Elon College recognizes 2019 Faculty Excellence Award winners

Five faculty members were honored on Monday, Aug. 19, for their excellent work in Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences.  

On Monday, Aug. 19, Dean Gabie Smith proudly recognized five faculty members for their excellent work within Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences. 

Recognized with 2019 Faculty Excellence Awards were, from left, Jason Kirk, Mussa Idris, Crista Arangala, Scott Proudfitt and Evan Gatti (not pictured).
Jason Kirk, associate professor of political science and policy studies, was recognized for his Excellence in Scholarship.  Mussa Idris, assistant professor of anthropology and Evan Gatti, associate professor of art history, were acknowledged for their Excellence in Mentoring.  Crista Arangala, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and outgoing chair of the University Curriculum Committee, was recognized for her Excellence in Service & Leadership. Lastly, Scott Proudfit, Associate professor of English, was recognized for his Excellence in Teaching. 

Kirk has a new book on Elon's fall convocation speaker, former U.N. Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, titled, "Taking Names: The Meaning of Nikki Haley, From American-First Governor to America-First Ambassador." He has published several recent articles on a variety of topics related to India’s politics ranging from “State Homophobia? India’s Shifting UN Positions on LGBTQ Issues,” “What Makes a Successful Indian American Political Candidate?,” “Keeping an Eye on South Asian Skies: America’s Pivotal Deterrence in Nuclearized India-Pakistan Crises.”

Kirk is actively involved as a scholar in his field, serving as a reviewer for journals in his specialty area, and regularly attending and presenting his research at conferences. He has received multiple small grants to support his scholarship over the past few years.  

Idris has mentored Lumen Scholars, teaching and learning apprentices, and students with a deep and abiding love for anthropology, leadership and social justice. His Lumen Prize student, Leena Dahal '17, successfully completed her Lumen project on the topic of “Responding to a post-disaster digital Nepali andolan: Youth agency in online and offline contexts,” presented her findings at the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum and National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, and is now pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge.  

Idris has mentored students who have completed internships at the Center for New North Carolinians in Greensboro. He mentored another student through a teaching and learning apprenticeship in Qualitative Research Methods, where the student learned to prepare a lesson plan, assess the learning of the students, present his own research and keep a teaching portfolio of his work through the semester.  One of his students wrote, “Dr. Idris is undoubtedly one of the best professors and research mentors Elon has ever had."

Gatti has a track record of mentoring several hours of undergraduate research every year for students who are part of the Elon College Fellows, Honors Fellows and those who are driven to go beyond what’s required and fulfill their intellectual curiosity. Her students have presented their research on art history in the premodern world to her classes, and taken their research on La difessa della razza to present at the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum and the National Conferences of Undergraduate Research. 

In addition to mentoring undergraduate research, Gatti has mentored students who’ve completed internships at local museums and art councils as well as other museums across the country.  

Arangala has a strong record of service and leadership on Elon’s campus and off campus on behalf of her discipline. She has served as a reader for mathematics Fulbright applications and has served on the editorial board for Mathematical Association of America Notices. 

Arangala served as chair of University Curriculum Committee for the past three years, where she worked with the Elon Core Curriculum Committee to finalize guidelines for experiential learning credit and helped Elon transition to smartcatalog. She has also served for several years now as the Chair of Department of Mathematics and Statistics. She helped steward the use of the Elon Traveling Science Center with Kerala schools and Cochin University of Science in Technology, served on the Strategic Planning Committee, and has served as past chair of Graduate Council (2015-17, chair 2016-17).

Since coming to Elon, Proudfit has taught more than a dozen different courses ranging from college writing to senior seminars for the English major with literature concentration and the drama and theatre studies major. He has developed and taught several very creative and popular winter term courses including "The Graphic Novel" and "The AIDS Play" that have impacted student learning well beyond the goals of literature and writing. 

Proudfit states that he is proud that he gets to teach “the kinds of exciting courses that change students’ lives” and student comments would strongly indicate that his classes are transformative.  For every criterion in every class, his students always evaluate his teaching well above the university and department averages.  From first-year writing and introductory literature for non-majors to senior capstones, students routinely characterize Proudfit's classes as inclusive, personally engaging and innovative, providing a special environment where “student learning always seems more valuable than anything else”.  

One student from his most recent drama and theatre studies senior seminar described him as the “best person on the planet!” based on this passion, commitment and support for students.

Elon College is pleased to recognize the enormous contributions of these five faculty members to the life and work of the College.  Please join us in congratulating them for their accomplishments. 

For more information on each of these awards, please visit the College's website at https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/arts-and-sciences/faculty-staff/awards/