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.
Sophie Adamson, assistant professor of French
Sophie is known by students and colleagues as a dynamic, innovative, creative, inspiring, and rigorous teacher. Her chair notes that since her arrival in 2005, the number of French majors and minors has increased significantly, and the French Club and French House – both for which Sophie serves as the faculty advisor – have blossomed. Her chair goes on to describe her inspirational effect on students by recounting this UFO sighting (Unbelievable French Observation): (I quote) “Imagine, if you will…a group of students enrolled in Sophie’s French 121…so inspired by her course that they – get this (yes, I’m still quoting) – spoke French to each other in the hallway before and after class.” Sophie inspires while challenging. Her students regularly rate her among the best teachers across the university, while simultaneously rating her courses as among the most rigorous and challenging.
Always seeking to improve and reflectively engage with others, Sophie regularly participates in course development, pedagogy, and other teaching-learning programs, events, and activities on campus. In 2007-08, Sophie was selected as a Service-Learning Faculty Scholar, and in 2008-09, she was selected as a partner in the innovative ETLP classroom research program. Always innovating, Sophie’s French Conversation students recently took on roles as French-speaking journalists and recorded interviews in French for a fictional radio station about French and American popular culture. Always creatively engaged, Sophie has developed a number of innovative courses, like “French Social Criticism thru Humor” and “Francophone Cultures,” developed creative independent studies to meet the interests of individual students, and engaged as mentor for a number of students conducting undergraduate research in the humanities.
In addition to being an outstanding teacher, Sophie is a talented scholar, author of a recent book, published in top-flight journals in her field, and active in the scholarship of teaching and learning. And among her many service-leadership efforts, she is noted by her chair as leading a recent massive curriculum revision in the French curriculum. Sophie’s chair muses that the term “teacher-scholar” just might have been invented to describe the likes of Sophie.
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 three years. 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.
Janet MacFall, associate professor of biology and environmental studies
Nicknamed “scooter” by her students and known as a “force of nature” by her Department Chair, Dr. Janet MacFall abounds in energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the university and the environment.
After 13 years as the Coordinator of the Environmental Studies Program, Janet successfully shepherded the transition of the program into Elon University’s first interdisciplinary department serving as its acting chair last year. In just the last two years, she organized the department’s summer move to its new location in the Powell House, chaired two department search committees, developed a new interdisciplinary minor in ‘Environmental and Sustainability Studies,’ chaired a sub-committee that developed a new major in ‘Environmental and Ecological Science,’ actively participated in the development of the department’s 5 year Learning Assessment Plan and curriculum revision proposal, and developed Elon’s first restoration ecology field course.
Janet is a leading proponent for the development of the sustainability initiatives on our campus. Her service-leadership to the greater campus community has resulted in several new programs that have led to the enhanced professional development of faculty and the social development of students. President Lambert appointed her to the Environmental Awareness Committee that authored Elon University’s first Sustainability Master Plan. It was Janet’s vision that led to the Sustainability Faculty Scholars Program. As the Lead Coordinator for this program, she has led field trips, developed learning resources, and organized summer common reading discussions for participating faculty. In spring 2007, Janet launched a new Living Learning Community focused on Environmental Sustainability. As the faculty advisor to this new residential learning community, she met with the group every Sunday night in addition to leading camping trips, on-campus service projects, and sustainability discussions.
Since its creation, Janet has served as Director of the Elon University Center for Environmental Studies which provides a vital link to the greater community and environment outside the walls of Elon University. As the Director of the Center, Janet and her advisory board plan the annual Elon University Fall Environmental Forum which brings community stakeholders, state policy makers, resource managers, professional educators, and recognized environmental experts to our campus each year. Other accomplishments related to the Center include securing grants to protect the upper Haw River, hosting public hearings about local water management issues and hosting the regional Envirothon for public school children. Janet also serves as a member of the Piedmont Conservation Center Board of Directors, a member of the Haw River Assembly Board of Directors, and is the President of the Executive Board of the Cape Fear River Assembly.
Jessie Moore, assistant professor of English
Her Department Chair writes that “Jessie Moore excels in service and has a strong presence in the English Department, handling two important and complex roles with great efficiency and skill.” Since 2005 Jessie has served as the Co-coordinator for the Professional Writing and Rhetoric Concentration and since 2006 as the College Writing/English 110 Coordinator. As a Co-coordinatorship of the PWR program, Jessie’s work includes coordinating course scheduling, promoting the concentration, advising students, crafting and assessing the concentration’s 5 year plan, writing the annual report for the concentration and holding workshops, retreats and meetings for faculty. Jessie and others routinely offer portfolio workshops for students in the PWR concentration who are developing their senior portfolios, promote creative student projects in CUPID, assess individual PWR courses and conduct senior exit interviews as part of a comprehensive approach to assess student learning outcomes and built a strong program.
Jessie’s depth of involvement and leadership as the Coordinator of the College Writing Program is equally impressive. With 24 to 30 sections of composition each semester, the challenges associated with program coordination are huge and the stakes are high. Jessie is involved in supporting composition faculty through observing classes, providing one-on-one feedback and coordinating a mentoring program for new faculty. She also provides a planning week workshop for all English 110 faculty and a workshop for faculty who are teaching English 110 for the first time.
Her chair writes that Jessie does so much in the English Department that it is hard to imagine that she has time for university-wide committees and service. But she does.
Jessie served as the Chair of the General Studies Council in 2007 – 2008 and began the first stage of the General Studies Assessment Plan. She also serves on the Academic Service Learning Faculty Advisory Committee and the Isabella Cannon Center for International Studies Advisory Committee and contributes significantly to the summer Writing Residency program for Elon faculty. Jessie is the faculty advisor for the Elon College Fellows living learning community. Her contributions to the Elon College Fellows Program have been substantial as she coordinates and teaches the required Fellows winter term course and also participates on the Fellows Advisory Board. Again, Jessie’s Department Chair writes that “She wears many hats and they all fit well. In all phases of her work, Jessie is organized and thorough. Her work is exceptionally fine. She takes the word responsibility to a new level and is a person committed to Elon in every way.”
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 three years. 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.
Drew Perry, associate professor of English
Drew is recognized as an artful, rigorous educator. He is noted as providing students with the encouragement as well as constructive, critical feedback necessary for them to develop as creative writers. As a mentor, Drew gives generously of his time and expertise to individual students undertaking significant creative endeavors as well as to student publications such as the recently published Colonnades, Elon’s literary and art journal.
Today we honor Drew as a creative fiction writer. It strikes me, that fiction writers experience professional careers punctuated in unique ways by the type of watershed moments we celebrate with Drew today. The author of a number of short stories and currently fiction editor for storySouth, Drew has, for the past several years, immersed himself in crafting the story and characters of his first novel, titled This is Just Exactly Like You. Following a competitive bidding war, the novel was recently published by Viking Press, an impressive feat for a first novel especially because Viking has as its mission the publication of “…distinguished fiction with some claim to permanent importance rather than ephemeral popular interest.” Viking describes Drew’s novel as “A darkly humorous debut novel of suburban survival and life's occasional miracles.” Drew’s chair describes the novel as “intelligent, beautifully shaped, filled with humor and insight. It examines the characters' emotional lives, how they are filled with hesitations and almost mindless decisiveness. In the novel he speaks about love triangles and love squares, karaoke attraction, bilingual autism, and a couple of his central characters work at Kinnett University.”
Drew’s novel is also receiving high praise from his peers. Mark Childress, author of One Mississippi and Crazy in Alabama calls Drew’s novel “A terrifically accomplished study of character and motive, and a deeply personal tale of life with an autistic child, all carried off in a narrative voice that is winning, funny, and true. I loved this book. It moved me.” Nina de Gramont, author of Gossip of the Starlings says “Like all the very best novels, This Is Just Exactly Like You will make you first forget your own life and then reevaluate it. Drew Perry has written a beautiful and riveting book about the relationships that won’t let us go, and the heartwarming human comedy that we call love.” Finally, Tim O'Brien, winner of the National Book Award and author of The Things They Carried calls This is exactly like you “…a richly imagined, beautifully written, and completely absorbing work of fiction. I found myself spellbound, turning pages well past my bedtime. What a fine, fine book.”
I believe those quotes capture better than I could the truly exceptional nature of what Drew has accomplished.
Gabie Smith, associate professor of psychology
Although she is likely to disagree, Gabie possesses an impressive ability to negotiate the complexities of balancing teaching, service, leadership, and scholarship, exemplifying the principles outlined by Elon’s teacher-scholar-mentor statement. With respect to teaching, her chair notes, that her students, while telling you that her courses were the most enjoyable they had at Elon, will immediately follow with a synopsis of just how demanding her course workload was and how uncompromising she was in regard to the high standards to which she held them accountable.
Outside the traditional classroom, Gabie has mentored a significant number of students, incorporating them into her own broadly defined areas of scholarly expertise. The outcomes of her mentoring are impressive including students co-authoring professional conference presentations and articles published in quality peer reviewed professional journals. As a colleague notes “Perhaps what most separates Gabie from ‘good mentors’ is her unique ability to connect with her students on a personal level that fosters a respect for her academic and professional ability as well as a genuine admiration for her as a person.”
Moreover, she has served the college and university on numerous committees, including chairing Academic Council’s task force on the evaluation of teaching, and she regularly offers her research design and analysis expertise to enhance the work of others. As if all of those achievements – outstanding teaching, dedicated service, thoughtful leadership and exemplary mentoring – were not enough, today we honor her for her scholarly achievements.
In addition to making some half dozen presentations at national and international conferences, Gabie has published four empirical articles in quality journals, including an article in Sex Roles, the leading journal in the psychological study of sex and gender. Moreover, she is currently working on several other manuscripts.
In addition to publishing in her specific fields of expertise in health psychology and the psychology of sex and gender, Gabie also publishes with regularity on the scholarship of teaching and learning including a book chapter, and several articles in the Association for Psychological Science’s monthly publication the Observer.
Gabie’s versatility and expertise within the general field of psychology, as well as her expertise on pedagogical methods, have been recognized by her authorship of various instructor resource materials
Gabie’s scholarly abilities have been well recognized by her professional colleagues, as she has served as a reviewer for 4 peer-reviewed journals and is frequently asked to review texts in her field. In sum, Gabie has established herself as a productive and highly respected scholar in the field who models daily the best of what we mean by teacher-scholar-mentor.
Elon College Faculty Excellence Awards for 2009