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Alumni Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award

The purpose of this award is to recognize alumni who have achieved a high degree of success in their chosen field of scholarly or creative activity. The trademark of this recipient is a record of notable accomplishments and a history of outstanding contributions to their discipline and/or creative pursuits.

The award is presented to acknowledge their success which brings honor to the College of Arts and Sciences and promotes the value of a liberal arts education.

Winners

2018

Scholarly Achievement Award

Wanda Rushing earned her PhD in sociology in 1998. She is Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Memphis and the author of Memphis and the Paradox of Space: Globalization in the American South. Rushing’s scholarship focuses on the political economy of development, racial and social inequality, education and economic development in the South, and urban change. Her work continues to question popular assumptions about the South. In recent research on feminism and intersectionality, Rushing encourages scholars and activists to broaden their concept of intersectionality to include place, region, and locale as well as gender, race, and sexuality in an effort to explain the existence and persistence of social inequality better. She is the former president of Sociologists for Women Society and continues to publish her work in prestigious venues, presents at academic conferences, and remains a force in the discipline despite her recent retirement. In 2014, Rushing established the Dr. Wanda Rushing Sociological Research Excellence Endowment in Sociology to recognize outstanding faculty and graduate students for research efforts.

Creative Achievement Award

Alan Gratz is a 1993 graduate of the College Scholars Program with an emphasis in creative writing and a highly successful full-time writer of young adult fiction. Since 2006, he has published 14 novels, short stories, plays, and television scripts. Gratz has created a body of work that inspires young people to read. Some of his books, such as Samurai Shortstop, are just fun and will lure the sports crazy boy to put down his glove and pick up a book. Others, such as Something Rotten, are a path into great literature, in this case Shakespeare. Recent books, Refugee and Ban This Book introduce important social issues. Gratz has received several prestigious awards for his work. His more recent novel, Refugee, was on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than three months and won numerous awards, including the Sidney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers and the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children.

2017

Scholarly Achievement Award

Carroll Van West (’78) received his BA from Middle Tennessee State University, MA in history from UT, and PhD from the College of William and Mary. He is a professor in the Department of History at MTSU. Carroll currently serves as Tennessee’s State Historian. He is the co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and director of The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. He played a central role in founding and developing the MTSU program in public history, the most important and visible such program in Tennessee, and one with a national reputation for academic excellence. He has all the accomplishments of a significant scholar in his field, including books, articles, and presentations that reflect a long and distinguished academic career. In 2013, Governor Bill Haslam appointed Carroll as State Historian.

Creative Achievement Award

Paula Pell (’86) is an outstanding and noteworthy alumna of the Department of Theatre. After graduating from UT, Paula worked for Disney as a writer and performer. In 1995, she started writing for Saturday Night Live and was nominated for an Emmy as writer of the “Saturday Night Live at 40” special. Paula is credited with some of SNL’s most enduring sketches, including “Debbie Downer” and for the performers Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, and Will Farrell. Paula’s most enduring success post-SNL came with the 2015 film, Sisters. As a performer, Paula can be seen as Tammy Zero in Parks and Recreation, and as herself in the web series Hudson Valley Ballers. Paula has received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Writing – Variety, Music or Comedy Series. Paula was recognized with the Clarence Brown Theatre Artistic Achievement Award in 2016.

2016

Scholarly Achievement Award

John McManus (’96) earned a doctorate in U.S. history at UT. During his tenure as a graduate student, he served as the Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society He is an internationally recognized authority on U.S. military history. His a prolific an award-winning scholar whose research focuses on the human element of the history of conflict. He is invited regularly as an expert commentator on PBS, MSNBC and other national news outlets.

Creative Achievement Award

Paige Braddock (’85) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a major in graphic design. During her time at UT she was the comics’ editor for the Daily Beacon. Following graduation she held profession positions with newspapers including the Oak Ridger, the Chicago Tribune, and the Atlanta Constitution. In 2000, she joined Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, where she is Executive Vice-President and Creative Director. Paige oversees the editorial and art direction of the “Peanuts” license world-wide, and she designed the Snoopy U.S. postage stamp issued in 2001. In addition to being the steward of the Peanuts brand, Paige is the creator of the long-running comic strip, “Jane’s World”, the first nationally syndicated gay-themed comic strip. At Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, she started her own publishing company in 2001 and produces graphic and text novels for adults and children.

2015

Scholarly Achievement Award

Gerald Musante (’71), who received a doctorate in psychology, has dedicated his career to the treatment of obesity. Since founding Structure House, a residential weight loss center in 1977 in Durham, North Carolina, Musante and his staff have helped more than 30,000 people overcome weight issues.

Creative Achievement Award

David Keith (’85), a graduate of speech and theatre, is a filmmaker and actor who has appeared in movies including An Officer and a Gentleman, The Lords of Discipline, Firestarter, and White of the Eye, and TV shows including NCIS, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, CSI: Miami, High Incident, Hawaii Five-0, and Lone Star.

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