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Georgia Southern University Celebrates Faculty and Staff Excellence

Georgia Southern President Kyle Marrero (far right) stands with the winners of the 2024 Faculty and Staff Awards.

On May 1, Georgia Southern University celebrated the outstanding achievements of its faculty and staff during the annual University Awards of Excellence and Years of Service Recognition celebration, held at the Fine Arts Auditorium on the Armstrong Campus in Savannah. 

This year, the awards were particularly competitive with 128 entries, from which 14 individual faculty and staff members, along with one team, were selected and honored. In addition, 446 employees from five years to as many as 40 years of service to the University were honored for their dedication and commitment to Georgia Southern.

“The Faculty and Staff Awards of Excellence Celebration is designed to identify and celebrate individuals that make outstanding contributions to the success of Georgia Southern University,” said Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero. “Through this celebratory awards process and ceremony, we are promoting employee engagement and recognizing individuals and teams who are demonstrating behaviors that embrace the strategic plan and represent University values and success.”

The Awards of Excellence are meticulously aligned with the University’s Strategic Pillars and Values, encompassing up to 25 annual awards divided among faculty, staff and teams. Winners are awarded $1,000 for professional development.

Student Success Award

  • Staff – Tory Candea, Clinical Coordinator, RiteCare Center, Waters College of Health Professions 
  • Faculty – Loren Mathews, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, Department of Biology, College of Science and Mathematics 

Teaching Award

  • Staff – Kira Jatoft, Assistant Director for Sustainability and Leadership, Office of Leadership and Community Engagement 
  • Faculty – Salman Siddiqui, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing

Research Award

  • Faculty – Bridget Melton, Ed.D., Professor of Exercise Science, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Waters College of Health Professions

Discovery and Innovation Award

  • Faculty – Sevki Cesmeci, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing

Inclusive Excellence Award

  • Faculty – Virginia Wickline, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences 

Openness and Inclusion Award

  • Faculty – Kip Sorgen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Leadership, Technology & Human Development, College of Education

Operational Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Sustainability Award

  • Staff – Jenna Bayto, IT Support Manager, Department of Information Technology Services

Community Engagement Award 

  • Faculty – Edward Mondor, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biology, College of Science and Mathematics 

Collaboration Award

  • Staff –  Dyana Van Tassell, Administrative Assistant, Department of Biology, College of Science and Mathematics 
  • Faculty – Barbara King, Undergraduate Coordinator, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Leadership Award

  • Staff – Corine Ackerson-Jones, M.Ed., Director TRIO Student Support Services, Office of Organizational Effectiveness, Leadership Development and Inclusive Excellence  
  • Faculty – J. Lowell Mooney, Ph.D., Director of Graduate Programs/MBA Director/Professor of Accounting, Parker College of Business

Team Award

  • Facilities Planning, Design, and Construction
    Team Members: 
    • Tori Brannen
    • Kim Brown
    • Rusty Cartee
    • Toni Davis
    • Billy Harris
    • Mitch Mock
    • Pliny Ruluked
    • Matthew Shingler
    • Brian Sowell
    • Michelle Stewart
    • Tim Stillwell
    • Kirk Tatum
    • Chuck Taylor
    • Sandi Wilkinson

For more information on the awards and recipients, visit


Posted in Awards and Recognition, Faculty Highlights, Press Releases