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College 2021 Faculty Awards

Each year, Dean Theresa Lee and members of her cabinet recognize faculty for their academic excellence in research, teaching, and outreach. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to host the 2021 faculty dinner and awards ceremony. We present the award winners in this online presentation, as well as below.

College Marshal Award

The College Marshal Award is the college equivalent of the university Macebearer and is, therefore, the highest college honor awarded to a member of the faculty. This year, we recognize Louis Gross, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, for his many contribution to our campus community, including his successful tenure as director of the National Institute of Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). Gross led proposals that brought more than $38M in external funding to build the internationally renowned center and stewarded it through more than 900 interdisciplinary publications. As NIMBioS director, he helped create collaborative opportunities for nearly 10,000 researchers and was a leader in promoting opportunities for researchers from under-represented groups.

In addition, Gross leads the Institute of Environmental Modeling, which is in its 24th year. His contributions to the national scientific community include AAAS’s influential vision and change report, serving as president of the Society for Mathematical Biology, decades of mentorship for UT graduate and undergraduate students, a textbook, and more. Finally, Gross shows dedication to the UT community with his service to the faculty senate, including serving his second term as president this academic year.

Lorayne W. Lester Award

This award honors Lorayne Lester, who served as associate dean and then dean of the college from 1991 to 2002, and recognizes outstanding service to the UT College of Arts and Sciences. This year, the college recognizes Melissa Parker and Vejas Liulevicius.

Melissa M. Parker has served as the director of advising services for more than 20 years. She served as the chair of the academic advising leadership group, liaison to the Office of the Provost, and earlier was the associate director for the Center for Undergraduate Excellence where she coordinated FYS 101 and living/learning communities. Parker’s knowledge of UT and service to the undergraduate students in the college and across the campus is legendary, in part because she has built within the College of Arts and Sciences the most diverse and comprehensive advising program, dedicated to the academic success of our undergraduates and the entire campus.

Vejas Liulevicius, professor of history, has served as director of the Center for the Study of War and Society for the past 13 years. In his tenure, he developed public programs, mentored graduate students, and received national funding that brought the Center from a struggling organization to a valuable asset to the university and the greater Knoxville community. Liulevicius developed an interdisciplinary humanities seminar on the legacy of war, which brought together faculty, graduate students, outside scholars, and community members to explore the many facets of war and created a lively venue for cross-disciplinary exchange. His work in the Center has helped graduate students by nurturing their interests, providing fellowship support, and cultivating their scholarship. As a result, his students have gone on to win 16 of the most distinguished national and international fellowships in academia – a remarkable record.

Academic Outreach Awards

The academic outreach awards recognize extraordinary contributions of faculty to the public that occur as an outgrowth of academic pursuits and are related to the university’s academic mission.

Faculty Academic Outreach Research Award

This award recognizes faculty whose research and creative activities advance knowledge through the pursuit of their scholarly interests while simultaneously addressing community problems and issues and benefiting the scholar, the discipline, the university, and society. This year, the college awarded the Academic Outreach Research Award to Mona Papeş, associate professor, in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

A world-renowned researcher, Papeş has developed an array of partnerships in support of community-based initiatives to protect threatened and endangered species, public lands, and resources. Papeş leverages the power of cutting-edge methods for both acquiring and analyzing spatial data to conduct research and disseminate her expertise through education both in the United States and under-resourced countries. Papeş is director of the Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL), housed in the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, where she developed a suite of core capacities making the SAL a go-to provider of expert analysis of spatial phenomena, such as the geographic distributions of at-risk species.

Papeş is a member of a UT-based team investigating the outcomes catastrophic fires in southern Appalachia, include the 2016 fires that burned more than 10,000 acres in and around Gatlinburg. Her outreach work also includes long-standing efforts to define and inventory the Knoxville Urban Wilderness by conducting ecological inventories to assess the benefits of the Urban Wilderness to local residents and facilitate a better understanding of the species composition and ecological communities within the urban wilderness.

Faculty Academic Outreach Service Award

Helene SinnreichThis award recognizes faculty who apply their knowledge to the benefit of the community by helping to seek solutions to community problems and issues. Defined more specifically, outreach service extends the faculty’s disciplinary expertise acquired through research, scholarship, and creative activity to the community. This year, the college awarded the Academic Outreach Service Award to Helene Sinnreich, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies and director of the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Program in Judaic Studies.

Since her arrival at UT, a series of antisemitic incidents occurred on- and off-campus. In response, Sinnreich worked to repair the pain these incidents caused in campus and Knoxville Jewish communities and improve education on these topics in hopes of preventing further incidents in the future. She is the liaison between campus and the Jewish community. She is called on to provide her perspective and expertise to the media. Sinnreich is the advisor to Hillel on campus and often serves as the point person for the university to help craft responses to antisemitic incidents. She has worked with the national Association of Judaic Studies to facilitate conversations with campuses represented in the group. Sinnreich goes above and beyond with her outreach in academic programming, including a presentation on antisemitism to local Christian clergy, interview with WUOT for Holocaust Remembrance Day, and extensive professional engagement with Knoxville’s Jewish community.

Faculty Academic Outreach Teaching Award

This award recognizes faculty who extend the university’s instructional capacity to provide learning opportunities to public audiences through workshops, public lectures, and other educational activities. Faculty may also perform outreach teaching by extending their classroom beyond the campus to engage their students in service learning. This year, the college awarded the Academic Outreach Teaching Awards to Millie Gimmel, associate professor in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures.

Gimmel teaches Spanish 494S, which combines an introduction to Hispanic culture in the United States with a supervised community service component in Knoxville. Students read and analyze relevant sociological and political texts and work with either local agencies to assist the Hispanic community or local cultural organizations to promote awareness of Hispanic culture. During the course, students use the skills they learn inside the classroom in context outside the university, which provides them a deeper understanding of Hispanic communities in the Knoxville area.

During the pandemic, Gimmel found creative and meaningful online service opportunities for her students, including development of a website for online lessons for English Language Learning classes, which her students created. They also offer translation services via the website that serves as a hub for what the students offer each semester to potential community partners. In 2021, Gimmel received a Social Justice Innovation Initiative grant from the College of Social Work to implement a project to improve participation and inclusion of Latinx families at Dogwood Elementary School. In addition, her SPAN 495 course was recently designated as an experiential learning course and approved for Vol Core. Finally, her work in this course helped develop a service learning certificate in Hispanic Studies, which recognizes students who choose to engage in study abroad, independent undergraduate research, and service-learning – three critical aspects of experiential learning.

Outstanding Service Award

Joanne Devlin received the Outstanding Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in advancing the mission and goals of the college. Devlin is a distinguished lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and associate director of the Forensic Anthropology Center (FAC). During the 2020-21 academic year, Devlin served as chair of the anthropology undergraduate committee where she completed the annual SACS accreditation report, reviewed and recommended changes to the department’s undergraduate curriculum, and worked with the timetable committee and other staff to schedule courses. She advises all anthropology double majors and minors and serves on one graduate student master’s committee. In her role at FAC, she serves on the Bass Endowment selection committee to review student applications for funding and the FAC research approval committee to review all internal and external applications to work with the collections and conduct research at the facility. Her service to the college includes faculty advisor for the Undergraduate Association of Forensic Sciences, an interdisciplinary group with an interest in forensics, and a member of the natural sciences curriculum committee. Finally, in service to UT, she is on the executive council of the Faculty Senate.

Distinguished Service Award

Andrew KramerProfessor and Associate Dean Andrew Kramer received the Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes a career of extraordinary service in advancing the mission and goals of the college and university. Kramer has served the college in many capacities, most notably as head of anthropology for 15 years and associate dean of personnel for seven years. He has also served on many college and university committees that developed policies that improved faculty diversity, compensation, support for the individual or family members, promotion processes, and support for faculty (or staff) facing difficult situations. Kramer is generous with his time in the service of fair and supportive assistance for members of the college community. He carried out this level of service while being a stellar, award-winning teacher and a successful researcher who also received an Award of Excellence for his curation of the installation on human evolution in the McClung Museum.

Diversity Leadership Awards

The Senior Diversity Leadership Award recognizes the extraordinary efforts of a senior-level staff or faculty member in support of the college and university’s commitment to diversity. This year, the college recognized Brian O’Meara, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB). O’Meara embodies active and committed diversity leadership. His leadership style combines the creation of a supportive environments, recognition that culture change must be community-driven, and a belief in data and that transparency can spur systemic change. His leadership efforts include long-standing work with the Department of Biology’s Women in Science group, organization of a Haines-Morris seminar series featuring women scientist leaders, chairing the EEB Diversity Committee, and serving as the architect of the department diversity plan with communal engagement. He organized seminars in which Title IX, Office of Equity and Diversity, and Bias Education Response Team administrators discussed available resources, roles and programs with EEB. O’Meara also spearheads diversity issues beyond UT. He has key leadership roles in academic societies, promoting awareness and change. For example, he and colleagues surveyed participants attending major scientific conferences to measure professional meetings’ climate. They analyzed the data, presented their findings at an annual conference, and published their results online. This study has been viewed by thousands and was written up in a popular science journal. His push to tackle harassment is changing the culture within academic societies. O’Meara and colleagues have since built on their findings to establish a joint Code of Conduct for academic societies. Groundbreaking work for the scientific societies involved.

The Junior Diversity Leadership Award recognizes the extraordinary efforts of a junior-level staff or faculty member in support of the college and university’s commitment to diversity. This year, the college recognized Solange Muñoz, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography who demonstrates commitment to social justice, antiracism, and an ethics of care throughout her scholarship, teaching, and service. Her research explores the housing strategies that people adopt to resist the negative urban policies they experience. In 2018, she received a Fulbright to research and teach in Argentina about eviction and housing rights; and she has written about the relationship of COVID and affordable housing in The Conversation to help her knowledge reach beyond academia. At the national level, the National Council for Geographic Education awarded her its Distinguished Teaching Award for her work in advancing diversity in the classroom, pushing her department to revamp its DEI efforts, as well as for authoring pedagogical articles that address and advocate for antiracism in teaching and educational policy.

Excellence in Research Award/Creative Achievement Awards

We seek to recognize faculty members who excel in scholarship and creative activity while also being fully engaged in the other responsibilities of faculty jobs, primarily teaching and service. To this end, the college honors faculty in three stages of their research careers – early, mid, and senior – with awards for excellence in research or creative achievement, as well as honoring a faculty with an award for Distinguished Research Career at UT.

Early Career Research Awards

Kirsten Gonzalez, assistant professor of psychology, explores systemic oppression experienced by marginalized people at the intersections of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and ethnicity. She has published timely empirical research on how LGBTQ people were impacted by the Pulse nightclub shooting; the election of Trump as an anti-LGBTQ president; the Trump presidential administration; and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Her scholarship illuminates the need for continued research on LGBTQ Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) using an intersectional framework for understanding their experiences and needs account for how racism, sexism, heterosexism and other oppressive social forces together affect mental health, well-being, and life chance.  For example, through qualitative in-depth interviews, her research has highlighted the structural inequities present that reinforce oppression and hinder access to healthcare of immigrant Latinx transgender people. Gonzalez and colleagues developed a conceptual framework for addressing White supremacy that is currently one of the top three most read papers in The Counseling Psychologist, a leading journal of her field. Since joining UT just four years ago, Gonzalez has received three prestigious, national awards in recognition of the significance and impact of her scholarship. Her work is increasingly regarded as essential contributions to the study of intersectionality and social justice in psychology.

Qiusheng Wu, assistant professor of geography, conducts research in the areas of GIS and remote sensing, specifically for hydrologic applications. His work has been funded by NASA, the US Army, and Microsoft, and he has published more than 58 articles. He is an associate editor for the journals Remote Sensing and Wetlands. Wu’s research also the development of open source software and training materials to democratize the use of satellite imagery, and his YouTube channel with tutorials has more than 11,000 subscribers from all across the world. Wu is a promising scholar and public educator who is enhancing the international reputation of the University of Tennessee.

Mid-career Research Awards

Patrick Grzanka, associate professor of psychology, examines how multiple systems (e.g., racism, sexism, heterosexism) collude in the production and maintenance of inequality—or, “intersectionality.”  His work has pushed the mainstream of psychology to center questions of social inequality in research and training. Grzanka publishes extensively in top-tier journals and has emerged as one of the leading scholars of intersectionality. He is routinely invited to speak at conferences and universities around the world about intersectionality, science, and social justice. His paper on using intersectionality responsibly was the most cited paper of 2017 in the top-ranked Journal of Counseling Psychology. Based on the exceptional impact of his scholarship and service, he received an early-career award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and was recently named a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. On our campus, he founded and co-directs the Intersectionality Community of Scholars (ICOS), and he has been a leading force in establishing UT as a prominent center of intersectionality studies in the US. Grzanka’s research breaks new ground in social science and social justice and has modeled new ways of doing public- and community-engaged scholarship.

Stephanie Kivlin, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, uses her research to address her overarching goal of linking microbial processes to large-scale ecosystem fluxes of carbon and nutrients under current and future climates. Her work takes a multidisciplinary genes-to-ecosystems approach, integrating microbial traits and gene expression with population demographics, community assembly, and overall ecosystem carbon storage. Her research trajectory is truly exceptional with significant with intellectual contributions across the fields of microbial ecology and global change biology. The quality and impact of her publications are evidenced by her significant grant funding, and exceptional leadership in research and service. Since 2018, Kivlin received more than $3.8M in external research grants, and published  more than 30 papers in high-profile journals. She broadens participation and provides opportunities for younger scientists. In 2020, she organized an open-access online Ecological Society of American Symposia Ecology Underground webinar that attracted more than 550 participants and founded Women In Soil Ecology networking group, which provides professional development and mentoring opportunities for female soil ecologists. She is a tireless advocate for other First-Generation students. Kivlin has an outstanding research success and her vision for transformation of the field of microbial ecology and its connections across ecosystem is a great achievement.

Senior Career Research Awards

Monica Black, professor of history, is among the most distinguished American historians of modern Germany of her generation. She recently published her second book, A Demon-Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors, and the Ghosts of the Past. Using what she calls a psycho-socio-cultural approach, she shows that post-war Germany expressed a sense of “collective guilt” in a surprising fascination with witches, faith healers, and other forms of irrationality—a sublimated attempt to grapple with the evils that their society had unleashed on the world, and in themselves. The book’s German translation has drawn great public attention for its innovative thesis and creative archival work, making an important contribution to that society’s ongoing attempt to grapple with the legacy of Nazism. It is also being translated into several other languages, which reflects Black’s notable ability to produce scholarship that meets the highest academic standards while bringing the insights of the humanities to a broad public.

Janice Musfeldt, professor of chemistry, focuses on the behavior of materials under extreme conditions. She is very well known for spectroscopic work in high magnetic fields, under pressure, and at very small sizes where quantum confinement becomes apparent. Her research has gained significant international attention and she is frequently called upon by the National Science Foundation and national user committees to provide insights on research directions and funding. Musfeldt’s publication record consists of an impressive 210 peer-reviewed publications, with an h-index of 31 and more than 5,000 citations.

Distinguished Research Career at UT

Shih-Lung Shaw, professor of geography, is an international leader in the field of Geography Information Science (GIS). He has published more than 150 articles, chapters and books, including a recent book on the mapping and spatial analysis of COVID-19. Currently, he is the elected president of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, which is the largest national and international consortium determining the future research and educational directions of his discipline. He holds the titles of UT Chancellors Professor, Alvin and Sally Beaman Professor of Geography, and Arts and Sciences Excellence Professor. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.

New Research, Scholarly and Creative Projects in the Arts & Humanities

Hilary Havens, associate professor of English, brings an extraordinary blend of literary and quantitative expertise to her work. She has figured out how to lift ink in 300-year old manuscripts, and she continues to master new digital tools that are helping a team of graduate students and other faculty deploy resources like OpenRefine, Google OCR, Omeka, Voyant, StoryMap.JS, Netlytic, and Gephi in their own work, on the “Austen Aloud” project, and in Maria Edgeworth Letters, a projected digital edition of Maria Edgeworth’s complete correspondence. In December 2020, she won a place in the National Endowment for the Humanities Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities, and, with Amy Elias (English) and Amir Sadovnik (computer science), received an NEH Connections Grant to create new digital humanities coursework UT.

James R. and Nell W. Cunningham Outstanding Teaching Award

The James R. and Nell W. Cunningham Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes faculty excellence in teaching. The honor is awarded to a tenured faculty member who demonstrates outstanding classroom teaching. This year, the college recognized Maria Stehle and Greg Stuart.

Maria Stehle, professor of German, is an accomplished teacher whose caring, inclusive teaching and mentoring bring considerable credit to the program, unit, and college. Her teaching and publications on pedagogy reflect her continued commitment to improving and updating pedagogical approaches in languages and humanities in general, including collaborative, cross-disciplinary teaching. For Stehle, it is crucial that her students know and understand what they are being told in society.

“As a humanities scholar, my focus is on narrative, image, and story. My aim is to teach my students how to critically analyze stories, who tells them, how, where and why and who listens” states Stehle, whose have described her as a beloved teacher, able, and talented. Her students adore her, and they feel very comfortable talking to and requesting advice from her. As one of her students writes: “Through her teaching, Professor Stehle emphasizes possibilities and connections. She encourages students to bring their perspective to the material but also to gain a new one…for many, Professor Stehle is an ally and role model, and this relationship and image is fostered by her ever-vibrant presence in the classroom.”

Greg Stuart, professor of psychology, demonstrates outstanding teaching inside and outside of the classroom.  Inside the classroom, Stuart is passionate about helping to cultivate students’ writing skills, and his course on understanding intimate partner violence requires 10 reaction papers, an all-essay exam, and a lengthy 13- to 15-page research paper. In spite of the intensive writing workload, his students have consistently praised this course. His course evaluations for the past three years have averaged 4.96/5.00, making him the highest rated faculty member for undergraduate teaching in psychology. Stuart is also an outstanding mentor with a lengthy record of successfully mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. His mentoring involves helping students and colleagues publish their work and to develop their own fundable programs of research. Stuart has more than 250 publications with his students and mentees, including more than 90 publications with undergraduate/research assistant collaborators and his students have won many campus and national awards and received many federally funded research grants.

Excellence in Teaching Awards

Each year, the college recognizes tenured and tenure-track faculty excellence in teaching by presenting both junior- and senior-level teaching awards. The lecturer excellence in teaching award recognizes lecturers.

Senior-Level Excellence in Teaching

Harry Dahms is a professor of sociology and a founder of the college’s interdisciplinary social theory certificate program. If you have ever wondered if you are living in The Matrix, Dahms’s classes are for you. Indeed, for many years he has taught a popular First Year Studies course on The Matrix Trilogy and Social Theory. It is one of several intriguing courses he teaches on theorizing society which include Sociology of Science Fiction; Control, Utopia, and Democracy; American Exceptionalism; Planetary Sociology; and Prejudice, Ideology, Modernity. Generally, students dread taking required theory classes, but students rave about Dahms’s courses and his ability to bring clarity to complicated texts. As one student wrote: “I feel I was given a perfect understanding of conceptualizing theory.” 

Junior-Level Excellence in Teaching

Bernard Issa is an assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures. His excellence as a teacher transcends his pedagogical practice inside the classroom. His teaching approach is based on two primary goals: enhance his students’ ability to communicate in social contexts that apply to their lives and promote intercultural awareness. Not surprisingly, students’ comments praise Issa’s consistency between his teaching philosophy and practice and his commitment to creating a practical, interactive, and collaborative classroom experience. Many of his students refer to his sincere interest in their personal development and the significance of his work as a mentor. In the words of a former student: “Dr. Issa always reminded us of the worth of remembering that behind teaching anything—especially foreign languages, the people are what make the difference between successful and unsuccessful teaching and learning.” He has made a lasting and meaningful impact on his students. Whether he is teaching undergraduates or helping to train and place graduate students, Issa an excellent example of an educator who cares deeply about teaching and goes above and beyond for his students and the university.

Kalynn Schulz, assistant professor of psychology, is committed to supporting all students, especially under-represented minority students and LGBTQ+ students who are likely to experience multiple challenges to their academic success. She creates an inclusive and supportive learning environment by setting clear expectations for respectful and open dialogue and inviting the perspectives of all students. She highlights the current work of scientists of many nationalities, racial/ethnic backgrounds, genders, sexual identities, and physical abilities. Schulz’s commitment to inclusive teaching and mentoring practices extends to her leading NIH-funded neuroscience research laboratory. She actively recruits students from historically marginalized groups to join her research team, and more than 80% of her 12 current undergraduate and graduate students belong to a racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual minority group. Schulz is the creator and director of the cross-institutional Scholarly Trainees Acquiring Research Skills (STARS) Undergraduate Research and Professional Development Program. The STARS program is a collaborative initiative between the psychology department at UT and the historically black university Tennessee State University (TSU) and is designed to promote the research success and future career goals of TSU students and to build a pathway to acceptance into the psychology doctoral program at UT. 

Lecturer Excellence Teaching Award

Elizabeth “Bess” Cooley, lecturer in the Department of English, is an accomplished and prize-winning poet as well as assistant director of the department’s creative writing program. Her teaching has received enthusiastic reviews from both students and faculty observers, particularly for her thoughtful and caring engagement with her students. She has served as director of the Young Writers Institute, a day-long workshop for high school students, and collaborated with the director of the FUTURE Program, a program that supports UT students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, on new initiatives for integrating the teaching of writing into that program. In a department with many gifted teachers, Cooley stands out for her dedication to her students and generosity to her colleagues, her experience in creative writing, and her eagerness to pursue learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom.

Anne Ho is a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics whose academic activities go far beyond what is expected of mathematics lecturers. Research is not normally expected, yet Ho has published several papers and given invited lectures in the area of math education. She received a National Science Foundation grant in math education in 2021. Ho has been active in outreach to K-12 mathematics teachers through Math Teachers’ Circles, helping to establish new local chapters, giving lectures, and organizing workshops. She oversaw a radical overhaul of the department’s Master of Mathematics program for working high school mathematics teachers. This program, which dates to the 1970s and was moved online six years ago, now has the highest enrollments in recent memory, if ever. For her efforts with graduate students, in 2019 Ho was awarded the UT Graduate Student Senate’s Graduate Professor of the Year award, and the Faculty Service award from the department’s Math Graduate Student Council.

David Kline, lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies, is a scholar of religion and race in the Americas and an exceptional teacher, scholar, and colleague. Teaching hundreds of undergraduates every semester, he addresses some of the most pressing challenges of our time with intellectual rigor and visceral care. Particularly in these years of increased isolation and anxiety, his teaching has been a model of flexibility, integrity, and generosity. As he wrote to his students amid unprecedented national (and global) crises and upheavals: “Studying is one of the most crucial things we can do in these times…we are now studying for our humanity, for our love of the earth and each other, and for our shared responsibility to create a livable and beautiful world for all.”

Mia Romano, Spanish lecturer, opens her teaching philosophy with this statement: “Teaching Spanish language, culture, and literature is incredibly rewarding while also fun.” This enthusiastic approach to teaching has gained Romano the admiration of both students and colleagues. Her classroom teaching combines rigor with personal engagement with her students and places a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of students with a variety of backgrounds, motivations, and needs. Since the moment Romano started teaching at UT, she has made a special point to make her classroom a safe and caring environment. As one of her students noted: “all you have to do to succeed in her class is say the words ‘I need help’ or ‘can you please explain this’ and Dr. Romano will move mountains until you understand.” Her consistent excellence in the classroom is evidenced by the remarkably strong student evaluations and praising teaching observation reports from her peers.

Faculty Advising Awards

The college recognizes excellence in undergraduate advising, providing rewards for past achievements and encouraging future resourceful and creative efforts in undergraduate advising. This year, the college recognized Yen-Chen Hao and Paul Gellert.

Yen-Chen Hao, associate professor of Chinese, received this award for her leadership as the chair of the Chinese program. In this role, she directs the Chinese language program, advises all Language and World Business Chinese majors, Chinese minors, advises the Chinese Culture Club, and oversees all China-related events. Since her arrival, she has led the expansion of course offerings and a steady growth of enrollment in Chinese classes and in the number of declared minors. Through her encouragement, mentorship, and support of highly-motivated students, the Chinese program has produced five Critical Language Scholarship winners, two Boren Scholars, two Fulbright recipients, and one semi-finalist. As one of her former students shared: “Having Professor Hao as my advisor has helped me achieve things I did not know were possible… She is truly someone who has impacted my career path and molded me into the person I am today.” A current master’s student at NYU states: “Dr. Hao always fostered an encouraging and welcoming environment in her classroom. I realized that I loved taking her Chinese classes – apart from being a great advisor, she is also the best world language teacher I’ve had…. Because of Dr. Hao’s mentorship, I’ve been able to successfully apply for many opportunities both during and after my time at UT, such as the W.K. McClure Scholarship, the UT ONSF Exploration Grant, and the Fulbright Creative and Performing Arts Award.”  We recognize Professor Hao for her extraordinary commitment to mentoring her students and her support that has guided so many undergraduates to do extraordinary things. 

Paul K. Gellert, associate professor of sociology, is recognized for his excellence as a mentor to undergraduates both in sociology and global studies. Under Gellert’s leadership, the global studies program (GSP) moved from being an interdisciplinary studies concentration to a major housed in the Department of Sociology. As his nominator states: “He has made this a student-centered major, focusing on inclusion and mentoring.”  While opportunities for engagement among students have been more limited during COVID, Gellert has increased student engagement through the global studies club, which meets regularly, including faculty, international speakers, and other student organizations. In addition, he has created a two-year-long series of panels bringing international and UT-based scholars together to discuss issues of global concern, with significant participation from undergraduates. Gellert meets with each GSP student consistently, focusing not only on curriculum, but also the exploration of career possibilities. In addition, he has served as mentor to number of College Scholars where he has guided them through ambitious research projects resulting in finished thesis projects as well as the publication of articles and the foundation for graduate work. As the director of global studies, he has created a third concentration focusing on language learning, a capstone course for GSP majors, and opportunities for students seeking internship experience.  We recognize Professor Paul K. Gellert for his excellence and commitment to undergraduates, providing them with intellectually stimulating experiences with their peers, faculty, and scholars across the globe.