Faculty recognized for excellence in teaching
Excellence in teaching at East Carolina University was celebrated during the annual Teaching Awards Ceremony in Harvey Hall on Monday, April 9. Faculty members representing departments and programs throughout the university were honored for their work with students inside and outside the classroom.
The faculty members presented with awards were nominated for their engagement with students in research, excellence in distance education and exceptional teaching abilities. Many of the presenters and honorees mentioned the influence educators from their past played in their lives.
“I suspect if we had time to go around and ask, we would say our journey to be a part of higher education started with great teachers,” said Chancellor Cecil P. Staton during his remarks welcoming those in attendance.
Dr. Jami Rhodes was named the recipient of the Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest honor of the evening. Rhodes, an associate professor of voice in the School of Music in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, returned to teach at ECU after graduating from the university in 2001.
During her acceptance presentation, Rhodes explained the unusual challenge her students face playing an instrument they can’t see. She said teaching freshmen how to train and manipulate the muscles they can’t see to make beautiful sounds with their voice leads to those “ah-ha” moments each year.
“Watching them figure this out is interesting and wonderful and the most fun part of my job. When they get it, it’s better than any paycheck,” she said.
During her speech, Rhodes also recalled a time when a student needed emotional support because the death of a family member was imminent.
“It’s in those times teaching becomes about humanity and compassion and doing what we need to do for our students. And those are the moments that remind us that this is more than just a career, it’s a calling and it’s a gift and it’s important,” said Rhodes.
Rhodes was selected from a group of eight nominees. Other faculty nominated were:
Eboni Baugh, Department of Human Development and Family Science
Kermit G. Buckner Jr., Department of Educational Leadership
David Knox, Department of Sociology
Kenneth R. MacLeod, Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management
Deborah M. Thomas, School of Communication
Brenda Wells, Department of Finance
David S. Wilson-Okamura, Department of English
Several awards were presented during the evening, including the Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award.
“These faculty bring a wealth of experience to their teaching. Some teach very large classes but all find ways to engage their students in active learning,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Ron Mitchelson during the presentation.
The award was presented to six ECU faculty members nominated by their colleagues, and each recipient received $1,000 from the UNC System.
Elizabeth Ables, Department of Biology
Ricky Castles, Department of Engineering
Allison S. Danell, Department of Chemistry
Teal Darkenwald, School of Theatre and Dance
Joy Karriker, Department of Management
Gerald J. Prokopowicz, Department of History
Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations Heath Bowman presented three awards on behalf of the ECU Alumni Association. Units selected full-time faculty members as nominees, and a selection committee chose the winners.
The Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Teaching was presented to Dr. William Staub III of the School of Music and Alison Swift in the Department of Baccalaureate Education in the College of Nursing. The alumni association also presented the Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching to Dr. Kate Taylor Harcourt, Department of Human Development and Family Science.
The Max Ray Joyner Award for Outstanding Teaching in Distance Education was presented to Dr. Diana Bond, Department of Advanced Nursing Practice and Education. Bond was selected from a group of nine nominees who have shown a commitment and enthusiasm in teaching and mentoring off-campus students and have demonstrated excellence in the delivery of courses.
Eleven faculty members were recognized as 2018 Scholar-Teachers. This award celebrates faculty who engage their students in research and share their own research in their teaching. In the fall the Office for Faculty Excellence will offer sessions from each of the award winners about their work incorporating scholarship in their teaching.
Beth Chaney, Department of Health Education and Promotion
Anna Froula, Department of English
Melissa Hudson, Department of Special Education, Foundations and Research
Ray Hylock, Department of Health Services and Information Management
Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, Department of Public Health
Amy Jnah, Department of Advanced Nursing Practice and Education
Jocelyn Nelson, School of Music
Ariane L. Peralta, Department of Biology
Thomas M. Rickenbach, Department of Geography, Planning and Environment
Teresa J. Ryan, Department of Engineering
William Swart, Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management
In closing the ceremony, Mitchelson thanked the faculty members for their dedication to the university and their students. “Thank you for taking the time and making the sacrifices it takes to achieve excellence. Thank you for challenging our students,” he said.