Faculty honored at 2023 University Teaching Awards ceremony
East Carolina University recognized and celebrated outstanding faculty members during the 2023 University Teaching Awards ceremony Tuesday night in the Murphy Center.
“I’m so proud we’re a university that offers a promise of transformational and aspirational opportunities to our students, and the award nominees and recipients we honor this evening are helping to ensure that ECU continues to deliver on that promise,” Chancellor Philip Rogers said in his welcome. “Thank you for your unwavering commitment to ECU and our students.”
Faculty from departments and colleges across the university were honored in several award categories.
Elizabeth Ables, associate professor in the Department of Biology in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, received the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award recognizes a sustained record of distinguished teaching by a tenured faculty member and is the highest award given at ECU.
In a video played at the ceremony, students described what makes Ables a great teacher, including encouraging teamwork and always being there for her students. “She helps us to think for ourselves,” said one student. “She’s passionate for what she does.”
“She really cares for her field and her students,” said another.
Using a biology metaphor, Ables said she likes to think of students as stem cells.
“They have the DNA to become anything they want to be, but both students and stem cells must receive mentorship and instruction to know how to harness all that potential,” Ables said. “Students have the right DNA, but as educators, we provide the important signals. We can’t walk their path for them, but we can provide the positive microenvironment for them to succeed. Outside of the awards, the grants, the recognitions for our work, our true measure of success as educators is whether our students have succeeded, and I am continually grateful to all of my students for allowing me to be a part of their lives.”
Ables said she resembles many of her students.
“My family are not academics. They are working-class folks from eastern Virginia. Coming to ECU 10 years ago felt a lot like coming home,” she said. “Being at ECU has brought me the opportunity to give something back to a community of people very much like the people I grew up with, who instilled many of my better traits — work ethic, determination, grit, drive. I feel very lucky to be here and thankful for a wonderful and supportive family who consistently remind me to think outside of the ivory tower.”
Ables said she was honored and humbled to receive the award, thanking all the teaching award nominees and winners and the faculty and staff in biology, chemistry and Harriot College. “You continue to raise the bar for what it means to be an educator, and despite all the challenges of the last five years, you have persevered and you made ECU stronger than it was before.”
Other faculty members who received awards during the ceremony include:
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award — recognition of full-time faculty who have taught at ECU for three or more years and who demonstrate excellent or exceptional teaching ability
- Lisa Bennett, senior teaching instructor, chemistry, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
- Jon Kirchoff, associate professor, marketing and supply chain management, College of Business
- Christine Kowalczyk, associate professor, marketing and supply chain management, College of Business
- Tammy Lee, associate professor, Department of Mathematics Education, Science Education and Instructional Technology, College of Education
- Anne Mallory, teaching associate professor, English, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
- Daniel Shirley, assistant professor, music, College of Fine Arts and Communication
Scholar-Teacher Award — recognition of faculty who effectively integrate research and creativity with their teaching roles
- Janee’ Avent Harris, associate professor, interdisciplinary professions, College of Education
- Natasha Bell, assistant professor, engineering, College of Engineering and Technology
- Courtney Caiola, assistant professor, nursing science, College of Nursing
- Leslie Cofie, assistant professor, health education and promotion, College of Health and Human Performance
- Lisa Domico, teaching associate professor, pharmacology and toxicology, Brody School of Medicine
- Johanna Hannan, assistant professor, physiology, Brody School of Medicine
- Karen Litwa, assistant professor, anatomy and cell biology, Brody School of Medicine
- Thanh Ngo, professor, finance, College of Business
- Adam Offenbacher, assistant professor, chemistry, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
- Jessica Teague, assistant professor, theatre and dance, College of Fine Arts and Communication
- Jill Twark, associate professor, foreign languages and literatures, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
- Heather Vance-Chalcraft, assistant professor, biology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Alumni Association and Robert L. Jones Awards for Outstanding Teaching — recognition of faculty who exemplify the characteristics of effective teaching outlined in the ECU faculty manual
- Anne Bunnell, teaching instructor, biology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
- Susan McRae, teaching professor, biology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Robert L. Jones Teaching Award
- Brian Cavanaugh, teaching instructor, health education and performance, College of Health and Human Performance
Max Ray Joyner Award for Outstanding Teaching in Distance Education — honors a faculty member who has shown commitment for teaching and mentoring off-campus students, demonstrating excellence in the delivery of online courses
- Xi Lin, assistant professor, interdisciplinary professions, College of Education
Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award — recognition of the unique time, effort and planning necessary for successful academic service-learning instruction and organized community-based learning activities
- David Mayo III, senior teaching instructor, Miller School of Entrepreneurship, College of Business