Faculty Honored for Excellence in Teaching and Leadership

Published on April 07, 2022

Eastern Kentucky University’s annual University Faculty Awards and Recognition Ceremony was held Tuesday, April 5 to recognize academic excellence in areas of teaching across the university. EKU faculty members were honored through the Noel Faculty Awards program in key strategic areas, for general education through the EngaGE program, first-year experience, libraries, QEP and leadership. 

The awards presentation was held in the Gifford Theatre as part of EKU’s annual Scholars Week celebration. 

“The hard work and dedication of our faculty members does not go unnoticed,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “Teaching goes well beyond time spent in the classroom. To truly invest in the next generation, our faculty give of their personal time as they see teachable moments throughout the semester. I sincerely thank our faculty for their dedication and service to our students and look forward to celebrating their efforts.”

EngaGE Awards for General Education 

EKU’s EngaGE program provides centralized resources, opportunities, incentives and recognition to general education faculty to help foster a culture of innovation and collaboration. Winners of these awards recognize faculty and teaching staff who have demonstrated excellence in engaging students in learning and promoting student advancement through teaching general education courses.

NdinguriThe EngaGE Student Success Award was presented to Dr. Margaret W. Ndinguri, associate professor of chemistry. Ndinguri created a variety of interactive course content, designed to keep students engaged, and incorporates real-world examples to help with practical application. “it was clear that she took a student-focused approach to teaching and wanted to provide us with opportunities to succeed in her class,” wrote a nominating student. “This class helped me to learn and enjoy organic chemistry and deepened my interest in science.” 


The EngaGE Student Retention Award was presented to Adam Douglas Hisel, senior lecturer in English. With more than 10 years experience as a faculty member for both the Richmond and Corbin campuses, Hisel encourages continual communication and remains flexible with students, discussing any issues or concerns that may arise during the semester. 

Strada and KimmelThe EngaGE Mentorship Award was presented to Krista Kimmel and John Strada, senior lecturers in communication. This award recognizes faculty and teaching staff who have demonstrated exceptional teacher-leadership in general education, via role modeling and intentional mentoring of faculty peers. This year’s recipients sought to promote excellence in teaching and advocate for and support the professional development and growth of faculty in the Communication Department.

EngaGE Course and Assignment Redesign Award recipients were recognized for their incorporation of effective teaching and learning practices as they envision a new course or assignment. Course Redesign Awards were provided to: Steve Barracca, Mark Pitts, Haley Cabaniss, Marco Ciocca, Jessica Lair, Garett Yoder, Alison Buck, Todd Gooch, Dominique Bellon, Tara Stevens, Amanda Green, Benjamin Feed, Cory BlackEagle and Michael AJ Randolph. Assignment Redesign Awards were provided to: Sung Bae Jeon, John White, Stephany Whitaker, Anne Cizmar and Glenn Campbell. 

First-Year Courses Outstanding Instructor Awards 

Lakin WooldridgeRecipients of the First-Year Courses Outstanding Instructor Award were nominated by students for going above and beyond in their first-year student success seminars. These instructors display empathy, teach the habits of highly successful students and guide freshmen toward rewarding major and career pathways. They support students in an exemplary fashion inside and outside the classroom so that personal growth and transformation are possible. 

The Distinguished Instructor Award was presented to Lakin Wooldridge, who teaches online business courses. 

The Foundations of Learning Winners were: AshtonJohnson and Thompson Chaffins of the EKU NOVA Program; Carlin Conway, Office of Institutional Equity; Michael Taylor, Office of Academic and Career Services; Starr Wentzel, Office of First-Year Courses; and Lakin Wooldridge, Enrollment Management. Superlative winners in this category are: Deanna Johnson, Office of Academic and Career Services and Ashley Thompson, University Housing. 

College-Specific Student Success Seminar Winners were: Ramona Davis, Corbin Christopher and NewRegional Campus; Julie Duckart, Department of Occupational Therapy; Susan Skees Hermes, Department of Occupational Therapy; Jamie Hisel, Department of Environmental Health Sciences; Michael Land, College of Justice, Safety, & Military Science; Sabrina Moore, College of STEM; Clara Parish, Department of Teaching, Learning & Educational Leadership; Katie Patton, EKU Honors Program; Dan Royalty, CLASS; Dennis Sinnett, Department of Aviation; and Adria Sutherland, Department of Music. Superlative winners in this category are: Karina Christopher, Department of Applied Human Sciences and Keri New, School of Nursing.

EKU Libraries Faculty Partnership Awards 

FoxThis year’s winner was Dr. Heather Fox, assistant professor of English. Honorable Mention is Cory BlackEagle, adjunct faculty members from geosciences. Recipients of this award work in partnership with librarians to promote information literacy in teaching and research and promote the role of the library as an essential component of EKU’s mission. Winners are nominated by a librarian or library staff member and demonstrate superior effort in partnering students with library resources and personnel. 

QEP Critical Reading and Critical Thinking Teaching Awards 

These awards are presented to EKU faculty members who challenge students to improve their critical reading and critical thinking. Faculty are nominated for the award by students through a university-wide survey.

Critical Reading Teaching Award Winners were: Angela Clark, School of Nursing; Carolyn Dupont, Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies; Adam Hisel, Department of English. Julie Hisel, Department of Environmental Health Sciences; Gill Hunter, Department of English; Joshua Lynn, Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies; James McGinn, Clinical Therapeutic Programs; Michelle Smith, Department of Mathematics and Statistics; Catherine Steam, Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies; and Jennifer Erin Stevenson, Department of Social Work.

Critical Thinking Teaching Award Winners were: Brittany Brown, Department of Fire Protection and Paramedical Sciences; Lindsay Cormier, Department of Biology; Lisa Day, Appalachian and Women and Gender Studies; Jackie Jay, Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies; Julie Lasslo, Department of Health Promotion and Administration; Nicole Lavy-Joy, Department of Social Work; Joshua Lynn, Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies; Lynnette Noblitt, Department of Government; Carl Root, School of Justice Studies; and Greg Wilson, Department of Applied Engineering and Technology. 

Noel Faculty Awards 

The High Impact Practice Teaching Award is presented to faculty members who have implemented high-impact teaching practices as defined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities: “Practices may include techniques and/or designs for teaching and learning that have proven to be beneficial for student engagement and successful learning among students from many backgrounds.” Three faculty members were recognized for their high-impact teaching practices this year.

BlairOne award was presented to James Blair, assistant professor of marketing. Blair is noted for his utilization of experiential learning, which attempts to provide students activities, assignments and exercises that simulate situations they will encounter in the professional business world. Such activities include: interviewing professionals in the marketplace, conducting in-person scavenger hunts at retail stores, presenting entrepreneurial marketing campaigns to business owners and designing professional pages on platforms like LinkedIn and Handshake. 

Neil and Amanda

Another award was presented to Amanda Green, assistant professor of anthropology and Neil Kasiak, oral historian. These two faculty members collaborated to develop and implement a high-impact practice assignment during the spring 2021 semester. Students in a medical anthropology course conducted interviews with members of the eastern Kentucky community to document Covid-19’s impacts. 

The Faculty Innovation in Teaching Award was presented to faculty members who lead the way in teaching innovation. Those innovations may come from any aspect of instruction such as methods, activities, technology, approaches or products. The scope varies to include a unit of study, an assignment or an activity. 

MartinOne recipient of the Faculty Innovation in Teaching Award was Dr. Travis Martin, director of the Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies and First-Year Courses administrator. It was noted that Martin draws upon the most recent research to innovate his courses and his innovations have influenced other faculty members. One nominee wrote, “with the recipient’s fresh approach, students are encouraged to create their own expectations and standards, to follow their own interests, to develop their innate skills, and to monitor their own learning. When you pause and reflect on what the educational system is supposed to do – inspire and empower students – you will see the power of his innovation.” Miller

Another recipient of the Faculty Innovation in Teaching Award was Dr. Jamie-Marie Miller, assistant professor of mathematics education. As an instructional coach in K-12 education, Miller helped teachers develop a toolkit of “go-to” strategies to create engaging lessons. She uses interactive notebooks that contain questions for pre-reading and reflection, as well as a table of instructional strategies that students complete during the semester. One student said, “not only do I feel prepared and equipped to start teaching, but most importantly, to feel confident in my knowledge of mathematical teaching strategies.” 

The Inclusive Excellence Faculty Award is presented to faculty members who demonstrate a strong record of promoting student motivation and engagement through culturally responsive teaching and assessment strategies. 

KorsonThe Inclusive Excellence Faculty Award was presented to Dr. Stacey Korson, associate professor of teaching, learning and educational leadership. Korson focuses on motivating and engaging students in learning through culturally responsive teaching and assessment. A highlight of her classroom is an activity that she created to help students think about the inclusion of English language learners. 


A second Inclusive Excellence Faculty Award was presented to Dr. Susan Skees Hermes, assistant professor of occupational science and occupational therapy. Hermes has been focused on supporting diversity and international service over the course of her 40-year career. Partnering her occupational therapy course with a special education course, she and her collaborator modified an existing cultural awareness self-assessment to include more disability-friendly language, led a Pedagogicon presentation and enhanced the online diversity learning experience for students. Outside of the classroom, she served as adviser for students starting EKU’s chapter of the Coalition for Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity.  

HarterThe Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award was presented to Dr. Cynthia Harter, associate professor of economics and director of the EKU Center for Economics Education. Through her role, Harter blends teaching, research and service to develop and deliver best practices in teaching and learning economics. “Thank you for choosing to be an effective scholar whose goal is the success of her students,” a student nominator wrote. “Not the grade, but the actual success in terms of them leaving your influence better than they began.” 


The Faculty Leadership Award was presented to Dr. José Juan Gómez-Becerra, assistant professor of Spanish. This award is presented to a faculty member who exhibits exemplary leadership at EKU, including leadership role, philosophy, contributions, impact, mentorship and integrity. It was noted that he “demonstrates a commitment to excellence and to uplifting those around him. His work and dedication merit recognition and his service to the university, department and students is invaluable.” 

Shirley and JerryThe inaugural Dr. Jerry Pogatshnik Graduate Faculty Award was presented to Dr. Shirley O’Brien, foundation professor of occupational science and occupational therapy. This award recognizes excellence in graduate-level teaching, scholarship and mentorship and is named for the longtime EKU leader. “She is greater than her title of professor, she is a mentor to all of her students,” one nominee wrote of O’Brien. “Whether it be 10 days from now, or 10 years, we know that we could email her seeking advice or mentorship and she would be ready within the day with multiple resources ready at hand and an eagerness to help.” 

“The scholar-teachers recognized this evening move the university forward in academic areas that ensure a transformative educational experience for our students through innovative teaching and learning and cultivation of knowledge among learners,” said Dr. Russell Carpenter, assistant provost and professor of English at EKU.