CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University presented its top faculty and staff awards for teaching, research and service for the 2004-05 academic year Friday, April 22, at its annual spring General Faculty Meeting and Awards Convocation.

Image: Laura Cruz Image: George DeSain Image: Tom Frazier
Laura Cruz
George DeSain
Tom Frazier

Laura Cruz, assistant professor of history, won the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. The Paul A. Reid Service Award for faculty went to George DeSain, professor of electronics engineering technology, while the Paul A. Reid Service Award for administrative staff went to Tom Frazier, manager of Western's print shop.

Hal Herzog, professor of psychology, received the University Scholar Award, while the Support Program of Excellence Award went to the Coulter Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and the Integration of Learning Award was given to Elizabeth McRae, assistant professor of history, who co-developed the project, “A Retrospective of the Civil Rights Movement and Its Continued Reverberations,” with Tanisha Jenkins, director of multicultural affairs.

The honors were announced by Western Chancellor John W. Bardo; Kyle Carter, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; and Robert Caruso, vice chancellor for student affairs.

Other major awards recognized at the convocation include The University of North Carolina Board of Governors' Award for Excellence in Teaching, won by LeVon Wilson, professor of business law; 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, Carter said. Emphasis is on collaborative activities that promote holistic student development.

The 2005 winners are engineering and technology faculty members Aaron Ball, associate professor, and James Zhang, assistant professor, and graduate students Michael Clare and William Extine for their proposal on “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning Effectiveness of Engineering Education Using Integrated Web Services and Wireless Technology.”

Recipients in the Scholarly Development Assignment Program, announced by Carter, are Marilyn Chamberlin, assistant professor of sociology; Matt Liddle, art department head and associate professor; Marty Fischer, professor of communication disorders; and David Westling, Adelaide Worth Daniels Distinguished Professor of Special Education. 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.

Cruz, winner of the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, is completing her third year as a member of the Western faculty.

“Dr. Cruz' teaching philosophy includes the fundamental belief that every student has something to offer and every student is, in his or her own way, interesting and worth getting to know,” Bardo said in announcing the award.

“One of Dr. Cruz' strongest and most frequently used teaching techniques is the use of simulations and role playing to make instruction more realistic. One day, for example, she wore a full toga, complete with a crown of leaves, to discuss the expansion of the empire as if she were the emperor Trajan. Students describe Dr. Cruz as original, enthusiastic, fun, open-minded, extremely helpful, energetic, outgoing, understanding, interesting, wonderful teacher,” Bardo said.

DeSain, winner of the Reid faculty award, is a former department head who led engineering technology through its transformation of industrial arts into industrial technology, and finally into engineering technology, Bardo said.

“Notably, George wrote the permission to plan and permission to establish the electrical engineering joint degree program with UNC-Charlotte,” Bardo said. “In addition, George led proposals for the creation of the telecommunications engineering technology and construction management programs at Western. George has shared his wealth of knowledge and experience willingly. The quality of his contributions has definitely enhanced Western's reputation as a regional comprehensive institution of higher education.”

The recipient of the Reid staff award, print shop manager Frazier, “goes way above and beyond the call of duty in serving our entire campus,” Bardo said. “His attitude is amazingly cooperative and he thinks nothing of working overtime, with a smile, to get the job done.

“Tom exhibits his love of this institution in many ways,” Bardo said. “For example, when our Lady Cats basketball team won the Southern Conference Tournament late on a recent Saturday evening, Tom immediately left his home and came to the Print Shop to have signs and banners of congratulations ready for the team when they returned to Cullowhee at midnight. In fact, Tom himself was standing at Catamount Gap holding one of the signs. I know that I speak for the entire Western family when I say that we appreciate Tom's leadership, character, ability and hard work.”

Herzog, who won the University Scholar Award, conducts research on the relationships that humans have with other species, including attitudes that people have about the treatment of animals, how individuals resolve the moral paradoxes inherent in human-animal interactions, and studies of people whose lives are highly intertwined with animals.

“Dr. Herzog recently worked with colleagues at University College of London and the University of California-Davis, where he examined American Kennel Club records of more than 40 million purebred puppies registered in the United States over the past 50 years,” Bardo said. “He wanted to know why people choose the types of dogs they select for pets. The results of his study were published in the Royal Society's Biology Letters, a scientific journal in Great Britain . It also attracted quite a bit of attention in the British press, as well as in USA Today newspaper.”

In presenting the Support Program of Excellence Award to the Coulter Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Bardo said the center “promotes the exchange of innovative ideas and experiences among faculty in a dynamic, supportive environment; provides leadership and support for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Western; and assists faculty with learning-centered methods of instruction.”

“Since 1988, the Coulter Faculty Center has been an advocate for the continuous improvement of teaching and learning, thus working directly for the fulfillment of Western's mission of excellence,” Bardo said.

The Integration of Learning Award is a new award established to recognize faculty members who work directly with Division of Student Affairs staff members to promote the integration of teaching with activities within the division.

The project developed by McRae and Jenkins will engage about 20 students in a research project that involves a retrospective of the civil rights movement and its continued reverberations, Caruso said in announcing the award. The students will visit nine major civil rights sites as they travel by bus across the Southeast for nine days in May.

“This hands-on approach to history will create unique research and creative opportunities for students in photojournalism, documentary-making, oral history, analyzing the effects of the civil rights movement on communities and individuals, tracing the trajectory of social justice in the South from the 1960s until today, and creating a public history exhibit for Western North Carolina communities,” Caruso said.

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Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2005
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