students deserve the best opportunities to learn.” This philosophy informs her development of classes whose primary goal is not about simply facilitating content but rather engendering positive attitudes in students that create environments conducive to improving the skills necessary for them to understand and master content. Dr. Christopher Gorman, Professor of Chemistry at NC State who has conducted numerous peer reviews of Dr. Oliver-Hoyo’s General Chemistry classes states that “I have come to understand her approaches to motivate students and to give them real pride in their scholarly performance.” Macelyn Batten, a former NC State student in Dr. Oliver-Hoyo’s Chemistry class writes that “Dr. Oliver always had her own way of captivating her student audience….and it was obvious that she was passionate about delivering the best possible education to her students….She became more than my teacher, she became my friend.”

Recognizing that large-scale classrooms have a direct impact on positive teacher/student interaction, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo used the existing SCALE-UP format (Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) in the College of Sciences to implement an activity-driven curriculum for General Chemistry. These hands-on, activity-rich and daily-life relevant activities have boosted student engagement, teacher/student interaction and enhanced student critical thinking skills in large-scale classes.

Dr. Laura Sremaniak, Teaching Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Chemistry states that Dr. Oliver-Hoyo’s “classroom effectiveness is her scholarship in Chemistry Education” and further noted the “tremendous impact it has had, especially on students whose knowledge and skills in Chemistry are marginal and for students who are disabled.” Recognizing that ALL students deserve the opportunity to learn, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo developed a multi-sensory learning environment that allows visually impaired students as well as full-sighted students to use each sense to build a more complex experience of a concept. With the help of undergraduate and graduate students at NC State, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo developed a number of experiments that exploit the sense of smell and allow visually impaired students to enjoy a hands-on study of chemical phenomena. These experiments are now used in national camps for blind students in the United States. By undertaking this effort, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo effectively combined mentoring students to innovate and develop effective new teaching methods, while providing access to educational opportunities for students with disabilities for whom these learning opportunities were previously limited. Dr. Oliver-Hoyo’s generous grant from the National Science Foundation has allowed her to continue her quest to understand and develop the most effective ways to promote visualization skills that are so essential to Chemistry instruction. While developing accessible undergraduate Chemistry courses, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo directs a unique graduate program in Chemistry Education Research (CER) that targets the design, development and assessment resources for Chemistry instruction with major emphasis on accessibility.

In addition to teaching, mentoring and scholarship, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo’s professional service on campus includes participation in the Hispanic Faculty and Mentoring Program, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), the Science House Podcast Project- “Expanding Your Horizons,” and acting as liaison for Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP).

While her contributions to Chemistry Education at NC State demonstrate sustained excellence, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo is also known as a world leader and one of the leading authors in Chemistry Education research. She has maintained an impressive external funding record with continuing grants from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Gorman states that Dr. Oliver-Hoyo received “strong support from people in her field” which helped her “navigate the harsh peer review process and obtain reviews that have put her work in the very top tier now required for successful funding.”

Beyond the borders of NC State, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo’s professional contributions in her field include multiple leadership positions in the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society. In an effort to broaden the depth and breadth of Chemistry Education, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo participated in the Chem Ed Task Force on the Hiring and Promotion/Tenure of Faculty in Chemical Education (2005-2008) and the ACS Exam Committee for the Diagnostic of Undergraduate Chemical Knowledge Examination (2006-2012). She recently accepted an appointment to the Board of Publications of the Journal of Chemistry Education (2016-present). Dr. Oliver-Hoyo is also an active member of the American Chemical Society, National Science Teachers Association, Iota Sigma Phi – National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry, Sigma Xi and Alpha Chi Sigma.

Dr. Oliver-Hoyo earned her BS in Chemistry (1981) from the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, MS in Chemistry (1984) from Georgetown University and PhD in Chemistry (1999) from Drexel University.

Q&A with Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

This is a great honor, and I am as appreciative of it as I am humbled by the selection. I think the establishment of this award is extremely important, especially at a research-extensive university like NC State, to remind us all that one of our primary missions is teaching. I was touched by the personal interest our chancellor took in reaching out to congratulate me and adding handwritten notes to the official notification letters.

Q. Is there a particular achievement in your career that makes you especially proud?

The top three recognitions of my career until now were receiving the NSF CAREER award in 2004, being elected chair of the Gordon Research Conference: Chemistry Education Research and Practice in 2013 and being honored as the 2012 Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor from NC State. Now this award tops the list! However, nothing has warmed my heart like some of my students’ emails or postcards letting me know something I did right for them. Most of the time they mention things I didn’t know would make a difference for them.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I am a fan of active learning methodologies — whether these are employed in formats such as SCALE-UP, or simply brought into the classroom environment in less structured ways — as long as these methods are used to engage students in participating more fully in the learning experience. It might not be easy for students to accept these more active (and demanding) methods, but I think it helps that from day one I share my expectations with them and take the time to discuss what it entails to be successful in the course. From there on it is a daily experience trying to get to know my students and to develop some rapport so that they strive to give their best.

 

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Heidi Kelley | University of North Carolina at Asheville

Heidi Kelley, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, has worked at the University of North Carolina at Asheville for 27 years. Her teaching philosophy brings together the scholarship of social anthropology with the lived experience of her students. Dr. Kelley strives to help students to see the world from another’s point of view, to learn to see how their own values and life choices are in fact culturally situated. Students are invited to not only understand their own positions relative to others, but to understand what she describes as “a different way of being in the world.”

Understanding lived experience is central to anthropology, and Dr. Kelley has drawn from her own life to inform and deepen her approach to teaching. In 1998 she suffered a massive stroke that initially left her speechless and unable to walk, but was able to return to work following intensive therapy. Rather than allow challenges of speech and mobility to impair her work in the classroom, Dr. Kelley has managed to turn these apparent limitations to her students’ benefit.

For many years, best practices in pedagogy have emphasized the need for more student-centered learning. As Donald L. Finkel (Teaching with Your Mouth Shut 2000), reminds us, teachers who engage through listening are often more effective than those who work primarily by telling. Dr. Kelley has built on this philosophy to develop an approach that allows students to “discover their knowledge for themselves.” Her excellence as a teacher stems in part from her careful design of assignments and experiences help students discover learning for themselves. Her classroom is a space where students learn to think and question in genuine ways about their lives and the lives of others.

Dr. Kelley’s impact extends beyond the scope of the classroom. As a faculty fellow of The Key Center for Service Learning, she offers regular partnerships between her students and the broader Asheville community. In 2013, she was a key participant in a community collaboration that brought together undergraduates with a local neighborhood in a series of forums and reading circles designed to prepare for Cornell West’s visit to our campus. Her scholarship further reflects how her work bridges the global and the local. Articles such as “Teaching Galacia in Appalachia: Lessons from Anthropology, Ethnographic Poetry, Documentary Photography and Political Theory” draw from her continuing fieldwork in Spain to demonstrate not only her interest in global intersections, but also her creative incorporation of poetry and photography in her teaching.

Dr. Heidi Kelley graduated with a BA from Lawrence University (1979) and earned her PhD in anthropology from the University of Washington (1988).

Q&A with Heidi Kelley

Q. Is there a particular achievement in your career that makes you especially proud?

In 1998 I had a massive stroke, which left me speechless and unable to walk or stand. After a year of intensive physical, speech and occupational therapy, I returned to the classroom culturally fortified with new insights into the making and unmaking of culture and the capacity of individuals and communities to deal with adversity and social disruption. Now my pedagogy is focused on teaching my students to understand not only different cultures but also different ways of being in the world.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I want my students to discover their knowledge for themselves. My class preparation time is devoted to choosing thought-provoking texts, crafting discussion questions that stimulate students’ thinking, and designing inspiring prompts for written work. I challenge my students to dig deep into both their own experience and our class texts to unlock the meanings of human experience — theirs and those of others. Thus, my teaching tactic is to gently steer my students to realize their own understanding of the material. I feel that the more hard-won the insights are, the more my students treasure this understanding.

Q. What do you feel is the most important thing you can pass on to your current students?

To strive to see the world from another person’s point of view is imperative. This principle of cultural relativism does not mean that students give up their values in my classroom but rather learn to see how their values are constructed and culturally situated. I want my students to learn the significance of where they come from while at the same time, recognizing and appreciating the significance of those different from themselves.

 

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Dr. Jane Thrailkill | The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Professor Jane Thrailkill is the Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During her seventeen years at the university, Professor Thrailkill has demonstrated a strong commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship. A leader in the medical humanities field, she has worked to cultivate the relationship between the humanities and the sciences both within and outside of the academy. Numerous examples demonstrate her efforts: she teaches courses in both the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the School of Medicine; she co-created a laboratory where students and faculty can collaborate on interdisciplinary research projects; and she directs the new graduate program, Literature, Medicine, and Culture.

In Professor Thrailkill’s words, she is “passionate about provoking students to think across traditional disciplinary boundaries.” Her courses challenge students to contemplate and converse critically about real world issues and the way in which cultural texts represent and shape matters of social, scientific, and political significance. As one student remarks, “not only was she unafraid to engage the class on topics relevant to students—such as sexual assault, race and gender relations—but she always linked the discussions with the course topic and materials.” Professor Thrailkill also writes of her commitment “to help students develop the analytical tools — along with the empathy and tact – for living in a complex, diverse, and risky world.” Numerous undergraduates note that she provided the means within and outside of the classroom for producing excellence in thinking, writing, and communicating from a humanist perspective. One future physician testifies to the lasting impact Professor Thrailkill has had on many students’ academic and professional futures: “She laid the foundation for what I hope to be a lifelong pursuit of the medical humanities and the compassionate, humanistic practice of medicine.”

Perhaps one of Professor Thrailkill’s greatest achievements is the inclusive classroom environment she creates. Students feel empowered to give voice to their own ideas, emotions, and concerns. A colleague states: “She has the ability to keep in mind the student’s feelings and model for anyone in the room a respect and commitment to learning even when it’s frustrating or difficult.” Students remark that she engages with them as an equal and listens attentively and responds thoughtfully to their diverse contributions. This regard for students follows Professor Thrailkill outside of the classroom where she operates as a mentor and confidant to students struggling with issues that often transcend the academic.

Professor Thrailkill is best captured in a few powerful words from her own students: “brilliant and accessible, demanding and supportive”, “generous”, “pragmatic”, “student-centered”, “effective”, and “innovative”. For all that these words can describe this beloved professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we award Professor Jane Thrailkill the 2017 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Professor Thrailkill holds a BA in English from Amherst College and an MA and PhD in English and American literature from The Johns Hopkins University.

Q&A with Jane Thrailkill

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

I am over the moon at receiving this award! Prior recipients from the English Department include Darryl Gless, Trudier Harris, Chris Armitage, Tom Stumpf, and Weldon Thornton. When I arrived at Carolina in 2000, fresh out of graduate school, this group of faculty was legendary for being great teachers, dedicated mentors, and supportive colleagues, as well. To me, adding my name to this long list of honored English professors affirms that literary study — and the liberal arts more broadly — is an area of persistent strength and importance at this great public University.

Q. Is there a particular achievement in your career that makes you especially proud?

I am especially proud of the work I’ve done in the field of health humanities. Health humanities enlists the creative and intellectual resources of the arts and humanities to affect practice — and reflect on concerns pertinent to — the health sciences. Working with colleagues in other departments, I’ve helped to start an honors minor and an M.A. concentration in literature, medicine, and culture. My colleague Jordynn Jack and I together founded HHIVE Lab (hhive.unc.edu), one of the first health humanities research labs in the country. I’ve found that students at Carolina have been energized by classes that use literature to explore the experiential dimensions of sickness, disability, and human mortality. One pre-med student delighted me by saying, “It’s a funny thing to realize that my undergrad class most relevant to medicine wasn’t biology but a literature course!” As Chancellor Folt has emphasized, our undergraduates are hungry for educational experiences that connect them to the world beyond the classroom.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I use everything at my disposal when I teach students: nothing is off the table. In any given class I cajole, query, listen, lecture, quote, joke, play devil’s advocate, and generally harangue my students into conversation about the literature we’re studying. I draw on other media, often pulling in clips from films or current newspaper headlines to point up recurrent themes. The primary analytical technique is close reading, careful attention to an illuminating stanza or passage in a literary work.

We’re doing all of the above right now with the North Carolina author Charles Chesnutt. My American literature students are reading his astonishing novel, The Marrow of Tradition, about the 1898 Wilmington coup d’état. Close reading allows us to see how Chesnutt uses free indirect discourse to make readers inhabit the points of view of characters from different races. We then move from close reading to larger questions, paradoxes, and insights: how could white supremacy hold sway during a time — the Progressive Era in U.S. history — when attention to reform and race relations was a societal priority? My students have had extraordinary things to say about Chesnutt’s depiction of fearfulness and misrecognition, as compared to the recent horror film Get Out. These moments are thrilling for me as an educator: when I see my students, through the study of literary history, becoming engaged, insightful readers of our current cultural moment.

Q. What do you feel is the most important thing you can pass on to your current students?

One of my most profound teaching experiences at UNC-Chapel Hill took place on September 11, 2001, with a group of first-year students. I walked into my 9:30 class barely an hour after planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Shaken up and uncertain, I asked my stunned students (including three Muslims) if we should hold class, and they were unanimous that we should. What followed was a difficult discussion in which we all talked about our shock, fear, and sadness. We began the process of trying to understand what seemed to defy our capacity to do so. That powerful, impromptu conversation helped me, then a newly minted Ph.D., to see the classroom as a space to help students develop the analytical tools — along with the empathy and tact — for living in a complex, diverse, and risky world. The importance of skilled communication, of understanding divergent points of view, of facing difficulty and uncertainty, of looking beyond the obvious, of tolerating ambiguity, of acknowledging our feelings and frailties: I believe strongly that these are some qualities of mind and heart that humanistic study can help to foster.

 

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Dr. Matthew Davies | University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Since joining the UNC Charlotte faculty 15 years ago in 2001, Dr. Matthew Davies, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science, has always striven to provide students with a classroom environment that maximizes learning while promoting self-confidence and ethics in the practice of engineering and research. His approach, aimed at the expansion of knowledge, technical capability, and understanding of mechanical and optical engineering principles, is learner-centered and relies on continuous feedback between teacher and student.

One of the ways that Dr. Davies solicits feedback and encourages the open exchange of ideas in his classroom is through the establishment of a voluntary Class Improvement Committee (CIC) for each course. Comprised of five to seven student volunteers, the CIC surveys the entire class and suggests ways to structure the course. The committee’s feedback influences everything from the choice of textbook to the appropriate time for office hours. Not only does this process allow Dr. Davies to adjust to the needs of students by emphasizing concepts that are most difficult for them, it also focuses on cooperative learning as a way of making the course more effective.

Dr. Davies uses a combination of classroom demonstrations, lecture notes, and online videos to introduce his students to complex concepts. His goal is for students to leave his classroom trusting their intuition but also developing the analytical skills to support that intuition. For Dr. Davies, the key to engineering education is connecting mathematical solutions to real world phenomena. For this reason, he involves undergraduates in his own research projects. He also holds extensive review sessions for students to solidify their understanding of course material. Dr. Scott Smith, Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science, stated “I have personally observed several of Dr. Davies’ well-attended review sessions. They are truly outstanding. I have seen so many students have “light bulb moments” during those reviews. I returned several times myself, even though I know the material, just because it was so interesting to hear Dr. Davies’ insights.”

As a mentor, Dr. Davies treats student design teams like an engineering dynamics problem. “They are akin to controlling a dynamic system that is very maneuverable, can tap into a boundless energy source, but is inherently unstable. Undergraduate teams harness tremendous energy, creativity and idealism, and allow students to develop their extremely novel ideas with only occasional prodding in the right direction.” One of Dr. Davies’ students and mentees, senior Mechanical Engineering major Paul Anderson, states that “while taking his class, I was inspired by Dr. Davies’ charisma, wealth of knowledge and positive attitude toward teaching students. As a team mentor, Dr. Davies continues to provide excellent feedback on our design and is always pitching ideas to increase its efficiency.”

Dr. Davies earned his PhD and MS from Cornell University, and his BS from Carnegie Mellon University. He was the 2005 recipient of The William States Lee College of Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award and the 2007 recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching.

Q&A with Matthew Davies

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

I teach because I love it. I love seeing new understanding and new insights come to students as I try different ways of explaining things to them in different ways until it finally breaks through. The Board of Governor's Teaching Award is a recognition that my love for teaching actually has an impact on my students, my university and the entire UNC system. I do not teach for awards, but an award like this indicates to me that I am making a difference in a way that means the most to me.

Q. How was your career path shaped?

My father, Dr. John Davies, who taught Physics at Clark University in Worcester MA for 35 years was the most influential person in leading me on the path to become an educator. After graduate school, I was first employed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a large government research laboratory in Gaithersburg MD. At NIST, my work was entirely laboratory research and I enjoyed it; in fact, I thought that was what I wanted to continue to do for my entire lifetime. However, in 1996 I was on a train going back to Massachusetts to visit my parents, and across from me sat a college-aged "kid". We started a conversation, and somehow I told him my last name. He said "Davies, ... are you Dr. Davies son? Dr. Davies at Clark University?" When I said yes, he got even more excited, saying "Dr. Davies is wonderful! He changed my life!" Knowing my father as a shy reserved man, I said "you do mean Dr. John Davies ... right?" He said "yes, he has been one of the most influential people in my life!" At that instant I knew that I wanted to go back and teach, to have the kind of influence on people was something I could not do in a laboratory. This is what eventually led me to UNC Charlotte. My father died in 2010, but frequently I remember that conversation, my father, and why I am here. It keeps me grounded.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

My teaching goal is to provide students with a classroom environment that maximizes learning, while promoting self-confidence and ethics in the practice of engineering and research. My approach, while aimed at the expansion of knowledge, technical capability, and understanding of mechanical and optical engineering principles, is learner-centered and in particular it encourages continuous feedback between teacher and student: what is working and what is not? This exchange of ideas is accomplished partly through a voluntary Class Improvement Committee (CIC), and helps me continuously improve all of my courses throughout the semester by adapting to the needs of individual classes and individual students. This process creates an effective, productive and cooperative learning environment where I and the students can work together to maximize learning.

 

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Dr. Sharon Morrison | University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Empowerment for action: for Dr. Sharon Morrison, this refrain defines the scope and aim of every course she teaches, the motive at the heart of her research, and the goal of her institutional and community engagement. Dr. Morrison recognizes that learning is a unique experience, one that requires a student to bring and use their background and personal knowledge to build their intellectual proficiency and professional competency and to develop into lifelong learners. Students are participant learners for Dr. Morrison…Service Learners in her lexicon…and their individual perspectives serve as a classroom tool set for the intellectual growth of all. Always humble, Dr. Morrison claims simply to facilitate the learning process, but she does much more. In her fifteen years of service at UNCG, Sharon Morrison has demonstrated an unshakable, passionate commitment to her students – undergraduate and graduate -- and to their growth as scholars.

Dr. Morrison is exceptionally proud of her students, and when speaking with her she will quickly recount their great efforts and accomplishments. Dr. Morrison’s creativity as a professor is highlighted by her fearless adoption of multiple pedagogical techniques and methods, from the classic Socratic Method to more cutting edge modern on-line opportunities. Her Service Learning International Health and Immigrant and Refugee Health courses provide distinctive Service-Learning opportunities. In these courses, students align classroom theory with the practice of real world challenges. These courses possess that “boots on the ground” attitude that exemplifies the essence of a ‘Dr. Sharon Morrison course’ -- an immersive experience that simply demands intellectual growth. Students have participated on home-based care visits with HIV affected families in Africa. Students have worked in the Montagnard community and implemented a health fair with health education classes for immigrant families. In the Summer of 2016, Dr. Morrison brought her students far into the field, travelling to Malaysia with students so that they could witness and learn first-hand the peril and trials of the hidden refugee community. As one student has noted, ‘Traveling to Malaysia has by far been the greatest learning experience I have been involved in. Learning about the refugee process in class and what it's like from the Stateside point of view is one thing, but to be physically in an area witnessing what was being taught in class and putting it into a real life setting, was extremely eye opening.’

Dr. Morrison’s students are indelibly marked with the ebullience, courage, ingenuity, and dedication that she displays. A former student states this most eloquently … ‘Dr. Morrison inspires me to continue her legacy of challenging students in a way that opens their eyes to the realities of our world and empowers them to engage it and make a true difference. I am deeply grateful for the passion that she fueled in me, that will drive the work I do for the rest of my life…. Dr. Morrison not only made me believe that I was capable of changing the world but she equipped me the tools I need to achieve my dreams.’

Dr. Sharon Morrison received her B.S. in Biology from Barry University (1988), a Masters in Public Health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (1990), and a Masters in Public Health Education(1994) and a PhD in Health Behavior from the University of Florida with a Graduate Certificate in Latin and Caribbean Studies (1998). She joined the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2001 in the Department of Public Health Education and is currently an Associate Professor.

Q&A with Sharon Morrison

Q. Is there a particular achievement in your career that makes you especially proud?

I am especially proud of the large number of first generation, underrepresented minorities and language-diverse students I have been privileged to mentor over the years. Several shoulder responsibilities for immediate and extended family who have migrated or resettled to the U.S. and must thrive in an unfamiliar society. Some are attending graduate and professional school. Several participated in high-impact learning activities such as community-engaged research with local, ethnically diverse, and underserved communities. These young people are extremely talented, often serving as cultural brokers and cultural experts, and educating us (academics), not just about needs but also about resiliency and courage.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I provide distinctive opportunities for students to map theoretical knowledge and concepts with “real world” challenges. For example, students enrolled in my public health education courses have opportunities to shadow interpreters and community health workers on home-based care visits with HIV-affected families in a study-abroad experience. Students have organized and implemented a health fair to address health literacy for immigrant families in our Triad community. In these instances, students learn how to put “boots to the ground” and take ownership of their learning processes in order to build professional competencies.

Q. How does your institution support great teaching?

UNCG has invested in an excellent Teaching and Learning Commons that has served us well over the years. I have received funding four course development as well as attended workshops sponsored by the University Teaching & Learning Commons. The School of Health and Human Sciences has been supportive of teaching by organizing an Office of Educational Innovation and Design with a team of instructional consultants that are extremely dedicated to faculty teaching needs. My department continues to organize faculty development geared towards improving.

 

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Dr. Cherry Maynor Beasley | University of North Carolina at Pembroke

On behalf of the Faculty Awards Committee at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, it gives me great pleasure to submit our choice for the 2017 Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence, Dr. Cherry Maynor Beasley. The Committee believes that there is no other faculty member more deserving of this award on the UNCP campus than Dr. Beasley. Bestowing this honor to Dr. Beasley marks a first for our university and will engender great pride in the community at large. Dr. Beasley is the first Native American to receive the Board of Governors’ Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017 which marks one hundred and thirty years since the founding of UNCP. She is also the Anne R. Belk Endower Professor of Nursing.

Her impact on the field of nursing extended far and wide in the community has made a direct contribution to the health profession and well-being of the residents of our state. In the words of a former student, now administrator on Scotland County’s Health Care System, “Dr. Cherry Beasley’s influence in the community and university arena will forever have a mark on those that have had the great opportunity to work with her. She continues to mentor me and provide guidance and advice on an ongoing basis.” This sort of professional relationships that extend beyond the classroom is not uncommon for Dr. Beasley as evidenced by the letters of support for her nomination. Students wrote of her enduring relationship as a role model with women and Native Americans in the community at large, and cited the fact that she was the first female Native American in North Carolina to receive a PhD in Nursing.

Student response to Dr. teaching has few limits in their amount praise. A common refrain from students is that her mentoring and research with students exceeds standards of the most dedicated colleagues on our campus. In reading her letters of support, it was difficult to imagine that they addressed only one person. One student comments on her “innate ability” to connect with students and form relationships of respect. This was evident when I observed her in the classroom teaching research methods to nursing students. Her course material took on life with practical as well as clinical seamlessly to illustrate the practice of survey research. I have over twenty years of experience in the university classroom, and I admired how easily it may have looked to an observer while knowing the difficult feat that she was pulling off in front of my eyes.

I also want to close with a personal experience that reveals Dr. Beasley’s humility and dedication to the community. During Hurricane Matthew when trying to catch up with as many colleagues as I could to inquire about their safety, I located Dr. Beasley volunteering in a shelter for those displaced from the storm in spite of her living in Lumberton, one of the town’s worst affected at the time. While I was moved by her spirit to put others first, I was not surprised to find her helping others in that manner. Dr. Beasley is long overdue to receive this award.

Roger Guy, PhD
Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice
Chair, Faculty Awards Committee

Q&A with Cherry Maynor Beasley

Q. How was your career path shaped?

I started as a nurse educator at the encouragement of my family. As a member of a family of educators, I seemed to view every context as a “great learning situation.” The connection between learning and teaching is a direct association for me.

Most often of the situations that have contributed to my learning were available because someone has been willing to share their knowledge and experiences. Thus my willingness to teach is my way of honoring them and following their lead. I can't think of a professor who didn't contribute to my path. But, it has been my community, students and patients who have had the most influence on my path as an educator.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

Humans have natural curiosity. As an educator, my greatest challenge is to help rekindle or encourage that spark, to help the student be open to the state of not knowing and mastering the skills needed to learn. When constructing a class session, my most difficult challenge is to develop the context for learning and then provide the students with the support needed to learn.

Often, it seems that we, as educators, have damped the curiosity and taught students that learning and memory are synonymous concepts. Thus, the need for the educator to stimulate and encourage understanding, to broaden students' horizons.

Q. What do you feel is the most important thing you can pass on to your current students?

Actually, I consider two principles important to the engage in continuous learning. First, learning is an active, cooperative process for which the outcomes should be action. Not only does the learner expend a great deal of energy learning but others do as well. The learner is engaged and supported in the process by a community of scholars (be they current or from antiquity) and by the society in which we live that invest in one’s learning. The clear outcome of learning is doing something with it that continues the process -- being that scholarly, supportive community for others and investing back in the society that supported the learning.

The second principle is akin to the first if the goal is continuous learning. The learner should be willing to make a mistake. If we only complete what we can do perfectly, we are not learning, growing, changing. I have learned more from my mistakes than I can recall. But to grow from one’s mistakes, one must reflect and use that reflection to change.

 

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Caroline M. Clements | University of North Carolina at Wilmington

The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s nominee for the 2017 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching is Caroline M. Clements, Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology. For twenty years Dr. Clements has taught a wide variety of courses from freshman to senior level.

The recipient of a UNCW Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award, a Distinguished Teaching Professorship Award, a Board of Trustees Teaching Excellence Award, and a J. Marshall Crews Distinguished Faculty Award, Dr. Clements is a gifted teacher, scholar, and mentor.

Dr. Clements identifies three characteristics she values most in teaching: community, care, and continuous reinvention.  She writes: “I believe that teaching is fundamentally a relational enterprise. Students need teachers because learning occurs within the context of a relationship. Students learn when teachers genuinely care about their learning and create a community with a common ethos derived from that care. The extent to which I connect with students and the manner in which I convey my care for their learning and the subject matter sets the stage for the unique community that each of my classes becomes. My job is to set the stage for what will be a caring and connected learning community the first day of class, and to nurture it as it evolves.”

A former student writes: “Looking back, I had no idea that Dr. Clements would have the impact on my life and career that she has had. I not only learned the many skills needed to be successful in my job, I also learned integrity, hard work, perseverance, and creative problem solving. Even more, I learned many of the valuable lessons I now use as the Clinical Director of my agency including respect for others, assessment of others’ skills sets, how to help others achieve their goals, and most importantly how to teach.”

Recognized for her many and far-reaching contributions to her students and to faculty and departmental administrators through her work as Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, Dr. Clements is considered an exceptional teacher of students and teachers who is also a practicing clinical psychologist.

Colleagues note that her mentoring of students has produced dozens of co-authored, peer-reviewed articles and an “unbroken string of students . . . ushered into top doctoral programs in an incredibly competitive field.” She also created a three-day orientation for new faculty which includes a “Roads Scholars Tour” that takes them to community-based research sites to see firsthand how they might engage the local community in their work. As part of her own community engagement, she maintains a small private practice and supervises other area clinicians. The research she conducts in interpersonal violence has resulted not only in substantial external funding for the university, but also in regular invitations to speak and assist with crisis intervention training at local groups including the Cape Fear Psychological Association and New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Clements earned a BA, MS, and PhD in psychology at Northwestern University.

Q&A with Caroline M. Clements

Q. How was your career path shaped?

My five brothers and sisters and I were raised by a single mom in a very rural and poor community. My mother was a teacher who went to night school to become a principal. Her example taught me that education was the way out. She gave me her Introduction to Psychology book when I was 11. I read it and knew I would be a psychologist. Teaching itself must have been genetic because I am terrified of public speaking but have always enjoyed teaching. Teaching is like having a great conversation with cool people who ask great questions.

Q. Is there a particular achievement in your career that makes you especially proud?

I keep a file called “Notes to Sustain Us in Times of Troubles.” Most of the notes are outrageous excuses for late papers, missing papers and the like. One student’s father wrote a different type of note. I taught that student and helped him get help to overcome a serious addiction problem. His father sent me that note the day his son got his master’s degree. It still brings tears to my eyes. When teaching gets tough, I read that note to remind me that what I do matters, even on the toughest days.

Q. What do you feel is the most important thing you can pass on to your current students?

I tell all my students that college is the only time they will be surrounded by experts dedicated to helping them understand themselves and their world. I want them to be aware of and grateful for that privilege. I want students to understand that college is not hard if they are there to learn rather than make a grade. I also tell them that they have not experienced college until they have been to at least one protest. If you don’t protest you don’t believe in anything and people who don’t believe in anything lead sad lives indeed.

 

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Dr. Joseph Mills | North Carolina School of the Arts

Currently the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at the UNC School of the Arts, Dr. Joseph Mills teaches humanities and writing courses and has served on the faculty of the Division of Liberal Arts for 18 years. He has published six collections of poetry, including the recent Shakespearian-themed Exit, Pursued By a Bear. His writing awards include the 2015 North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for This Miraculous Turning.

Numerous colleagues and students weighed in on what they identified as the elements that make Dr. Mills such a successful teacher, offering the following thoughts, among others:

“Students carry the critical and creative thinking practices of the course well beyond the classroom, expanding the value through interchanges with others. Their work with Dr. Mills helps them love powerful ideas, great writing, and to see that they might find those kinds of ideas and writing in unexpected parts of our culture, so they better keep their eyes open.”
“Dr. Mills leads his classrooms with a gentle, relaxed hand. He will state, very simply, what he intends to teach and why he thinks it is worth teaching. He understands that he cannot force a student to learn. He waits patiently instead, remaining ever ready for that student who shows an interest. And then, when that student does work, he reciprocates.
He will look at their work with care and give his real, considered opinion. When he gives his opinion it’s clear that he actually cared; assessing student’s work is not merely an obligation, but a real chance to communicate with them. And that’s why Dr. Mills isn’t afraid of the messy reality. He doesn’t teach according to any method or process. He looks at every student as an individual and treats him or her with the respect of equals. When you’re in one of Dr. Mills’ classes, you feel like a valued participant.”

Dr. Mills’ process, in which he relies on a careful balance of teaching, coaching, and student autonomy, brings out the best in his students. As he describes it, “I hope that I give my students the material and create an environment to get them fermenting, then I try to get out of the way… I don’t know what they’ll bring in or what they’ll say (and this makes me anxious), but usually I’m struck by their curiosity, intelligence, and creativity when given the space.”

Dr. Mills holds a PhD in English from the University of California-Davis, an MA in English from the University of New Mexico, and a BA in English from the University of Chicago. In addition to publishing numerous pieces of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism, he has researched and written two editions of A Guide to North Carolina’s Wineries and edited a collection of film criticism, A Century of the Marx Brothers. His teaching was previously recognized with a campus Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003.

Q&A with Joseph Mills

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

One of the great pleasures of receiving this award has been the number of students who have contacted me with stories or comments about their time in my courses. They still remember and value certain books, for example considering Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin lifelong companions. They share the writing they are doing now (and often publishing). They say, “I’ve never forgotten when you said....” It’s humbling to realize how influential a teacher can be.

Q. How was your career path shaped?

I was the first person in my family to go college. Although I didn’t admit it, I was scared and felt out of my depth, and I hid this with a defensive, even obnoxious, attitude. But my professors gave me the great gift of listening to me and taking me seriously. They treated me as if what I had to say was worthy of attention, which doesn’t mean they praised it or accepted it without qualifications. They questioned me, criticized me, put me on the spot, and made me justify my positions. They demonstrated that what happened in a classroom was serious and worthy of our energies. I try to do the same.

When I stepped in front of the classroom as a graduate student, I discovered that I loved it. Here was a chance to talk about books, ideas, and works that mattered. Here was a chance to think deeply and fully about our lives and world. What a wonderful opportunity. I continue to think that.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students? Please explain what helps you connect with students.

I teach because I want to learn. For some students this can be disconcerting. They want to sit back and have me tell them what they need to know. But I want us to explore and discover works and ideas together. I think I know what I think, but when I hear what they think, it may change what I think. This is what happens in an honest exchange of ideas. I teach by conversation. I try to connect the classroom material to daily lives. To me, the classroom walls are the scaffolding of the education; take them away and the education still continues on.

 

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Dr. Julie Johnson-Busbin | Western Carolina University

Dr. Julie Johnson-Busbin, Western Carolina University’s 2017 winner of the Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award, is a Professor in the Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Sport Management, and Hospitality & Tourism School in the College of Business. She joined the WCU faculty in 1996. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. from Georgia State University and her B.A. from Southeastern Louisiana University. Dr. Johnson-Busbin is a winner of the College of Business’ Kneedler Professor of Excellence Award and a fourtime winner of the Board of Governors’ Creative and Innovative Teaching Award.

Dr. Johnson-Busbin’s teaching philosophy and pedagogical goals focus on engaging students in purposeful and context-driven classes. She encourages students to participate in activities that provide real-world experiences, and she employs a pedagogy that affords students the opportunity to try new and learned skills through role-playing exercises, to reflect on their performance, and consistently to try again. Dr. Johnson-Busbin takes pride in helping students succeed in the business world by pushing them to reach their full potential. Her teaching methods, which include amalgamating theory with classroom praxis reveal her profound desire to support her students. She measures her success by determining the degree of positive influence she has on her student’s thoughts and feelings. Despite her large class sizes, she takes the time to provide meaningful feedback and words of encouragement to each individual. Dr. Johnson-Busbin’s efforts to foster excellence in teaching shine in her unequivocal dedication to her students.

Colleagues in Dr. Johnson-Busbin’s department applaud her performance as a teacher who ensures her students are educated through well-rounded declaring, Julie not only works with students in her courses, but also outside class to prepare them for sales careers and that “she has an excellent rapport with her students and does an outstanding job in motivating them to perform their best.” Dr. Johnson-Busbin’s former department head also commends her accomplishments in and out of the classroom, including working as an active member in the academy, producing fruitful scholarship, and acting as an advocate for students in the business world.

WCU alumni now employed in the business community include former students working for companies such as E*TRADE Financial Corp, UPS, Sherwin-Williams, IBM, and LabCorp rave about Dr. Johnson-Busbin’s performance as a teacher and her impact on their success as students and as professionals. Former student Scott Whatley, president of E*Trade, praises Dr. Johnson-Busbin as a prepares students for the realities of the real world. Another graduate notes that the education she received from Dr. Johnson-Busbin has stayed with her and allowed her to grow continually within her field, affirming “Dr. Johnson-Busbin instilled something in me that can never be taken away, and that I will only be able to build on from here on out.” From the praise of her colleagues and the commendation from her former students, it is clear that Dr. Johnson-Busbin embodies a true success in teaching.

Q&A with Julie Johnson-Busbin

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

To engage students, I utilize teaching methods that revolve around presenting information in relevant contexts and demonstrating how the material is applicable to students’ professional and personal lives. I like to push students when they haven’t reached as far as they are capable, yet provide support when they’ve stretched as far as they are able. My goal is to provide opportunities that afford students the chance to try new skills, receive feedback, critique themselves, and try again. I employ methods that focus on hands-on experiences which meld classroom learning, theory and practice into an educational opportunity that prepares students to succeed in the business world.

Q. What do you feel is the most important thing you can pass on to your current students?

I believe the most important thing I can pass on to my students is to give them insight into the individual attributes and abilities they possess that make them unique. I make a conscious effort to speak words that have a positive influence on how they think and feel about themselves and in doing so, turn their focus to their distinct strengths. I am humbled to have the opportunity to speak into my students’ lives and to encourage them to walk in their potential. I attempt to be ever mindful of the responsibility I have as a teacher and try to be careful with the words I speak. For me, teaching is not about transmitting information; rather it is about transforming individuals.

Q. How does your institution support great teaching?

Western Carolina University has a culture that values great teaching, which motivates us to excel. Most of what I’ve learned about teaching has come from interacting with my colleagues. We have open and honest conversations about what works in the classroom and what does not. Additionally, we are encouraged to take risks in the classroom to improve teaching and are applauded when they work, yet supported when they do not. We also are given numerous opportunities to develop our teaching through the Coulter Faculty Commons for Excellence in Teaching & Learning, which provides tremendous support for faculty, ranging from one-on-one consultations to frequent workshops and the annual Summer Institute for Teaching and Learning.

 

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Dr. Donna Gwyn Wiggins | Winston-Salem State University

Dr. Donna Gwyn Wiggins is an Associate Professor in the Department of Music. She has served as a faculty member at Winston-Salem State University for 16 years. She teaches Music Activities in the Elementary School to pre-professional elementary educators, Principles and Methods of Teaching Music in the Elementary Classroom for pre-professional music educators, and supervises pre-clinical and clinical student experiences. In addition, Dr. Wiggins contributes to the General Education curriculum instructing students in Afro-American Music and Liberal Learning seminars.

Dr. Wiggins believes that music is an experiential art that appeals to both the cognitive and affective domains; thus, it is essential that learner-centered theories permeate instructional design. Students praise her ability to infuse high impact practices into her teaching. As one of her students notes, “The way she delivers the content is not only unique, but she does it in a way that grabs your attention and forces you to participate. She pushes us to not only be good students, but to also be upstanding people.” Another student adds: ““She is not only a great instructor who makes learning exciting, but she motivates her students to strive for excellence. I was also impressed with the fact she allows her students to experience what she teaches outside of the classroom. On one occasion, she took students, including myself, to a concert that dealt with the musical genre we were discussing in the curriculum. I was so thrilled to know that my professor cared enough about her students to ensure that what she was teaching was realistically tangible.”

Dr. Wiggins’ impact as a teacher and grant-funded researcher extends beyond the campus in such ways as providing arts education experiences for underrepresented youth in community music settings; incorporating undergraduate research assistants into her early childhood center studies on the music and literacy connection; supporting student-derived music service projects with special populations; and promoting creative aging performance activities in the African American senior community through research and service.

Dr. Wiggins served on the National Standard Setting Team for the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Standard Setting Study on PRAXIS II in Music at Princeton, New Jersey, the Expert External Review Team for The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL), University of Washington at Seattle, and the Professional Development Staff of Smart Start of Forsyth County. She is published in peer-reviewed journals and books and presents at state, division, and national conferences on music and urban education, music education curriculum development, and the impact of music on learning in early childhood settings. She is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the North Carolina Music Educators Association, and the Winston-Salem Piano Teachers Association.

Dr. Wiggins received her BM degree in Music Theory and Composition and MST degree in Music Education from Georgia Southern University (1979, 1985) as a Georgia Regents Scholar. She received the PhD in Curriculum and Supervision from the University of Iowa (1997) where she was a member of the inaugural class of Holmes Group Scholars.

Q&A with Donna Gwyn Wiggins

Q. The Teaching Awards underscore the importance and support good teaching within the University. What does this award mean to you?

I am extremely humbled to have been named a recipient of this prestigious award. This award is a reminder that the important work we do on the 17 constituent campuses of the UNC system does not go unnoticed.

Q. How was your career path shaped? Was there a particular instructor or professor who helped shape your path to becoming an educator?

My father, a first-generation college graduate and teacher/high school guidance counselor, inspired me to teach. His hunger to learn as a boy in the cotton fields of Georgia taught me to appreciate the privilege of learning and value the opportunity to positively impact young lives.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I teach with group engagement in mind because music is a cooperative art. Engagement yields experience, and experience yields understanding toward learning. My teaching methods appeal to the millennial population via such high impact practices such as Four-Corner Debates, online forums via cell phone technology such as TodaysMeet.com, online feedback programs, such as Kahoot.com, use of Word Clouds to capture student thought, attendance at local performances relevant to course work, student-centered research and creative activity, and real-life experiences in the larger community.

 

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Robert Gotwals | North Carolina School of Science and Math

Master educator, computational scientist, Naval officer, Braille instructor, American Sign Language interpreter/teacher – Robert Gotwals, an Instructor of Chemistry, Computational Science and Research at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, has brought an insatiable work ethic and passion for learning and teaching to both NCSSM Residential and Online students across the state. Over the past ten years, Mr. Gotwals has developed the most comprehensive secondary program in the computational sciences in the nation; with courses that include computational chemistry, bioinformatics, medicinal chemistry, and research.

Mr. Gotwals endeavors to help students think computationally; looking at scientific problems from a mathematical and computer science perspective. Mr. Gotwals’ approach ensures his students are directly engaged in the authentic use of computational modeling in the sciences; typically with the same research-grade computing tools used by professional researchers, including supercomputing.

Both at NCSSM and in his previous work at the Shodor Education Foundation, Mr. Gotwals has a national reputation in the computational sciences for high school students. He has developed active collaborations with a variety of external organizations, including a 10-year partnership with the Jackson Laboratory, an NIH-funded mouse genomics research lab; a collaboration with the Jakubikova Computational Chemistry Lab at North Carolina State University; as well as ongoing academic relationships with both the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment. He has served as a reviewer for National Science Foundation proposals, and has publications in a variety of peer-reviewed journals. He has made numerous presentations at professional conferences, primarily through the American Chemical Society; and participated in a number of NSF-funded research programs, at the University of Richmond, Appalachian State University, and North Carolina State University.

At NCSSM, Mr. Gotwals has been engaged in all areas of campus life. He has repeatedly led a Mini-Term experience for students to hike 50 miles on the Appalachian Trail in February. He has also taught Seminars and Mini-Term courses in American Sign Language, Braille, and beekeeping. He has served on the Faculty Senate, participated in numerous school-wide committees, and was on the strategic planning working group for NCSSM’s new western campus. He has actively participated in scientific competitions, including the NASA micro-gravity program, the Ocean Science Bowl, the Conrad Spirit of Innovation competition, the Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. He is a frequent attendee at athletic and fine arts events, and also serves as NCSSM’s beekeeper and on-call sign language interpreter.

In all aspects of his work at NCSSM – teacher, mentor, scholar, collaborator, and colleague – Mr. Robert Gotwals has proven himself a superlative candidate for the UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award.

Mr. Gotwals earned a BS in Chemistry from East Carolina, and a joint MSEd in Science Education and Deaf Education from the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Q&A with Robert Gotwals Jr.

Q. As an educator, what teaching methods do you use to engage students?

I think they see that I’m passionate about computational science, and a number of them have caught that particular “bug” from me. I think that the discipline has something for everyone -- the science students, the math students, and the computer science students -- that makes it an “easy sell.” We engage each other in the discipline, and the discipline serves as a rallying point for lots of interesting interactions!

Q. What do you feel is the most important thing you can pass on to your current students?

The value of books and reading. Perhaps that reflects my own personal learning style, which tends towards autodidacticism. That and the importance of lifelong learning, as much as a cliche that might be. I’m nearing the end of my career, and I’m still as excited about learning new stuff as I was 40 years ago.

Q. How does your institution support great teaching?

NCSSM is nimble enough academically to allow faculty to teach to their strengths, and that benefits not only the faculty member but more importantly, the kids. For example, I’ve developed courses in computational chemistry, computational medicinal chemistry, computational biology/bioinformatics, scientific programming, and an introductory computational science course. Developing even one course a regular high school would be difficult, given the constraints from various quarters (including high stakes testing). Being supported to develop the wide range of courses that have led to this award would simply not be possible at any place other than a school like NCSSM.

 

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