Elon College Faculty and Student Excellence Awards
May 7, 2009
The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes a faculty member who exemplifies the Elon teacher-scholar – outstanding in the classroom, current in the discipline, and committed to the intellectual development of students. Elon’s mission statement calls for “a rich intellectual community characterized by active student engagement with a faculty dedicated to excellent teaching.” The selection committee looked for excellence in the classroom as tangibly demonstrated by teaching and administrative evaluations for the preceding three years. Equally important were intangible factors, such as inspiring students in the discipline, embracing ways to engage students in active learning, being available to students outside the classroom, being known as an excellent academic adviser, and having a willingness to teach where needed.
Paul Fromson (Department of Psychology)
Paul teaches a wide variety of courses and routinely teaches three different upper-level courses in a semester. He is first and foremost a thoughtful, conscientious teacher. His syllabi are highly detailed, reflecting very careful, thought-out, long and short term goals and objectives for each class. Each individual class period is likewise well planned, consisting of a structured sequence of varied, engaged learning activities that can be directly linked to course goals. He frequently uses a case study approach, helping students to link the abstract theoretical aspects of the discipline to real-world cases. Even with those courses he has taught for years he is constantly assessing, and revising, and never teaching the same course exactly the same way twice.
While Paul’s teaching evaluations are consistently very high, he has established himself as a rigorous teacher who quickly and effectively communicates those high expectations for every student. But this challenge is balanced by support; as he always makes himself available to provide the support students need to succeed in his classes. As one student noted “Dr. Fromson is by far one of my favorite professors … His teaching style is amazing because he always made me want to learn more. He is so dedicated to his field…which I think contributed greatly to an environment conducive to learning. Whenever I needed extra help, or just wanted to talk to him about something I had observed, he was always attentive and made me feel like my thoughts were worth his time."
In addition to classroom teaching, Paul has mentored numerous independent research projects and his students have presented their research at professional conferences. Of particular note is Paul’s work with internship students. He has carefully developed ties in the community to provide hands-on experiences for students interested in clinical psychology. Prospective interns are carefully developed, as he prepares promising students for their internship experiences well ahead of time, providing continuous guidance while students are in the field, helping them make sense of what they are experiencing and cope with the difficult emotional aspects of working with people with mental illness. Paul ensures that the academic component of their experience is rigorous; he has developed a carefully sequenced set of assignments which are a model of how to ensure that students reflect appropriately on their experiences. Paul, thank you for your excellence in Teaching.
Joel Hollingsworth (Department of Computing Sciences)
Joel is truly outstanding in the classroom in a discipline that is constantly and rapidly changing and where conveying the most current knowledge and skills to our students is an absolutely requirement. In any given academic year Joel teaches five to six different courses that span the entire computer science curriculum, from the most introductory course through senior level courses. While the material and audiences in these courses vary greatly, Joel’s teaching performance remains at the highest level. His student evaluations have consistently exceeded department and university averages.
Joel brings state-of-the-art computing theory and skills into each course. For example, during the current spring semester, he taught a 400-level course, Mobile Computing, using the latest Android software platform from Google that had only been released three months earlier. Even more impressive was that despite the lack of teaching materials and systems administrative support for this sudden course update, Joel worked to provide these essential elements himself and taught a successful, cutting edge course. Joel’s department chair note, “Joel is a role model in his ability to keep up with change and bring it into the classroom.”
Joel is committed to the intellectual development of his students both in and out of the classroom, serving as a mentor of Elon’s programming teams, a mentor of student research, and a graduate school advisor. For the past eight years, Joel has recruited and mentored at least two three-person programming teams for the Southeast Regional Programming Contest that has over 130 participating teams. Joel prepares the teams throughout the year for the contest, and his teams have routinely finished in the top 25%. He recently mentored an honors thesis investigating the development of an embodied mobile agent framework for the IPhone. This mentorship displayed Joel’s devotion to the student as Joel competitively applied for and became one of the first 4000 developers in the United States accepted by Apple into the IPhone development program. If Joel had not been accepted, the student could not have pursued this research.
Finally, Joel has excelled at advising students planning to attend graduate school. He has been instrumental in eight Elon students receiving full scholarships and stipends to attend the graduate program in Computer Science at Wake Forest University. Joel, for this and the many other ways that you are committed to excellent teaching and learning at Elon, we thank you.
L.M. Wood (Department of Art)
L.M. joined the Department of Art to create and support the digital art major and has played a major role in developing the curriculum, maintaining the computer lab and teaching many of the courses. The resulting success of the digital art program is in large part a result of L.M.’s strengths as a teacher and visionary leader in program design. Her student evaluations, regardless of course level, have consistently been higher than both department and university averages, and she is repeatedly described by students as challenging and supportive.
The high academic standards and clarity of purpose that characterize L.M.’s teaching result from her current and intimate knowledge of hardware, software and artistic design, from extensive professional experience in her field, from thoughtful reflection of her teaching and student outcomes and from careful planning and scaffolding of the curriculum. Her teaching incorporates multiple pedagogies that integrate the theoretical with the applications as students actively engage in making objects as well as intellectually conceiving them. L.M. provides many opportunities for her students to conceive, design and display their work through internal venues such as designs for Colonnades, Celebrate and other Elon programs and organizations and through external exhibitions and presentations such as the Electronic Media Festival.
L.M.’s mentoring extends well beyond the classroom where she mentors student projects, serves on senior thesis committees and works with students majoring in digital art to construct individualized, long range development plans. L.M. not only challenges her students, but also brings a passionate commitment to supporting them. A colleague describes her as “steadfastly student-centered,” and “she always develops a close relationship with her students as a way of understanding who they are and what is important to them so that she can help them develop and execute ideas that are truly their own.” Students routinely report that L.M. connects with them, is always clear, patient, caring, approachable and accessible. She is also a strong advocate for disabled students and has worked with Michael Fels to create an environment in the department that is accessible and supportive for all students. L.M. we thank you for your excellence in teaching.
The Excellence in Service/Leadership Award recognizes a faculty member who richly contributes to the ongoing welfare and betterment of the College, the university, and the profession. We value the many service and leadership roles performed by faculty. The teacher-scholar document calls on faculty to “dedicate their talents, experience, and leadership skills to activities that sustain, develop, and improve the entire institution.” We value presence on campus, noting over time who does the big and little tasks that make us a better college. The selection committee focused on the tangible results of service for the preceding year. Equally important were intangible factors, such as a willingness to volunteer one’s time when needed, to carry new ideas to reality, and to engage in shared governance.
Evan Gatti (Department of Art)
Since joining the Elon community as full time faculty in 2006, Evan has immersed herself in service to the department and the university and has positively impacted both in a relatively short time. At the department level, Evan is always an enthusiastic advocate for student interest in art and for the new Art History major for which she and Kirstin Ringelberg share coordination responsibility. This past year Evan participated significantly in the development of the proposal for a new Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art and in the development of a revised Bachelor of Arts degree in Art.
An exceptional advisor and mentor, Evan served in an advisory capacity to three senior art majors as part of their senior thesis committees, mentored students in undergraduate research and accompanied student presenters to NCUR. Similarly, Evan’s early immersion in the life of the university is quite notable. A member of the General Studies Council, she was active this year in discussions of the interdisciplinary nature of upper-level GST seminars and their integration in study abroad programs. Along with Lynn Huber, Evan has served the university’s goal of international education by developing and offering Elon students a winter term study abroad experience in Italy.
This year Evan has continued to serve on the President’s Task Force on Scholarship. As an extension of that service, she chaired the subcommittee charged with integrating the role of the scholar-mentor into the teacher-scholar statement. She is a member of the Women and Gender Studies Advisory Board and the Classical Studies Minor Advisory Committee. This past year, Evan has also provided diligent and professional expertise on the search committee for an important university position—the Executive Director of Cultural and Special Programs.
While many may be aware of Evan’s participation on the President’s Task Force on Scholarship, fewer are probably aware of the important service and leadership that she provides as the current coordinator of Elon’s art collection. In this leadership role, Evan has greatly enhanced awareness of Elon’s collection, has worked to integrate the collection into the teaching and learning mission of the university, and has been a strong advocate for its stewardship, maintenance, and development. As current coordinator, Evan’s accomplishments this year include the re-hanging of the collection in Belk Library including labels and text, the supervising student workers in cataloging and organizing the collection, appointing an Art Collection Advisory Council, contributing to the creation of a brochure that highlights the Sculpture Walk along Haggard Avenue, and developing a proposal for a University Collections coordinator. For this and more, thank you, Evan, for your excellence in service and leadership.
Karl Sienerth (Department of Chemistry)
Karl is one of those special individuals who has demonstrated the ability to negotiate the complexities of balancing teaching, service, and scholarship in a way that exemplifies the principles outlined by Elon’s teacher-scholar-mentor statement. He is an excellent teacher, a gifted mentor, and an accomplished scholar, but today we pay tribute to him for his service to Elon College and the university.
Karl has served as Director of Undergraduate Research for the past five years. During that time, he has been instrumental in providing the vision necessary for the program to achieve national prominence. The programmatic growth in undergraduate research under Karl’s leadership has been nothing short of amazing as we have seen impressive increases in the number of Elon undergraduates presenting at national and regional conferences, both professional and undergraduate, as well as impressive increases in the number of research grants, summer research experiences, and active faculty mentors.
While Karl will be the first to admit that others had a significant role in these accomplishments, all of us know that Karl’s inclusive style, ability to inspire others, passion for undergraduate research, and commitment to excellence were critical to the program’s success. His advocacy and leadership have benefitted countless faculty mentors and undergraduate researchers. Karl’s engagement at a national level, including serving as a facilitator for institutes to assist other institutions as they develop undergraduate research program, as an external reviewers for programs, and as a councilor for the Council on Undergraduate Research have brought Elon onto the national scene as a model of how to create, sustain and enhance undergraduate research.
But Karl’s service goes well beyond his impressive record as director. He serves on the Presidential Task Force on Scholarship, where his contributions were many, including work to acknowledge the critical importance of the mentoring role of faculty. Additionally, he has served on selection committees for the Rawls Professorship, the Honors Director, and the Senior Faculty Research Fellowships. He has served on the Lumen Prize Committee, and he currently serves on the planning committee for Elon’s next strategic plan.
Karl has made and continues to make a lasting impact on the university, and we are fortunate that he so generously shares his time and talents. Karl, thank you for your excellent service and leadership.
The Excellence in Scholarship Award recognizes a faculty member whose scholarly work has a significant intellectual impact. Elon’s teacher-scholar model describes scholarship as “the most fundamental form of professional activity.” We value the scholarship of discovering new knowledge, integrating knowledge, applying knowledge, and developing pedagogical innovations. The selection committee considered tangible evidence of peer-reviewed research and creative activity that was published or presented during the preceding year. Equally important were intangible factors such as supporting the scholarly endeavors of colleagues, advancing the University’s reputation, and mentoring students in undergraduate research. At Elon, a professor cannot be measured by the articles published, to the exclusion of the lives inspired.
Charles Irons (Department of History)
An exceptional teacher and faculty leader, Charles is achieving national recognition as a promising young scholar of American religion. His book, The Origins of Proslavery Christianity: White and Black Evangelicals in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia, tackles a core inconsistency of evangelical Christianity as practiced in antebellum America. Specifically, although evangelicals believed that all who had been born again were “brothers and sisters in Christ,” white Christians managed to use their religion to justify slavery—thereby sanctioning the ownership of fellow Christians. Donald Mathews, Professor Emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill writes, "Unlike many scholars, Charles Irons takes seriously the interaction between black and white believers in the antebellum South. In this innovative and painstaking study, the author demonstrates how this interaction—flawed, antagonistic, and paradoxical—played out within institutions where both races engaged each other."
In addition to his book, Charles has published articles and book reviews in other important journals, including the American Baptist Quarterly, the Journal of Backcountry Studies, and the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Charles’ thoughtful analysis of provocative subjects has led to other honors. Of particular note is his recognition as one of ten Young Scholars in American Religion. This prestigious program, funded by the Lilly Endowment and sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, makes it possible for a small cohort of promising scholars to gather periodically to share their work among themselves and with senior scholars of American religion. Without a doubt, being chosen to participate in this program is tangible evidence of Charles’s growing national reputation as a scholar. As befits that reputation, he was recently invited to join the editorial board of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Additionally, at the invitation of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, he will take part in a roundtable on religion in the early national period this summer, a session that will feature his book.
Charles has also established himself as a high-quality mentor of undergraduates, finding creative ways to include them in his scholarly endeavors as evidenced by his project, “Other Souths: Alamance County in the Civil War and Reconstruction.” Charles is a gifted mentor and prolific scholar whose writings on American religion have deepened the scholarly conversation on important topics at a national level. Charles, thank you for your excellence in scholarship.
Awards recognizing student excellence were presented by faculty from various departments within Elon College.
The event concluded with a tribute to Steven House
, founding dean of Elon College, in recognition of his appointment as Elon University’s next Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Current Provost Gerry Francis, Cindy Fair (Department of Human Services), Russ Gill (Department of English), and Fred Rubeck (Department of Theatre Arts) offered tributes, which were followed by a special dance performance dedicated to Dr. House.
Elon College Faculty Excellence Awards for 2008
Elon College Faculty Excellence Awards for 2007
Elon College Faculty Excellence Awards for 2006
Elon College Faculty Excellence Awards for 2005
Elon College Faculty Excellence Awards for 2004