The University’s Awards of Excellence for Faculty and Staff are aligned with the University’s Strategic Pillars and Values and designed to identify and celebrate individuals that make outstanding contributions to the success of Georgia Southern University.
A total of 25 awards are available annually. This year the review committees awarded 19 recipients. Recipient descriptions of accomplishments were taken directly from the applicant’s packet.
Recipients will receive a University Medallion and $1000 to be used for professional development.
2020 – 2021 University Awards of Excellence Recipients
The Student Success award is designed to promote and reward those who have demonstrated outstanding efforts to increase student success.
Academic Advisor, Office of Pre-Professional Advising
As a Medical Professions Advisor (MPA) in the Office of Pre-Professional Advising, Kelsey Reeves coaches, teaches and assists students as they plan for and apply to graduate health professional programs across six pre-health disciplines. Currently, she is the only MPA and assists nearly 600 students pursuing the following programs; Pre-Medicine, Pre-Physician Assistant, Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Veterinary Medicine, Pre-Dentistry, and Pre-Optometry. She is a member of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) which allows her to continually learn and be up to date on the best practices for advising students interested in these health professions.
Kelsey is an integral part of taking the Medical Professions Advisement program to the next level. She assists in setting a very high standard of Medical Professions Advisement for other institutions as Georgia Southern is considered a leader in this area. Medical professions admissions recruiters frequently comment on the professional and thorough advising services provided by Kelsey. They state that our students are always prepared and successful.
Kelsey’s advisees consistently indicate that she far exceeds expectations as an advisor on the COSM Student Satisfaction Survey performed each semester. Students indicate she is extremely helpful, knowledgeable and always goes the extra mile to help them. Students
indicate that they are well prepared and knowledgeable of the admissions requirements for their various health professional graduate schools which facilitates their success. Students regularly express gratitude for their knowledgeable, kind and compassionate advisor.
Reeves displays great talents in advising and assisting students in the development of their academic plans. She has the desire to see students succeed and doesn’t give up on a student, even after they may have given up on themselves. Kelsey Reeves is a dedicated professional who is determined to provide the highest quality of academic advice, information and experiences for Georgia Southern students to be successful.
Shainaz Landge, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science and Mathematics
Dr. Shainaz Landge, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is known for her boundless energy, creativity and ingenuity. She has a first-rate work ethic, treats everyone with respect and is a reliable team player. When she leads, she ensures that everyone around her has opportunity for growth. These attributes have enabled Dr. Landge to have a far-reaching impact on her colleagues, students, local community and the world. Her outreach work of STEM activities extends to local schools, Georgia Southern STEMFest and development of STEM activities for students in India.
Dr. Landge has pioneered initiatives that support student success. Many science students come to college wanting to make a global difference through participation in unique research projects. Unfortunately, a lot of these students drop out of their majors before they get through introductory classes and don’t get the opportunity to participate in scientific research. In order to capture these students in the first year of college, Dr. Landge and her team developed a freshman research experience for students and creatively used the FYE program for delivery. She designed the program and named it, Incorporation of Freshmen Students in Research for Early Experience (iFREE), and it is currently in its second year. Likewise, she was accepted for the iCURE (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience) workshop, which will expand opportunities for undergraduate students by engaging whole classes in discovery-based research. Dr. Landge also leads the coordination of programming for chemistry and biochemistry undergraduate summer research workshops (CEM-SURE) which serves NSFREU participants and Georgia Southern undergraduate researchers as well as McNair Scholars. Dr. Landge developed a professional development summer series for all of the undergraduate research students in all of these programs.
Serving in the role as organic chemistry coordinator, Landge plays a key role in a number of areas that impacts students. She has oversight for all laboratory TAs as well as the organic chemistry supplemental instruction program. Further, she has spearheaded conversion of our lecture materials to reduced cost or free alternatives through the Affordable Learning Georgia Program which is a major thrust of the University System of Georgia. She is also an advisory board member for the COSM Living and Learning Community (LLC – the LAB).
Dr. Landge always goes the extra mile and devotes extreme amounts of time toward providing the best opportunities for students and developing them in ways that support growth and success as science majors. She is a game-changing mentor for her students. When she leads, she ensures that everyone on her team, students and colleagues, has opportunity for growth. She is quick to seize great opportunities and is always encouraging those around her to do the same. Simply put, Dr. Landge, through her example and leadership, makes everyone around her better. Dr. Landge is the personification of the Award of Excellence for Student Success.
Teaching and Academic Excellence
The Teaching award acknowledges those that improve student learning and prepare students to compete in the global marketplace.
Sue Ellen DeChenne-Peters, Ph.D.
Teaching Award Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, College of Science and Mathematics
Dr. Sue Ellen DeChenne-Peters earned her Ph.D. in science education from Oregon State University and joined the Department of Biology in 2017. Since then, she has blazed a trail in teaching excellence offering rigorous courses that uphold the department’s standards and engaging in high impact scholarship of teaching. She was awarded funding from NSF for a Collaborative Research Grant “Infusing Authentic Research in the Introductory Biology Curriculum.” This grant exames the adoption of a CURE curriculum in lower level courses in addition to a typical scenario of CURE experiences in upper division courses. This teaching research led to the paper, “Anatomy of STEM Teaching in American Universities: A Snapshot From a Large-scale Observation Study” published in the high impact journal Science. This impressive effort to study science teaching involved more than 2,000 STEM classrooms taught by 500 instructors. This study was important as it was a careful documentation of the number of faculty who use student-centered teaching practices versus traditional lecture. These efforts to document, and then change current teaching practices, is laudable and critical to making progress in STEM instruction.
Dr. DeChenne-Peters has advocated strongly for the use of collected data to ‘close the loop’ and effect change in specific courses (BIOL 1107/L) and at program milestones. She is a leader in the department with active-learning strategies and the use of technology that provides equity and increases inclusion, TopHat, and she consistently uses the near-peer Learning Assistants (LAs, undergraduate students trained in pedagogy) to great effect in the support of her students’ success. Her efforts in mentoring students and improving student experiences in and out of the classroom resulted in her receiving the Kathryn Grube Unsung Hero Faculty Award in 2019.
Dr. DeChenne-Peters is a collegial collaborator: not only has she led by example when pioneering the use of best practices at Georgia Southern, she has supported many others
with advice and encouragement in formal and informal settings. Her hard work and spirit of cooperation have transcended departmental boundaries with her impactful contributions to the advancement of science teaching.
The Academic Excellence award recognizes those individuals who provide or promote educational opportunities or resources that stimulate students’ academic progression and graduation.
Heidi A. Eisenreich, Ph.D.
Academic Excellence Award Assistant Professor, Mathematics Education, Department of Mathematical Sciences
Dr. Heidi Eisenreich joined the Department of Mathematical Sciences in 2016 as a tenure-track assistant professor of mathematics education. Since then, her contributions to the knowledge base in mathematics education have and continue to reach an international audience through high quality journal publications and conference proceedings. At the University she has been invited by the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) to share her expertise with colleagues at Georgia Southern University. She recently received the 2019 John Neff Award, which is awarded to only one teacher educator in Georgia each year through the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Dr. Eisenreich approaches academic excellence holistically, bringing scholarly excellence in teaching and learning to her contributions in all areas of faculty work in a way which reaches students and faculty both within and beyond the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Her use of innovative practices reflect a commitment to the belief that you must teach students in addition to teaching content. When teachers focus on the “whole student,” students feel a stronger sense of belonging and are more motivated to take risks to grow academically. In addition, an attention to developing positive dispositions about math in her students helps to support them in being more successful mathematics learners and future teachers of elementary students.
Dr. Eisenreich’s own classroom teaching is deeply entrenched in research-based practices with a focus on the development of a growth mindset in the classroom environment through cooperative learning, problem solving and discourse. Even through the recently disrupted delivery modes of essential courses for pre-service teachers, she has worked diligently and successfully to maintain an interactive, student-driven learning environment, providing a model of excellence to which these future teachers can aspire. Students convey an appreciation for her commitment to high standards and the emphasis placed on pedagogy and abstract mathematical thinking.
Dr. Eisenreich exemplifies what it means to take theory into practice in the classroom and she is instrumental in bringing evidence-based strategies in teaching mathematics to scale in the department through her role as facilitator of a mathematics faculty learning community. Her contributions to the department, students and the field of mathematics education are unquestionable, and she does so with an unwavering enthusiasm for mathematics learning.
Research and Discovery & Innovation
The staff award for Research recognizes one staff member for outstanding support in the conduct of research or who have advanced processes, methods and systems through research.
The faculty award for Research recognizes a faculty member for excellence in research and/ or creative scholarly activity.
Nathan Takas, Ph.D.
Research Award Chemical Instrumentation Manager, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Dr. Nathan Takas is the instrumentation manager for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on the Statesboro Campus. Working at Georgia Southern since 2012, Dr. Takas is responsible for instrument management and maintenance, infrastructure improvement, and equipment and supply ordering, among other duties. He oversees the user training, upkeep and repair of more than $3.4 million of inventoried equipment housed in the Nursing/Chemistry building. His knowledge includes X-ray diffraction, TGA, SEM, FTIR, UV/Vis, GC, HPLC, ICP, and MS techniques. These instruments are found in both teaching and research labs.
In addition to maintenance and repair, Dr. Takas is also responsible for the purchase and installation of all equipment for the department. While at Georgia Southern, he led the move of large instruments from Hendricks Hall to the Nursing/Chemistry building and oversaw the selection and/or installation of four GC-FIDs, three HPLCs, a single crystal X-ray diffractometer, a PXRD, two AAs, 10 UV/vis spectrometers, a DSC, four FTIRs, and numerous other instruments. Most selections involved the solicitation of price quotes from multiple vendors, the confirmation that the equipment was compatible with space and policies, and the preparation of the location. Much of his work is in support of grant applications.
Dr. Takas also takes on the important role of training users, including undergraduate researchers, in the use of departmental equipment. To adequately train these users, he must be certified and proficient in all of the instruments within the building. His leadership in furthering research in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry demonstrates invaluable discovery and innovation.
Amanda Glaze-Crampes, Ph.D.
Research Award Assistant Professor, Middle Grades Education & Secondary Education, College of Education
Dr. Amanda Glaze-Crampes examines the controversy surrounding teaching middle and high school students evolution in their biology courses and how best to prepare teachers to tackle this topic when they themselves do not feel comfortable with the content. Evolution is a particularly controversial topic in the southern part of the United States and Dr. Glaze-Crampes focuses a portion of her work on the struggles this particular region has with this issue. Teaching evolution is an important topic because we cannot expect to prepare students to be STEM workforce ready without an accurate understanding of evolution and biology. Her national recognition for her work in evolution education is evidenced by her recent fellowship to the Sinai and Synapses, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
She has been featured in interviews by NPR (Science Friday), Forbes magazine, and Scientific American magazine because her work is at the forefront of science education, religion and evolution. Her publication track record is phenomenal for any faculty member irrespective of rank — but it is particularly astonishing given that she is still an assistant professor. She has published nearly 25 scholarly works: peer- reviewed journal articles, book chapters, etc. Setting aside the quantity of work that she has produced, Dr.Glaze-Crampes is making an impact on society with her work as she also takes the time to actively publish in outlets such as newspapers, magazines and social media outlets that are more accessible to the public and to practitioners. She also engages teachers in professional development, based on her research, to help strengthen their teaching of evolution and biology. Dr. Glaze-Crampes is exactly the kind of scholar the University is hoping to nurture, one who has an impact on the public and on practice. The College of Education agrees with this assertion as she was awarded the College of Education’s highest honor for scholarship in 2020, the Jack Miller Award for Scholarship.
She also actively serves the University and the College of Education. Recently, she chaired the University’s Research Committee and currently serves as the chair of the College of Education’s Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Committee. As you may suspect, she is regularly evaluated as “noteworthy” in all areas: teaching, research and service.
The Discovery & Innovation award recognizes those individuals that promote creative scholarly activities, technologies and/ or environments that encourage innovative and problem-solving research collaboratives.
Masoud Davari, Ph.D.
Discovery & Innovation Award Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing
Dr. Masoud Davari is a member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing at Georgia Southern University. He has served as the Principal Investigator for two projects funded by the National Science Foundation’s Core Program of Energy, Power, Control and Networks in the Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems. These awards total $650,000. During his career, he has published nearly 50 scholarly papers, with 15 at Georgia Southern. He has published in the prestigiousInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Institution of Engineering and Technology journals and has received a Best Paper Award. For his numerous efforts, Dr. Davari was awarded his college’s Faculty Award for Scholarly Activity.
Dr. Davari is well-respected in his field. His collaborations include researchers at the University of Windsor in Canada, Mississippi State University, Duke University, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida State University, National Technical University of Athens, Greece, Austrian Institute Of Technology, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Aalborg University, and more, as well as industries in the IEEE Working Groups and IEEE Task Forces.
At Georgia Southern, Dr. Davari established and now directs the experimental Laboratory for Advanced Power and Energy Systems (LAPES) in the newly established, $60 million Engineering and Research Building at Georgia Southern. He conducts power/control hardware-in-the-loop testing using scaled-down test rigs and also performs digital real-time simulations of power systems by RTDS Technologies’ platform based on the newly released NovaCor Technology. LAPES has been equipped with $350,000 worth of pieces of equipment funded by two NSF grants, start-up package, and end-of-year funds. Dr. Davari also serves as the advisor to the IEEE Student Organization.
Inclusive Excellence and Openness & Inclusion
The Inclusive Excellence award recognizes those individuals who generated valuable ideas that have helped to develop new or improved processes, methods, systems, programs or services for their team, their department, our University or the external community.
Inclusive Excellence Award Associate Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Maurice Nelson cultivated his fervor and dedication for diversity, equity and inclusion as a college student who was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In that experience, he realized the breadth of diversity and the attention to detail that is required to truly be inclusive to a diverse body of constituents. Since then, he has applied Inclusive Excellence to his life’s philosophy, which further understands that Inclusive Excellence is a mastery of inclusion.
Associate Director Maurice Nelson has expanded the equitable support that the Office of Multicultural Affairs provides to our underrepresented minority student populations by significantly increasing membership, engagement and progression of students in our Minority Advisement Program, African American Male Initiative, and Diversity Peer Educators Program. Additionally, in fall of 2020, he oversaw the debut of two new programs on the Statesboro Campus: Sisters with Vision for Black women and the Hispanic Outreach and Leadership Achievement program for Hispanic and Latin American students. Both student success initiatives focus on increasing the retention, progression and graduation rates of the underrepresented groups through an inclusive and identity specific lens. He also has expanded Georgia Southern’s multi-identity programming portfolio and diversity training program. As a result, he has organized more than 200 diversity education and celebration programs and facilitated more than 200 diversity education training workshops.
Some of his notable training opportunities and committee memberships include: facilitating a Leadership Development Institution for President’s Cabinet and Extended Leadership, training multiple University divisions, facilitating workshops for the University System of Georgia and developing the curriculum and facilitating the most recent Staff Development Conference. Maurice also serves as one of the inaugural Inclusive Excellence fellows for the Office of Inclusive Excellence. The impact of his tireless effort to add value to the ambiance of the campus community, and his leadership continue to boost the University’s mentorship and student success initiatives. His dedication enhances the diversity and inclusion strategic efforts and his innovative ideas have impacted the campus community in a short period of time.
Lisa Costello, Ph.D.
Inclusive Excellence Award Professor, Writing and Linguistics, Director of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, College of Arts and Humanities
Dr. Lisa Costello, professor of rhetoric and composition in the Department of Writing and Linguistics is also the director of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program. Her teaching at Georgia Southern embodies Inclusive Excellence in its intersectional interdisciplinarity. Her students discuss rhetoric, cultural, and race theory, and analyze writing through those lenses in her writing and linguistics classes. She also teaches gender classes likes Gender in Global Contexts and Feminist Theories, in which her classes explore international issues and queer, Black feminist, Latinx, and indigenous theories of gender.
While serving as director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program in 2016, she founded a cross-college program (with colleagues in COSM and COE) called the Women’s Leadership Series (WLS). The WLS program offers three sessions per semester and is designed to further knowledge and skills around leadership. WLS has offered panels on work-life fulfillment and negotiation skills and has hosted major speakers like former Georgia Southern interim President Jean Bartels and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva with audiences of as many as 80-100 people. WLS will grow once more; and merge with the Office of Inclusive Excellence to become larger and more accessible to the University campus as an Employee Resource Group.
Dr. Costello works every day passionately to make a difference to create a better place welcoming all members of the Georgia Southern community, faculty, staff and students. She is also associated with the Commission of Women, and serves on the President Diversity Advisory Council (PDAC). Dr. Costello is passionate about working to promote diversity and inclusion with all of her work: teaching, research and especially service.
The Openness & Inclusion award recognizes those who exhibit the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion into practical action.
Openness & Inclusion Award Administrative Assistant, Waters College of Health Professions
Caroline Glover embodies the essence of Openness and Inclusion, and values the diversity of all people, communities and disciplines with an unwavering commitment to equity and inclusion. Diversity, equity and inclusion are part of Glover’s core values and are exemplified by her work at the University. One of her greatest abilities is building and maintaining relationships. Her efforts to facilitate transportation for outdoor education courses that have provided inclusive opportunities for students who would otherwise be unable to participate. She is extremely reliable and she always goes above and beyond to ensure the College staff have the resources available to better serve their diverse student body. In her role as an administrative assistant, Glover provides a welcoming environment to all visitors by listening to their needs and making a genuine effort to ensure that their concerns are addressed. She notes that we all face adversity at some point in our lives and seeks to better understand and embrace the Georgia Southern community. She has raised awareness of the need for diversity, equity and inclusion through her role as an administrative assistant and has highlighted the importance of continued improvement. The Waters College of Health Professions is extremely diverse in the faculty, students and programs. She makes each of us feel special and valued in our college. As an administrative assistant, providing a welcoming environment to all visitors remains at her core. We are fortunate to have her at Georgia Southern University. Caroline embraces differences among our entire campus community and creates a positive work environment because of her open attitude and respect for everyone.
Calvin Walton, Ph.D.
Openness & Inclusion Award Lecturer, Elementary and Special Education, College of Education
Dr. Calvin Walton demonstrates why he was nominated for the Award of Excellence through his committed actions as a valuable team member among the faculty within the College of Education and throughout the University. He consistently volunteers to lead as a presenter or point person for presentations to large audiences such as the Critical Race Theory – Interrupting Racism Workshop hosted by the Office of Inclusive Excellence in November 2019. He was also instrumental in developing the College of Education’s Preparing for Change training that was created through a series of workshops conducted by the consulting firm, Arredondo Advisory Group. About a dozen College of Education faculty and staff members participated in the June and February 2020 training. Dr. Walton was one of the DEI Committee members who participated in training, and designing and delivering a program that focused on creating a welcoming environment to the entire college in August 2020. He has immersed himself in the larger issues of diversity matters and collaborated with faculty members across the University in his service on the President’s Diversity Advisory Council.
Dr. Walton has experience teaching in large urban areas and broadened his expertise in assisting with the Urban Education Endorsement recently approved by the Georgia Department of Education and Professional Standards Commission. His involvement on our Urban Education Endorsement committee was instrumental to the conceptual ideas for the framework of the program and courses that needed to be included. The work involved several hours of meetings and preparation of documents and he was engaged at every stage of the process. He physically participated in meetings on the Statesboro Campus before our COVID restrictions. He works with students on the Armstrong Campus and advises them to consider the value of the Urban Education Endorsement as they contemplate their future opportunities in education. Dr. Walton, without a shadow of doubt, has a commitment to Openness and Inclusion in every space that he serves.
The Sustainability Award was designed to recognize those with a commitment to increase operational efficiency and effectiveness while maximizing financial capital and human resources to ensure the University’s long-term sustainability–investing in our people and processes to grow others.
Lissa Leeege, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biology, College of Science and Mathematics
Dr. Lissa Leege has directly and indirectly supported a record of excellence in sustainability, a record that includes serving as the founding director of the Office of Sustainability in the former College of Science and Technology (2008-2013) and transitioning to directing the Center for Sustainability [CfS] (2013-2020). Dr. Leege has been a critical component of several awards received by Georgia Southern. The University has appeared for the last nine years on the Princeton Review list of Green Colleges. Her other university-wide recognitions include the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee (one of six post-secondary institutions selected), 2017 Climate Leadership Awards Honorable Mention, and 2014 Top Affordable and Ecofriendly Colleges. Dr. Leege has been recognized for her efforts as a leader in sustainability efforts by the Keep Bulloch Beautiful Golden Can of Service Award, Sustainable Forestry Initiative Research Award, and the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper Volunteer Award.
Sustainability is a theme woven through Dr. Leege’s own research program and in the courses she teaches. She is a co-author on a paper, “Improving Learning Outcomes in Large Environmental Science Classrooms Through Short-Term Service-Learning Projects,” published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. She is a co-author on an environmental science textbook published by Pearson and adopted by several college campuses. Dr. Leege’s doctoral research was on the ecological impact of an introduced pine to the Lake Michigan sand dune system. She is a successful plant ecologist and recently received a sub-award from the City of Tybee Island (Coastal Incentive Grant) to evaluate best practices in dune restoration. The CfS under Dr. Leege developed a Sustainability Certificate program, an Environmental Sustainability Concentration, student service-learning programs, and a myriad of outreach programs. Sustainability in higher education needs more educators that can leave this kind of legacy. Our university has expanded in its efforts to sustainability, it is very evident that we have grown by leaps and bounds. Dr. Leege has poured her heart and soul into this growth and seeks no recognition for herself. Her work is truly admirable.
Community Engagement and Collaboration
The Community Engagement award was designed to give recognition to those who display outstanding community engagement in support of the University.
Community Engagement Award Communications Coordinator, College of Education
Cinnamon Dowd (’09, ’15) has served as the communications coordinator for the College of Education since 2016. She has also held the positions of Academic Advisor for art majors and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art. In her nine years as a staff member at Georgia Southern, Cinnamon has demonstrated “extraordinary commitment to collaborating and engaging with others in order to promote” Georgia Southern University.
Dowd builds community support for Eagle Educators by sharing stories of our students, faculty and staff on multiple platforms and by informing the community of the wide variety of educational opportunities offered by the College. She partners with a variety of colleagues from the University, local P-12 schools and the media to share engaging, interesting, and positive examples of the value that Georgia Southern brings to the community. She draws on her experiences as a former advertising manager and her expertise as a writer and event planner to bring value to other parts of the University as well. She mentors Public Relations student interns and works in partnership with the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences to assist with podcast production.
Cinnamon serves her colleagues at events such as First Fridays in downtown Statesboro, STEMFest, NASA Days, and EdCamp, and she is a representative on the Georgia Southern Staff Council. She also gets directly involved in community outreach on her own time. She has volunteered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Relay for Life, and The Humane Society of Statesboro among others. This Double Eagle explained that she takes on these responsibilities because she values the relationships with the community and the opportunities provided to our students. Cinnamon summed up her commitment to excellence in community engagement this way: “At the end of every day, if I have had an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, I call that day a success. I hope to continue to serve the University and create lasting relationships between Georgia Southern and the communities around us.”
Fayth Parks, Ph.D.
Community Engagement Award Leadership, Technology and Human Development, College of Education
Across the board, Dr. Fayth Parks is a true collaborator, committed to excellence, bright, personable, articulate and extremely competent. She is a strong community leader and advocate for all, and especially for individuals living with and affected by HIV. Dr. Parks founded and continues to serve as chair of the Rural HIV Research and Training Conference. The conference offers comprehensive professional development for health professionals who serve persons living with HIV/AIDS and offers prevention and intervention strategies especially designed for rural communities. We initiated the Rural HIV Innovation Award. The planning committee selects a submitted proposal for the award. Past recipients include researchers and/or practitioners who propose innovative solutions to address HIV/AIDS health disparities in the rural context. Additionally, we offer free registration for students who serve as conference volunteers. Georgia Southern students from COE’s Counselor Education program and Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health programs volunteer each year. The conference has grown from a regional to a national event.
She is also active on several advisory boards, councils and committees that focus on community. For example, as a team member of Georgia Department of Public Health (GA-DPH), Infectious Disease Division’s Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (Project ECHO), we use videoconferencing to conduct virtual clinics with community providers. This project addresses health disparities and service provider gaps. She is also a member of the Southeast AIDS Education and Training Center (SE AETC) Steering Committee (renamed Advisory Council). The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, a $3.8 million cooperative agreement to implement and manage the AETC program, which provides HIV training and technical assistance to providers in the eight-state U.S. southeast region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). Additionally, she serves on Georgia’s AETC Community Collaboration Committee located at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
Equally important is her commitment to Gullah Geechee communities. She is particularly interested in the Gullah Geechee people, located in the southeastern U.S., specifically the low country regions of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and north Florida. Brought to these coastal island shores from the West Indies and West Africa during the transatlantic slave trade, the comparative isolation in which large numbers of African captives lived on the barrier islands allowed for the retention of African-origin healing beliefs and practices that synchronized into African American healing traditions today. The retention of Gullah Geechee people’s worldview, language, religion, arts and crafts, verbal arts and healing practices make this comparative research possible. She produced a short documentary featuring interviews that highlight Gullah Geechee identity and cultural traditions. She has also advised community members on preservation strategies.
At the university level, she was honored to be a candidate for 2020 Faculty Senate president-elect. Presently, she also serves on the Academic Standards Committee (2020-2022). She is without a doubt one of the most collaborative and caring individuals.
The Collaboration Award recognizes and promotes those who are dedicated to service to their departments, students, faculty, other departments on campus, and/ or the surrounding community through communication, innovation, integrity and inclusion.
Kymberly Harris, Ph.D.
Collaboration Award Associate Professor, Elementary and Special Education, College of Education
Dr. Harris embodies the type of leadership that Georgia Southern University seeks to honor with this annual award. Dr. Harris serves Georgia by volunteering to serve in the Georgia Association for Positive Behavior Supports (GAPBS). As president of GAPBS she can always be counted on for solid reviews of our proposals, careful planning of our conference, and involving students from Georgia Southern University in the conference event. Her leadership and mentorship of her students is one of her greatest assets.
She served on the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) Statewide Summit on Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) since its inception, and had the opportunity to work throughout the state in the design and promotion of the PBIS standards, guiding documents and endorsement. Georgia is the first state in the country to offer this endorsement, and Georgia Southern was one of two institutions in the state to initially offer it. This partnership with the GaDOE has aided our college in remaining up to date with various initiatives and rule changes instituted by the GaDOE. Since the PBIS endorsement was created in collaboration with the GaDOE, our program has benefited from referrals by the State Department to those school districts who are interested in professional development for their PBIS teams.
She helped author an awarded grant in 2018 that provided $750,000 (renewable for five years) to the GaDOE to further training at the local school level. This provided the GaDOE with additional resource personnel to reach 80% of all school districts in the state. On a more local level, she serves as the university liaison for the First District Regional Educational Services (RESA) Georgia Learning Resource Services (GLRS) District 14 special education directors committee.
Dr. Harris was instrumental in the creation of the nation’s first teaching endorsement for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. She is a visionary and understands that for her current students to be successful in the future, they will need skills that are not covered in the traditional teacher preparation program. Many new teachers are leaving the profession due to their lack of skills teaching student behavior. Dr. Harris’ initiative to write the standards and present to the Professional Standards Commission will equip countless teachers in the future with the skills needed to effectively serve their students. Dr. Harris provides unwavering support to the PBIS unit at the Georgia Department of Education and repeatedly offers advice, expertise, and support for many initiatives from the state. Her support on our federal grant work has been valuable in expanding the reach of PBIS into new areas of Georgia. Her constant collaboration with her colleagues at the Georgia Department of Education, at sister colleges and universities, and with school districts is to be commended. There are very few educators with the passion to help others that Dr. Kymberly Harris possesses.
The Integrity Award honors those who practice ethical awareness in decision making and demonstrate an on-going commitment to integral ethical behavior and practices.
Lydia Cross, Ed.D.
Assessment Coordinator, College of Education
Dr. Lydia Cross demonstrates ethical awareness in decision making and a commitment to ethical behavior and practices at the University, College of Education (COE) and personally. She has consistently put the needs and goals of students first in the work she’s completed with COE and in her adjunct roles in COE and First-Year Experience.
Dr. Cross has worked in the College of Education since 2009, and in that time has made significant contributions to how graduate students are supported in the college. She recognized a need and was instrumental in developing the Graduate Academic Services Center (GASC). She observed that some online students felt disconnected from the COE and desired consistent communication from dedicated staff members and developed a plan to best support these students. As the previous director of the GASC, she showed honesty, trustworthiness and reliability by consistently following all University and COE policies and procedures. She made sure that students received consistent communication about courses, academic policies, deadlines, etc. as well as accurate information they could count on. Respect for others and their work, accountability, and setting a positive example for all she worked with were some highlights of her time with GASC. GASC continues today as a model of support for graduate students and programs.
Dr. Cross now serves as the Assessment Coordinator for the COE. Through this work she demonstrates integrity by ensuring accurate and complete data, processes and procedures are research-based, assessments are valid and reliable, and all required standards are met. Furthermore, her work with the COE accreditation processes exemplifies how she follows all procedures to protect the integrity of the program review and accreditation processes, engages in work without bias, maintains confidentiality, and is professional in all interactions. Lastly, her work to meet accreditation requirements allows her to communicate with program faculty on where the COE can improve the quality of education programs.
In addition to the examples presented above, Dr. Cross is an excellent colleague. She is a team player and team builder. She values quality and ensures that her work is accurate and reflects the highest standards.
Katie Brkich, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Elementary and Special Education, College of Education
Dr. Katie Brkich leads by example, so it’s no wonder she’s held so many high-stakes leadership roles, most notably as program director of the M.Ed. in elementary education. She has worked in the development, implementation, and assessments of the program to ensure our program of study is accessible and affordable. She never strays from what is ethically best for students first, then colleagues, community partners, and other stakeholders. Dr. Brkich always makes room for everyone’s voices to be heard and recognized, especially those who might normally be silenced or systemically shut out of conversations or decision making. In dealing with superiors, colleagues, students, and staff, Dr. Brkich works to create a safe, caring environment for differing ideas and perspectives, and does so while upholding high ethical ideals in situations of collaborative brainstorming, problem-solving, and/or decision making.
She also expects others to uphold ethical and respectful environments, but is willing to help others do so with grace and patience. Brkich models how to be accountable. She has taken on issues as varied as program integrity, racism, mental health, students’ rights, and non-tenure track promotion, and in each situation, she tried to show continual growth in her skills as a person of integrity.
This award recognizes administrator-level employees (e.g. Program Directors, Assistant/Associate Department Chairs, Department Chair, Directors, Executive Directors, Managers) who, through their extraordinary leadership over the last year, demonstrated exemplary responsive leadership to students, colleagues and other customers of Georgia Southern University. The award recognizes leaders who, in addition to fulfilling their administrative and managerial roles with dedication and creativity, demonstrate vision and an outstanding commitment to excellence. Nominations should describe specific actions taken by this leader and how these actions benefited faculty, staff, students and/or the surrounding community. The actions by the nominee must reflect the following six values of Georgia Southern: Collaboration, Academic Excellence, Discovery and Innovation, Integrity, Openness and Inclusion and Sustainability.
Kelly J. Crosby
Director of Risk and Compliance, Department of Audit, Risk and Compliance
Kelly Crosby, (CPA, CIA, CFE) joined the Georgia Southern community in October 2016 as the Chief Audit Officer at Armstrong State University. Co-workers describe her as a “servant leader who is approachable, optimistic, organized and thorough”. During the consolidation of Armstrong and Georgia Southern, Kelly co-chaired the Operational Work Group for University Policy Mergers and Handbooks. As an employee of Armstrong with a BBA from Georgia Southern, as well as family ties to the Statesboro institution, Kelly appreciated the delicate nature of the consolidation. Her knowledge and leadership helped streamline policies and procedures so that the new university would have a guide for operating far into the future.
In January 2018, when Crosby took on the role of Director of Risk and Compliance, at the time a new position within the University, she brought innovative ideas and put them in motion. One project, in particular, was her contribution and spearheading of the new policy regarding minors on campus; among many others.
Kelly always embodies calm leadership in the face of change and demand. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many plans and redirected responsibilities for all University employees and students. Kelly rose to the challenge in a heroic way by working to operationalize the University’s response as the CARES Center Contact Notification Team leader. She has organized and trained over 30 volunteers, staff, graduate assistants and faculty, developed decision trees with input from ITS and medical professionals, communicated frequently with executive administrators, and addressed countless individual inquiries with empathy and grace. Kelly has worked days, nights and weekends for months and always has been professional, positive and supportive. Her ability to problem solve and adapt has helped protect the lives and the livelihoods of our students, staff and faculty. Ever the risk manager, Kelly plans to document the CARES Center structure and lessons learned so that the University is protected and prepared should anything similar affect the institution in the future.
Kelly provides an outstanding level of service, professionalism and follow-through. Even with her newly added responsibilities during this pandemic, she continues to seek additional opportunities to lead and serve this campus community. Kelly remains a positive, reliable, inclusive, and truly phenomenal leader within the Georgia Southern community and to CARES CNT. Kelly has gone above and beyond and shown herself to be a trusted and valuable leader with the interests of the Georgia Southern family at heart.
Stephen P. Vives, Ph.D.
Department Chair/ Head AC, Department of Biology
Dr. Stephen Vives embodies the qualities of an exceptional leader in every way. He has built a remarkable department despite many challenges through the years, and he has the utmost respect and gratitude from every level and role of our sprawling and diverse academic community across three campuses. Steve’s hallmark as a leader is his openness, inclusion and transparency. Every member of the department, regardless of role, feels that they have a voice. He seeks their input on important departmental decisions and shares information about budgets and upcoming changes in direction from the upper administration in an effort to engage all in the decision-making and prioritizing resources. Dr. Vives is likely one of the most trusted administrators at the University. During the fifth-year department chair review, faculty shared that they appreciated his honesty and candor. Serving as department chair is probably the most difficult job at a university, so the fact that faculty continue to support him through these challenging times is impressive and speaks to Dr. Vives’ ability to balance the difficult information he must share with his faculty with the trust they place in him to represent the department’s needs with the upper administration. In all settings, Dr. Vives reliably makes decisions and recommendations based on honesty and thorough analysis. A pre-tenure faculty member stated: “Steve always maintains an open-door policy, no matter how busy and hectic things have been.” Steve leads by example in academic excellence as well. When online teaching became mandatory, Steve took the training offered by the CET and began to incorporate what he learned into departmental newsletters and Zoom faculty meetings (breakout rooms, online polling and more). It was thanks to his use of these new techniques that several faculty members began to incorporate them into their own classes.
Steve leads in Discovery and Innovation by creatively making resources available to encourage cutting-edge research and collaboration in the department. For example, when budgets are lean, he supports the needs of new faculty by working to garner research equipment that can be creatively funded and/or shared across research labs. Somehow, he continues to conduct critically important funded research as well. Steve was the lead PI on the million dollar three-year Ogeechee River Project (ending in 2019) – funded as a result of the disastrous 2011 Ogeechee River Fish Kill that occurred as a result of poor enforcement of industry regulations. The scope of the project was massive, involving two academic departments and an Augusta-based nature center to conduct the research, as well as a whole array of community and agency stakeholders. Steve conducted regular river monitoring trips and served as the lead spokesperson for this important grant. He was the face of science in a potentially hostile environment, and as always, rose to the challenge with grace and calm. With the team, he was able to provide a critically important scientific assessment of river water quality and address the challenges of the situation.
The Team Award recognizes a group of individuals comprised of three or more employees (staff and/or faculty) that contribute to one of the five strategic imperatives while demonstrating one of the six core values to help the University be the best place to work, learn, and succeed.
Members will receive a certificate, team photo with the President and a crystal plaque to be displayed in the office of the team leader.
The Enrollment Squad
Georgia Southern’s Enrollment Squad is a highly collaborative team whose purpose is to identify and overcome barriers to new student recruitment and continuing student success. The 17 members of the team represent six divisions of the University and include staff from key enrollment areas. The Enrollment Squad meets biweekly to proactively plan for upcoming events in the student life cycle from recruitment to graduation; review recruitment and enrollment data to monitor our progress toward enrollment goals and to make strategy adjustments as needed; problem-solve any issues that arise; and find new ways to improve enrollment-related procedures and processes. The Squad spent the majority of 2020 working on COVID-19 related initiatives to not only meet University requirements, but, more importantly, to ensure continuity of enrollment for our students. The Enrollment Squad developed a Continuity of Operations Plan (CoOP) in early March, created and monitored the University’s Enrollment Management reopening plan, and provided valuable discussion and feedback on processes and programming impacted or created because of COVID-19, including Virtual SOAR, student success initiatives, CARES Act funding, and the new freshmen Intent to Enroll summer survey.
This team gets results! In a national enrollment environment that saw nearly a 16 percent decline in overall enrollment, the work of this team was a major factor in Georgia Southern University increasing its overall enrollment by nearly 3.5 percent. They assisted by making tremendous efforts in all of the elements that go into recruitment, enrollment, and retention. Increasing enrollment leads to stabilized budgets and revenue, and further to greater institutional prosperity.
Enrollment Squad Members as of January 2021
Amy Ballagh (Co-Chair) Enrollment Management
Amy Smith (Co-Chair) Enrollment Management
Ashlea Anderson Information Technology Services
Chris Camiscioli University Communications and Marketing
Amy Clines Undergraduate Admissions
Cindy Durden Bursar’s Office
George Frederick Military & Veteran Services
Ryan Heins University Housing
Dorothy Kempson Liberty Campus
Christine Ludowise Academic Affairs
Tracey Mingo Financial Aid
Cassie Morgan Registrar’s Office
Chris Olson Institutional Research
Alexis Stinson Enrollment Services
Jennifer Syno Office of Advising
Ashley Walker College of Graduate Studies
Mark Whitesel Dean of Students Office
Years of Service
Years of Service recipients will receive a service year certificate and a service year lapel pin.
James Braselton, Associate Professor, Academic Affairs
Lorraine Braselton, Instructor, Academic Affairs
Diana Cone, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs
Elizabeth Downs, Professor, Academic Affairs
Mark Edwards, Professor, Academic Affairs
John Hatem, Professor, Academic Affairs
Gautam Kundu, Professor, Academic Affairs
Xiezhang Li, Professor, Academic Affairs
Catherine McGibony, Professor, Academic Affairs
Timothy McMillan, Associate Professor, Academic Affairs
James Smith, Professor, Academic Affairs
Stephen Vives, Dept Chair/Head AC, Academic Affairs
David Williams, Assoc/Asst Dean AC, Academic Affairs
Hayden Wimmer, Associate Professor, Academic Affairs
Jennifer Wise, Director Communications, Communications and Marketing
John Wright, Assistant Professor, Academic Affairs
Mary Yarbrough, Lecturer, Academic Affairs
Yuting Zou, Lecturer, Academic Affairs
A total of 10 committees reviewed the Faculty, Staff and Team awards. Six of the committees provided a peer-review process for the applicants and four committees were joint committees. The joint committees consisted of members from both the faculty and staff with equal representation. The charge to the following committees was to review application packets and decide on the Awards of Excellence winners. Each committee evaluated the applicants based upon a set criterion and rubric. Rubrics were designed per award.
University Awards Committee
Helen Bland, Co-Chair, Professor, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health
Ava Edwards, Co-Chair, Director of Alumni Relations
Theresa Duggar, Coordinator of Experiential Learning Instruction, Office of Career Services
Katrina Embrey, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Waters College of Health Professions
Andrew Hansen, Associate Professor, Department of Health Policy and Community Health, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health
DeAnn Lewis, Accounting Information Analyst, University Budget Office/Staff Council Chair-Elect
Trina Smith, Executive Assistant to the Provost, Office of the Provost/Staff Council Chair
Christine Whitlock, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science and Mathematics
Faculty Peer-Review Process; Staff Peer-Review Process
Teaching (Pillar) and Academic Excellence (Value) Faculty: Faculty Senate Development Committee Staff: Staff Council Committee for Teaching/Academic Excellence Awards
Research (Pillar) and Discovery and Innovation (Value) Faculty: Faculty Senate Research Committee Staff: Staff Council Committee for Research/Discovery and Innovation Awards
Community Engagement (also known as Service) (Pillar) and Collaboration (Value) Faculty: Faculty Senate Service Committee Staff: Staff Council Committee for Community Engagement/Collaboration Awards
Joint Committees of Faculty/Staff
Inclusive Excellence (Pillar) and Openness and Inclusiveness (Value) Counsel Review was conducted by the President’s Diversity Advisory Counsel.
Operational EE&S (Pillar) and Sustainability (Value) Committee Review was conducted under the direction of the AVP for Planning and Analysis in conjunction with the Director of the Center for Sustainability. These leaders identified individuals that have expertise in operational efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability that can ascertain the contributions of the applicants. The committee structure was a cross-section of faculty, staff, administrators, and students.
Student Success (Pillar) Committee Review was conducted by the Student Success Institutional Committee with representation from the Faculty Senate Student Success Committee.
Integrity (Value) Committee Review was conducted by the University Awards of Excellence Committee.
Team Award Committee Review was conducted by the University Strategic Planning Committee.
To be eligible to receive an Award of Excellence, an employee must be employed by the Georgia Southern University or the former Armstrong University for a minimum of three years at (the nomination period of August 1st) and must have received a rating of meets expectations or higher on the previous 2 performance evaluations.
All personnel up to, but not including, Directors and Chairs are eligible for nominations for Awards of Excellence. Directors in this instance does not infer to Academic Program directors, rather Directors within Divisional units.
An employee who has won a particular award in the past 3 years is not eligible to compete for that exact same award.
Certain Award Review Committees may have eligibility criteria that supersede these criteria, these are set as a minimum.