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Award winners, retirees recognized during general faculty meeting

April 29, 2015

Awards of distinction were  presented and retiring faculty recognized during Marshall University’s spring general faculty meeting held yesterday at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

The meeting began with  remarks from  Interim President Gary White and Faculty Senate Chair Larry Stickler.

Three people received the Distinguished Artists and Scholars Award. To be eligible for the awards, faculty members must either be tenured or hold tenure-track appointments. The purpose of the award is to recognize distinction in the fields of artistic and scholarly activity on the part of the Marshall faculty. The senior recipients of the Distinguished Artists and Scholars Awards receive $2,000 apiece while the junior recipient receives $1,000. The Distinguished Artists and Scholars Award were given to:

  • Dr. Andrew Nichols, associate professor, Weisberg Division of Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, senior recipient for Sciences and Technology
  • Dr. Christopher White, associate professor, History, College of Liberal Arts, senior recipient for Arts, Social Sciences, Humanities, Education and Business
  • Dr. Carl Mummert, assistant professor, mathematics, College of Science, junior recipient in all fields

Dr. Andrew P. Nichols, associate professor of engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, has been named the Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award winner for 2014-2015.

Nichols will receive $5,000 through a grant from Charles B. and Mary Jo Locke Hedrick. The award is named in honor of Charles Hedrick’s father, Charles E. Hedrick, a former history professor and later chairman of the Graduate Council, and one of the founders of Marshall’s graduate program.

The  Center for Teaching and Learning announced the Hedrick Award and two others honoring faculty members:

  • Marshall & Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award – Dr. Isaac W. Wait, associate professor of engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences
  • Pickens-Queen Teacher Award – Dr. Lori Howard, assistant professor of special education in the College of Education and Professional Development; and Dr. Dawn M. Howerton, assistant professor of psychology, and Dr. Rachael Peckham, assistant professor of English, both in the College of Liberal Arts

Here is a brief look at the awards and the winners:


Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award

This award recognizes a full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty member who has a minimum of seven years teaching experience at Marshall and a record of outstanding classroom teaching, scholarship, research and creative activities.

AndrewNicholsDr. Andrew P. Nichols has been teaching engineering at Marshall since August 2007, when he was hired as an assistant professor. He currently is program director with the Nick J. Rahall II Appalachian Transportation Institute’s Intelligent Transportation Systems, a position he has held since April 2011.

Nichols earned his bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in May 2000 from West Virginia University; his master of science degree in civil engineering in December 2001 from Purdue University; and his doctorate in civil engineering in May 2004, also from Purdue.

“He is an extremely valued member of our engineering faculty,” said Dr. Richard F. McCormick, a recently retired professor of engineering at Marshall. “He is the one faculty member who is held up to us all as being an example of an outstanding teacher as well as an outstanding researcher. Our dean, Dr. Wael Zatar, refers to the ‘Dr. Andrew Nichols model’ when discussing expectations with our younger faculty members.”

Nichols says his teaching philosophy is “to deliver course content and create assignments in a way that leads to student engagement and students learning. That environment tends to involve hands-on activities, real-world examples and classroom discussions to promote critical thought.”

He is both an applied researcher and a consultant in the area of transportation engineering.

“So, most of the work that I do is hands-on in the sense that it gets implemented on the roadway, affecting motorists every day,” he said. “I can’t design a solution to a traffic problem—for example, a congested intersection—without going to the field to see how drivers are performing and determining what is causing the congestion.

“Likewise, I don’t know if the solution implemented is working until I observe it in the field. Due to my background, it is quite easy for me to incorporate these experiences in the classroom so that the students get a feel for the real-world scenarios they might deal with. I also try to incorporate real-world problems in homework problems and class projects.”

Nichols grew up in Point Pleasant. After entering academia, he always wanted to return close to home to help educate students in the Appalachian region. He says he assumed that would be at Ohio University, West Virginia University Tech or West Virginia University, since there were not any other engineering programs closer.

“Fortunately, Marshall brought back engineering, which provided the ideal situation,” he said. “As a young faculty member, it is exciting to see new buildings being constructed and  enrollments trending up. There aren’t many places where you can truly have an influence on a program because they are either established or have many faculty members. I look forward to spending the rest of my career at Marshall University to educate the students of West Virginia and the Tri-State area.”

Dr. Asad Salem, chair of the Weisberg Division of Engineering and Nichols’ supervisor, says the types of projects Nichols works on are application-oriented and typically deal with technologies and management strategies that affect motorists every day.

“The prime example is the management of the traffic signal system in Huntington, which is now performing at a much higher level since his research group has taken it over,” Salem said.

Marshall & Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award

This award includes a $3,000 stipend. All tenured or tenure-track faculty members at or above the rank of assistant professor who have six or more years of teaching experience, at least three of which are at Marshall, are eligible.

IsaacWaitDr. Isaac W. Wait has been teaching at Marshall since 2009, when he was hired as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 2011. Wait received his bachelor of science in civil engineering in 2000 and his master of science in civil engineering in 2001, both from Brigham Young University; and his doctorate in civil engineering in 2005 from Purdue University.

Wait says he has learned a lot about the need for a “personal touch” in teaching over the past few years.

“When I just finished my Ph.D. and entered the teaching profession for the first time, I would have told you that the most important thing engineering students need is well-organized content delivered in a clear and sequential manner,” Wait said. “After 10 years, however, I have come to realize the critical importance of personal connections in supporting the learning experience.

“Even analytical, logic-oriented engineers can benefit from the influential ‘soft’ factors such as an engineering discussion with an instructor after a difficult exam, an in-class learning activity where they partner with another student and make a new friend, or meeting the neighborhood residents who will be personally affected by the design project a student is working on. Engineering education benefits when there is a personal touch in the process.”

About Wait, Dr. William E. Pierson, professor and former chair of the Weisberg Division of Engineering, said, “From my personal observations as a colleague and during my time as division chair, I know that Dr. Wait has earned the respect and appreciation of other engineering faculty, engineering students and the administration of the college. Dr. Wait is not only energetic and enthusiastic, he is inventive and resourceful in his efforts to improve teaching and to provide an enriching learning environment for his students.”

Pierson also shared the following quotes from some of Dr. Wait’s students:

One student said, “Dr. Wait is an outstanding teacher. He wants his students to learn but he also wants to push them to work hard. He knows they are capable and seeks to show students just how capable they are. My favorite thing about Dr. Wait is how he gives more freedom to students in their work.”

Wait says he does his best to push students beyond their comfort zone, while creating a learning experience that is both rigorous and demanding.

“And yet, students don’t seem to resent being pushed, which makes me very happy,” he said.

Pickens-Queen Teacher Award

Each of these three award winners receives a $1,000 stipend. The award honors outstanding junior faculty. All faculty members teaching on a full-time, tenured or tenure-track appointment, who are at the instructor or assistant professor rank and who have completed one to five years of service at Marshall are eligible.

LoriHowardDr. Lori Howard came to Marshall in August 2012, when she was hired as an assistant professor, a position she still holds today. Previously, Howard was an adjunct instructor/university supervisor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders in 1982 from the University of the Pacific; her master’s degree in audiology in 1985 from Northern Colorado University; and her doctorate in educational psychology in 2001 from the University of Virginia.

“To the benefit of all of us, Dr. Howard’s expertise as a teacher extends beyond her classroom and students,” said Dr. Lisa Heaton, professor of elementary and secondary education.

One example of her excelling beyond the classroom, Heaton noted, is Howard’s depth of knowledge during grant-related collaborations.

When asked how has she learned from experience and evolved as a teacher, Howard said, “At the risk of sounding like a greeting card or a poorly written self-help book, what I have learned through self-reflection is how profound the simplest concepts can be when teaching. These include: knowing our learners, seeking help from others, remembering I do not know everything, and setting high expectations for students. Most importantly, always be kind to yourself and others.”

DawnHowertonDr. Dawn M. Howerton has been at Marshall since 2012, when she was hired as an assistant professor, which is her current position.

Howerton earned both her bachelor’s (2004) and master’s (2007) degrees in psychology from California State University and her doctorate in experimental psychology in 2012 from the University of Tennessee.

Howerton said she strives to help her students master three major skills in her courses.

“One, development of active learning and critical thinking; two, development of an appreciation for diversity; and, three, application of psychology to social issues and real-world problems,” she said.

“My work is informed by the social psychology of attitudes and prejudice, the psychology of women and gender, and legal principles pertaining to these areas,” she added.

Howerton says she recently has become interested in the role that ambivalent sexism and aversive racism play in the allocation of health care to women and minorities.

Dr. Marianna Footo-Linz, chair of the Department of Psychology, describes Howerton as an “invested teacher who truly believes in her students.”

“Her eyes light up when she talks about those moments when things click,” Footo-Linz said, “when they [students] take the lesson beyond the classroom and apply it to their lives or become active in a cause.”

RachaelPeckhamDr. Rachael Peckham has been at Marshall since 2009. Previously, she was a graduate teaching assistant at Ohio University from 2004 to 2009.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature and creative writing in 2002 from Hope College; her master’s in creative writing: creative nonfiction in 2004 from Georgia College & State University; and her doctorate, also in creative writing: creative nonfiction, in 2009 from Ohio University.

Dr. Kelli Prejean, an associate professor of English, observed Peckham’s English 652 Special Topics course, The Creative Writing Market: Studies and Contemporary Practice in Multiple Genres, in October 2012. She described Peckham’s class as “structured, yet student-centered,” with a nature that “reveals her efforts to provide courses that professionalize our students and help them publicize their creative works.”

“She has an excellent rapport with students, and students obviously respect the creative and professional activities in which they are engaged,” Prejean said.

Peckham acknowledged that her writing classroom is structured “around collaboration.”

“As a creative writer, I can’t help but borrow from the best arts of the workshop model—namely, the diverse feedback and the access it grants the student to a broad readership,” Peckham said. “Given this close collaboration, it is crucial that my classroom be a ‘safe space’ in which sensitivity is exercised and expression protected. My creative writing students, in particular, are given carte blanche to write on any subject, as long as a burning curiosity or question propels them to the page.”

Two people  received the John and Frances Rucker Graduate Adviser of the Year award, which acknowledges the contributions of Marshall’s outstanding graduate advisers. They are:

  • Dr. Dennis Anderson, Distinguished Professor of Education, Leadership Studies, Graduate School of Education, South Charleston campus
  • Dr. Linda Spatig, Professor, School of Education, Advanced Educational Studies, Leadership Studies, College of Education and Human Services, Huntington campus

Dr. Allison Carey, assistant professor, Department of English, received the Sarah Denman Faces of Appalachia Fellowship Award.

Two people were awarded the Distinguished Service Awards, announced at the faculty meeting. They are:

  • Dr. Karen McComas, professor of communication disorders and interim executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Dr. Linda Spatig, Professor, School of Education, Advanced Educational Studies, Leadership Studies, College of Education and Human Services

In addition, 20 retiring faculty members, who have a combined 491 years of service, were recognized. They include:

  • Steven Banks, Education, 31 years of service
  • Michael Brookshire, Finance/Economics, 28 years of service
  • Joy Cline, Nursing, 14 years of service
  • Wayne Coombs, Counseling, 21 years of service
  • Harold Wayne Elmore, Biology, 41 years of service
  • Susan Frank, Communication Disorders, 12 years of service
  • Kristine Greenwood, Communication Studies, 24 years of service
  • Susan H. Jackman, Biochemistry & Microbiology, 24 years of service
  • Calvin Kent, Management/Marketing/MIS, 21 years of service
  • Susan Linnenkohl, Dietetics, 24 years of service
  • Stan Maynard, Education, 35 years of service
  • Richard McCormick, Engineering, 13 years of service
  • Richard M. Niles, Biochemistry & Microbiology, 22 years of service
  • Nicola Orsini, Physics, 35 years of service
  • William Pierson, Engineering, 16 years of service
  • Celene Seymour, Director of South Charleston Library, 20 years of service
  • John Teel, English, 48 years of service
  • Allen Wilkins, Finance/Economics, 30 years of service
  • Everett B. Wray III, Cardiovascular Services, 5 years of service
  • Laura Wyant, Leadership Studies, 26 years of service


Click to view photo gallery from the event.