The 2019 College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Awards banquet took place Thursday, December 5 at the Holiday Inn Downtown. From Diversity Leadership to awards in research, advising, and teaching, the annual awards banquet honors faculty excellence in all areas of the college mission.
“As we recognize particularly outstanding faculty this evening, I want to thank all of our faculty in the college, individually and collectively, for everything you do— your teaching, research, service on college and university committees, thesis committees, and tenure and promotion committees, and service to the public through community engagement,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the college and emcee for the awards ceremony. “A college can be no greater or stronger than its faculty and the College of Arts and Sciences is a college of excellence because each of you has a passion for our profession and you work selflessly to make our students, departments and university the best they can be.”
Angie Batey, associate dean for diversity, presented the Diversity Leadership Awards.
Althea Murphy-Price, professor in the School of Art, received the Senior Diversity Leadership Award. Within the School of Art, Murphy-Price chairs the Diversity Committee, which seeks to implement new goals, initiatives, and strategies that promote diversity and are relevant to sustaining the welcoming environment within the department. Murphy-Price served on the UT Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and currently serves on the Africana Studies Program Advisory Board. Murphy-Price is engaged in establishing a student organization in the School of Art and the College of Architecture and Design for all students of color. The Collective, as they are called, are engaged in a variety of diversity and inclusion efforts. Due in large part to her efforts and leadership, students feel they have a voice, they are more respected, and are more connected to the university. She maintains a strong creative practice, she is a committed teacher, and is deeply committed to service, especially related to diversity and inclusion. She has been and continues to be a leader in advocating for diversity in the School of Art and the university.
Brandon Winford, professor in the Department of History, received the Junior Diversity Leadership Award. Since joining the history department, Winford has worked to create meaningful campus discussions about diversity, exemplifying the value of bringing historical perspective to the challenges we face today. In addition to excellent teaching and scholarship on African-American history, he has served the campus and community by creating a film series, Black History Matters, giving public lectures, and serving as an advisor on public history projects. Winford co-organized the Fleming-Morrow Endowment, supporting a lecture series that brings leading African-American historians to campus and provides scholarship funds for exemplary students. Winford’s impressive leadership has helped our campus community to think more carefully and thoughtfully about the value of diversity, and has done much to make UT a great place to study African-American history.
Missy Parker, director of advising services for the college, presented the next set of awards for excellence in undergraduate advising.
Joanne Devlin, distinguished lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, received the first Advising Services Award for her leadership as the director of undergraduate studies. In this role, she oversees all students’ progression to the major, reviews all petition requests, and meets with prospective students. She conveys the sense that majors are a part of small supportive academic program whether in her role as instructor of a core introductory course or in one on one advising conversations. Devlin’s commitment to advising and mentoring is demonstrated by her positive impact on individual student experiences as well as the creativity and innovation she is bringing to the academic program itself. In direct response to students’ expressed interest, Devlin as led the development of the new forensic concentration including the co-developing and co-teaching of a new marquee course, “Scene of the Crime: Demystifying Forensic Science.” She serves as advisor for a new student organization, Undergraduate Association of Forensic Sciences, and she has created experiential learning opportunities through crime scene exercises.
Anthony Welch, associate professor in the Department of English, received the second Advising Services Award for his work as director of undergraduate studies, which comes with the central responsibility of advising the department’s majors and minors. According to Allen Dunn, English department head, Welch brings the same thoughtfulness, care, erudition, and scrupulosity to his work with students that has made him a prize-winning Milton scholar. He works with the curricula the way he knows and teaches Paradise Lost, with an expertise bred of attentive close reading as well as a desire to make them clear and accessible to students. Welch is not just skillful at explaining what a student needs to graduate, but why and how courses contribute to their academic and career goals. He is not just renowned for his face-to-face conversations with students. His emails are legendary. As one nominator shared, “They are detailed, considerate, and always student-centered.” Students clearly appreciate the time and energy he invests in advising as demonstrated by their testimony. One student states: “At such a large university, it be can be easy to feel like another number. Professor Welch made me feel supported and seen.” Another shares: “I have seen Welch in action both inside and outside of the classroom and am impressed by his dedication to engaging students, providing encouraging and substantive feedback, and forming” lasting relationships.
Larry McKay, associated dean for research and facilities, presented the award for faculty excellent in research and creative achievement in early career, mid-career, and senior career, as well as an award for a distinguished research career at UT.
John Kelley, assistant professor in the School of Art, received an Early Career Award for Research and Creative Achievement. Kelley is a multi-faceted artist who creates entrancing, mesmeric video, animation, and sound art. In a short time, Kelley has built a remarkable creative research record. Since 2015, his creative work has been featured in a staggering 77 exhibitions and screenings in 26 countries, including some of the most prestigious animation and video art festivals in the world, receiving prestigious awards and distinctions. Kelley’s sound art and multi-artist collaborations have been featured in premier museums and galleries in the US and abroad. He is also in high demand for professional work to produce music and visuals for films, music videos, and live music performances. Kelley’s influence and stature in his field is clearly very strong and growing. His presence has brought a new and exciting creative dimension to the School of Art.
Jian Liu, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, also received an Early Career Award for Research and Creative Activity. Liu was hired in 2015 raising to the top among dozens of highly qualified candidates. Since his arrival at UT, Liu has far exceeded expectations, publishing 58 manuscripts in prestigious journals, such as Nature Physics, Nature Communications, and the Physical Review Letters. Liu’s expertise in oxide electronics, an internationally active area of research within condensed matter physics, has broad potential for device applications. As a rising star in his field, Liu deservedly received a prestigious NSF CAREER award.
Charles Sanft, associate professor in the Department of History, received a Mid-Career Award for Research and Creative Activity. Sanft published his second book, Literate Community in Early Imperial China, which, along with an impressive record of articles and conference presentations, establishes his reputation as one of his generation’s leading scholars of early Chinese history. Sanft has been recognized with UT’s Jefferson Prize and two of the most prestigious and competitive national fellowship awards in all fields of the humanities. He serves on the editorial board of the leading journal in his field, and regularly presents his work at top-tier institutions in the US and in Asia. Sanft has accomplished all this while being a creative teacher and a valuable mentor to his colleagues, while also providing great service to the department, college, and university.
Elizabeth Derryberry, associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, received a Mid-Career Award for Research and Creative Achievement. Derryberry’s research focuses on passerine bird evolution and bird songs – important topics that are notoriously difficult to study. Her exciting project on the effects of human-mediated noise in urban environments on bird song demonstrate both changes in song parameters in response to noise and consequences for ecosystem fitness. Derryberry is the author of more than 50 highly cited papers and an associate editor for two prestigious journals: Evolution and Journal of Animal Behavior. Her work is top-notch, broad-thinking, impactful science at its best. She is an outstanding student mentor and passionate about her outreach to increase opportunities for girls and women in science.
Nancy Henry, the Nancy Moore Goslee Professor of English, received a Senior Career Award for Research and Creative Achievement. Henry is an internationally recognized scholar of Victorian fiction who specializes in the British novelist George Eliot and in the relationship between literature and finance during this period. Henry’s reputation as one of world’s leading Eliot scholars is based on her four books, seven edited collections, and numerous articles. These include her critically acclaimed The Life of George Eliot: A Critical Biography, and, most recently, Women, Literature and Finance in Victorian Britain: Cultures of Investment. One critic noted “In Henry’ hands, familiar novels become new again as heretofore unknown facts illuminate characters and bring incidental details to life. She describes it as “A masterful contribution to Victorian Studies.”
Andrew Steiner, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, received a Senior Career Award for Research and Creative Achievement. Steiner studies the nature of matter at extremely high energy densities. He pioneered theoretical efforts to constrain the physics of the atomic nucleus based on astronomical neutron-star observations. His study on the tidal deformability of neutron stars served as benchmark for the recent detection of gravitational waves emanating from the cataclysmic collision of two neutron stars. Steiner is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed publications, which have garnered more than 5,400 citations. He received two NSF awards, including the CAREER award, and grants from the DOE and Smithsonian, altogether raising close to $1 million in research funding. Steiner’s science has consistently been of the highest quality, had a strong impact on nuclear astrophysics, and encouraged growth in emerging new areas.
Steven Wilhelm, professor in the Department of Microbiology, received the Distinguished Research Career Award. Wilhelm has pioneered the study of the roles of viruses in aquatic biogeochemical cycles and the development of a better understanding of factors that constrain toxic cyanobacteria. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology and the Association of the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. His current sponsored funding totals $3.5 million. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications. His research on Great Lakes harmful algae and seawater giant viruses has received broad national press, including from USA Today and The Atlantic. Wilhelm is a model teacher-scholar who integrates cutting-edge research with graduate and undergraduate student education.
Mary Campbell, associate professor in the School of Art, received the New Research, Scholarly, and Creative Projects in the Arts and Humanities. Campbell is a vital member of the School of Art. Her leadership in art history has been transformational in focusing on the significant contributions of diverse artists. Campbell’s proposed project, the first monograph on Beauford Delaney and his art, is a natural extension of her years of scholarly research and has the promise to add a significant new dimension to her career while also bringing critical and extensive national and international recognition to the School of Art and the University of Tennessee. Beauford Delaney and his younger brother Joseph, both Knoxville natives, followed divergent paths to artistic success. As a recognized scholar of Beauford’s work, Campbell is a featured speaker for the UT Humanities Center’s upcoming symposium “In a Speculative Light: The Arts of James Baldwin and Beauford Delaney.” Campbell has also contributed a chapter to the catalogue that will accompany the Knoxville Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition, Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door, which examines Delaney’s drawings and paintings of civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
Alex Bentley, professor and head of the Department of Anthropology, Jon Garthoff, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, and Garriy Shteynberg, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, received the Interdepartmental Collaborative Scholarship and Research Award. The recipients collaborated on a groundbreaking paper on how, when, and why people learn from one another. In their paper “A theory of collective learning: On the psychological foundations of common knowledge and cognitive collaboration” they argue that while learning from others has long been a cornerstone of social and biological sciences, learning with others has been underappreciated in terms of its importance to human cognition, cohesion and culture. The author’s thesis provides a psychological answer (Shteynberg) to a long-standing philosophical problem (Garthoff), with implications for human evolution (Bentley).
Chuck Collins, associate dean for academic programs, presented awards for excellence in teaching and the James R. and Nell W. Cunningham Teaching Award.
Nitin Jain, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, received the Senior Award for Excellence in Teaching. Jain shines through his focused efforts on one course BCMB 401: Biochemistry I. He teaches other courses, but he is the leader and primary instructor for BCMB 401 and has transformed it into a remarkable experience for the students. He has created an online version of the course, for summer instruction, and has added some innovative online features for all versions of the course (analogy-based animations). He has shared his work with other biology educators and has involved undergraduates in some of the course development. Regarding impact, one of his students wrote: “I would recommend this professor to other students but would caution them heavily because you learn an enormous amount that will likely stay with you, especially in terms of how the professor applies topics learned in class to real world work place scenarios – Fantastic!!”
Megan Bryson, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, received a Junior Faculty Teaching Award. Junior faculty have many responsibilities, especially in a smaller department, so Bryson’s contributions to the teaching mission in and out of the classroom are remarkable. She teaches a wide variety of courses, from broad surveys to more advanced courses in Buddhism, her specialty area. Scanning her student’s comments, there are two major themes: incredible knowledge of the subject matter and extreme care for her students demonstrated both by creating a safe classroom environment that aids class discussions and attention to the struggles of individual students. She has been involved in developing and updating courses, and developing a new program in the department. She also serves the university community through her work on the General Education Committee.
Sarah Lebeis, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, received a Junior Faculty Teaching Award. Prior to coming to UT, Lebeis had an NIH-SPIRE postdoc, which included training in teaching, including using engaged learning. She has utilized this experience in a wide range of courses by bringing in real-life examples for students to investigate using in-class ideas. Students appreciate the knowledge she brings to the class and the way that she uses the real-life material to make the course more interactive. She continues the engagement through mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in her lab. Finally, she contributes beyond UT by creating an annual workshop for K-12 teachers.
Jeneva Clark, senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics, received a Lecturer Excellence in Teaching Award. She has all the marks of a great educator: excellent student evaluation scores, great comments from her students, contributions to her department through her development and supervision of Math 113, and activity in math education research, including and publishing and speaking engagements, and involvement in several grants. In her teaching statement, she has a line that both explains what she does, but also raises it to a higher level. She talks about humanizing mathematics and in particular tries “to give math a face, and I believe it be one of resilience, not elitism.”
Beth Cooper, distinguished lecturer in the Department of Psychology, received a Lecturer Excellence in Teaching Award. Cooper contributes both inside and outside of the classroom. In the classroom, she is a “Rock Star,” according to her students. She teaches courses at all levels, including the more than 200-plus-enrollment introductory psychology course. She has utilized grants from the Teaching and Learning Center to emphasize engaged learning in her classes. For the department she has led course redesigns, mentored other lecturers, and has been a go-to person for GTAs who want to improve their teaching.
Maria Gallmeier, distinguished lecturer in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, received a Lecturer Excellence in Teaching Award. She has excellent student evaluations across the large variety of courses she teaches in German and linguistics. Gallmeier has earned high evaluations by her department and won their teaching award this year. Student comments describe the high quality of her courses and the long-term impact on the students. Several students mention how they went from taking the course because it was required, but then found a passion for German through her course to continue their students. Gallmeier mentions the joy she finds in working with students through their undergraduate language courses, and in some cases into their graduate program. She also contributes to the Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics.
Beth Schussler, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, received the James R. and Nell W. Cunningham Teaching Award, the college’s highest teaching honor. There are no specific requirements listed for the award, but there are some things that are typical of the winners. One, excellence in the classroom. Schussler is highly praised by students and peers for her work in some of the more demanding biology courses. Two, contributions to excellence in others. Schussler supervised the lecturers and GTAs in the general biology courses, and helped train the GTAs, which came from all three of the departments in the Division of Biology. Finally, contributions to teaching beyond their courses and department. Schussler has organized workshops on teaching for STEM departments, and continues to be involved with nation-wide efforts and grants helping to improve biology and STEM instruction.
Dean Lee presented the Academic Outreach Awards, which recognize the extraordinary contributions faculty make to the public in relation to their academic pursuits and the university’s academic mission. Three faculty receive awards in three areas of academic outreach: teaching, service, and research and creative activity.
Charlie Kwit, professor and joint faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries in the Herbert College of Agriculture, received the Academic Outreach Award for Teaching. His work to promote natural history knowledge in the Southeast exemplifies academic outreach in teaching. This year, he received a grant to increase HBCU representation to the Southeastern Chapter of the Ecological Society of America and support students engaged in the work of the Society. He also organized a session at the annual ESA meeting that spotlighted the biodiversity of the Southeast and the challenges we face in maintaining that rich biological heritage. Kwit also fosters UT students in outreach through clubs and courses. Students in his class experience the very best of what is intended as part of the new Experience Learning efforts. They see the utility of what they are learning, enriching their engagement with the material, while also helping to build relationships between UT and the community that strengthen the institution.
Patrick Grzanka, professor of psychology and chair of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program, received the Academic Outreach Award for Service. His work across the state to advance LGBT equality and reproductive justice is extraordinary. Grzanka expertly leverages his vast interdisciplinary knowledge by demonstrating scholarship’s capacity to contribute to health, well-being, and social justice far beyond the boundaries of campus. In spring 2016, Grzanka led a team of researchers to document the consequences of Tennessee’s mental health “conscience clause” – the first law of its kind to enable counselors and therapists specifically in private practice to deny services to any client based on the therapist’s “sincerely held principles.” He began what is now a long-standing collaboration with the state’s leading LGBT advocacy organization to develop a multi-part study to investigate the law’s effects on the LGBT population. The top psychology journals published his work, but Grzanka also travelled around the country giving public lectures on the topic and had op-eds placed in high-profile venues. His research also laid the foundation for policy briefs. Grzanka is a citizen psychologist whose work reflects a commitment to socially relevant psychology.
Annette Engel, professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, received the Academic Outreach Award for Research and Creative Activity. Engel studies a very interesting, complicated, and highly visible set of problems associated with studying water chemistry and life below ground, which play a critical role in our understanding of life on Earth. Engel is considered one of the stars in this field of research and is driven by a genuine, deep enthusiasm for scientific curiosity. Her work has been repeatedly showcased across multiple media channels – from print to video. As the awareness and importance of life below ground continues to grow, Engel has become the go-to person for explaining cave systems and their importance. Using her platform as a leader in this field, Engel has become a mentor and role model to inspire young people to learn about and protect these amazing ecosystems.
Jon Shefner, professor and head of the Department of Sociology, received the Outstanding Service Award. Anyone who has met Shefner knows he is passionate about and committed to advocacy, social justice, and leadership. He is a Fulbright Scholar whose long and remarkable research record in social justice, social movements, globalization, political economy, and green economic development has made him an internationally recognized and trusted scholar in these areas of sociological inquiry.
Since joining the UT faculty in 1999, Shefner has been promoted through the ranks, served as a member of every departmental committee and as a member of the Faculty Senate. He is the founding director of the Global Studies Interdisciplinary Program and helped the Department of Sociology form a new research and teaching area in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. Shefner has nurtured the Knoxville region’s green economy through the UT Green Economy Initiative, a combined service and research endeavor that seeks to increase the number of local green jobs as a way to heighten both the quality of life of working people and reverse the deterioration of the environment. He is also one of the most involved faculty members in the United Campus Workers union and helped coordinate a successful two-year campaign against outsourcing facilities workers’ jobs. Shefner’s record is part of a service and social movement career that began in 1983. He always fights for equitable policies at the college and university level and, as many of us have witnessed, is sometimes the lone voice in the room who reminds us of the stakes at the heart of our decision-making.
Andy Kramer, associate dean for academic personnel, presented Carolyn Hodges with the Lorayne W. Lester Award. Established by the college’s Board of Visitors, and its faculty, staff, and friends to honor Lorayne Lester, who served as associate dean and then dean of the college from 1991 to 2002, this annual award recognizes a faculty member or an exempt staff member who has demonstrated outstanding service through research, outreach, administration, teaching, or advising to our college, the local community, the state and beyond.
Since arriving at UT in 1982, Carolyn Hodges, professor of German, has time and again proven her commitment and dedication to UT. In 1999, she was named head of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures and continued to climb in leadership positions at UT that include associate dean for academic personnel in the college and vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. In 2016, Hodges became chair of the Africana Studies Program. Under her leadership, the program now has more than 100 majors and minors, and the graduate certificate program is attracting talented PhD candidates. Hodges received the African American Hall of Fame Award during the 2019 Chancellor’s Honors Banquet, which is awarded every five years to an African American who had made important contributions to the university in distinguished service, leadership, and social advocacy. Hodges’s own academic interests are in Afro-German literature and legacy, and under her guidance, the Africana Studies program has expanded its perception of Africa and its diaspora by becoming more globally inclusive. Since beginning her career at UT in 1982, Hodges has broken barriers not only for African-American women, but all women.
Dean Lee presented the final award of the evening – the College Marshal Award, which is the college equivalent of the university macebearer and is, therefore, the highest college honor awarded to a member of the faculty. The recipient of this award is selected annually by the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and honors a senior faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding service to the college and the university. The College Marshal represents the college at the spring and fall commencement ceremonies in the following calendar year.
Christopher Craig, professor in the Department of Classics, received the College Marshal Award for 2019. Craig joined the classics department in 1980 as an assistant professor and took the reins as head in 2011. In addition to his leadership role in the department, Craig was the director of the College Scholars Program from 2004-2011. He was the first recipient of the college’s Cunningham Outstanding Teacher Award and, during his time at UT, has received several honors, including the UT Citation for Excellence in Advising, the college awards for Academic Outreach, Outstanding Service, and the LR Hesler Award for Teaching and Service. He has taught Latin language and literature at all undergraduate and graduate levels, courses on classical civilization and classical mythology, and courses on Roman archaeology, art, and architecture. He also helps coordinate Latin Day, the largest and most important recruitment event hosted by the department that draws hundreds of high school students to campus for one day of Latin fun. For 40 years, Craig has served the university and the college with honor and humor.