Bardo and Knotts Bardo and Jacques
Bardo and McAbee Bardo and Railsback
Clockwise from top left: Chancellor Bardo presents awards to Gibbs Knotts; Sharon Jacques; Brian Railsback; and Gene McAbee.

CULLOWHEE - Western Carolina University presented its top faculty and staff awards for teaching, research and service for the 2003-04 academic year Friday, April 23, at its annual spring General Faculty Meeting and Awards Convocation.

Gibbs Knotts, assistant professor of political science and public affairs, won the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. The Paul A. Reid Service Award for faculty went to Sharon Jacques, associate professor of nursing, while the Paul A. Reid Service Award for administrative staff went to Gene McAbee, director of university police. Brian Railsback, professor of English, received the University Scholar Award.

The honors were announced by Western Carolina Chancellor John W. Bardo, who also presented the Academic Program of Excellence Award to the College of Business’ entrepreneurship education program.

Other major awards recognized at the convocation include The University of North Carolina Board of Governors’Award for Excellence in Teaching, won by Mimi Fenton, associate professor of English; the Collaborative Education Experience Award; and the Scholarly Development Assignment Program awards.

The Collaborative Education Experience Award is designed to support well-rounded student learning experiences that go above and beyond traditional course requirements and support Western’s mission related to teaching and learning. Emphasis is on collaborative activities that promote holistic student development. The 2004 winners are Laura Cruz, assistant professor of history, and student Nathan Best, for “Masterstroke History Simulation,” an on-line World War I role-playing exercise.

Bardo and entrepreneurship education program leaders.
Chancellor Bardo presents the Academic Program of Excellence Award to the College of Business' entrepreneurship education program.
Bardo and Fenton
Chancellor Bardo and Mimi Fenton.

Recipients in the Scholarly Development Assignment Program are James Costa, associate professor of biology; Rob Young, associate professor of geosciences and natural resources management; Mark Holliday, associate professor of mathematics and computer science; LeVon Wilson, professor of marketing and business law; Gael Graham, professor of history; Bruce Henderson, professor of psychology; Scott Philyaw, associate professor of history; Mary Adams, associate professor of English; Betty Farmer, associate professor of communication, theatre and dance; and Marya Roland, associate professor of art. The Scholarly Development Assignment Program provides leave from usual work commitments to full-time tenured faculty so they may pursue concentrated scholarly work. Recipients are chosen on a competitive basis by a faculty committee.

Knotts, winner of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, is completing his fourth year as a member of the Western faculty. In addition to teaching undergraduate political science classes, Knotts is director of Western’s Master of Public Affairs Program. “He empowers students by providing them with the tools for lifelong learning and fulfilling careers,” Bardo said in announcing the award. “He generates student excitement and inspires them to become civically engaged. He wants students to develop an interest in the political process and a sense of efficacy about the political system.”

Jacques, winner of the Reid faculty award, has been a member of Western’s nursing education faculty since 1974. She teaches and advises students in the Capstone program that enables registered nurses with two-year degrees to complete their four-year degrees, and she has led the nursing department in distance education, converting the entire Capstone program so it is offered online. “Dr. Jacques is the backbone and ‘go to’ person on the nursing faculty. Her many years of experience and wealth of knowledge make her invaluable not only to the department of nursing, but to the university as a whole,” Bardo said.

The recipient of the Reid staff award, director of university police McAbee, is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the full array of duties performed by a local police department - including law enforcement, investigations, building and property security, crime prevention, crowd control, parking and traffic, and general assistance to campus residents and visitors. “His job is one that often places him and those with whom he deals in confrontational - even threatening - situations,” Bardo said. “He is regularly challenged to find the right balance between strict enforcement of the law and helping a student step away from a life-ruining mistake.”

Railsback, who won the University Scholar Award, is a nationally acclaimed scholar and author on the works of John Steinbeck. His first novel, an eco-thriller titled “The Darkest Clearing,” was published earlier this year and has been characterized by distinguished Southern author Fred Chappell as “one helluva ride,” Bardo said. “Dr. Railsback’s interests are wide-ranging - journalism, film, professional writing, creative writing, literary history and criticism, and a whole range of American authors figure into his world view and his engagement with multi-cultural literatures.”

In presenting the Academic Award of Excellence, Bardo praised the entrepreneurship education program for preparing students for successful careers as owners of small businesses and as entrepreneurship professors, and for helping economic development in the region. Western established the state’s first undergraduate entrepreneurship program, and in 2003 launched the nation’s first master’s degree program in entrepreneurship. “Of the 36 master’s students, 18 own their own businesses,” Bardo said. “Students report that they have opened new offices, expanded their sales, increased their market shares, and hired more people - all using skills they gained in the program.

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Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2014 Previously posted: Monday, April 26, 2004
Copyright 2003 by Western Carolina University