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Appalachian State University Foundation awards grants to enhance faculty teaching and research

BOONE—A total of $50,000 from the Appalachian State University Foundation has been awarded to 16 professors and instructors at Appalachian State University through a newly created program designed to support professional development in teaching, scholarship or creative activity.

A total of 47 faculty submitted proposals for a Foundation Fellows Program award.

“It’s not just the monetary award that’s important,” said Kate Brinko of the awards that ranged from $650 to almost $5,000. “It’s an affirmation of what they are doing professionally.”

Brinko is director of faculty and academic development in the university’s Hubbard Center. She helped coordinate the award criteria and selection process.

Awards were made in four categories: non-tenure track, pre-tenure track, tenure mid career, and tenure late career. The committee based its awards on proposals that would further a teacher’s career, help faculty secure additional outside funding, and proposals related team projects and mentoring junior faculty.

Non-tenure track individuals teach part time at the university. Pre-tenure track defines faculty who have taught at the university less than seven years. Mid-career and late-career faculty are those who have taught at Appalachian for seven to 15 years, and more than 16 years, respectively.

“Faculty development as understood at most universities usually only addresses teaching,” said Peter Petschauer, director of the Hubbard Center. “The criteria for these awards included all three areas of faculty engagement: teaching, research and service.”

Support of part-time instructors isn’t often provided by universities, Petschauer said. “Most schools do very little in the full range of faculty development for this group,” he said. The Hubbard Center offers a variety of support to Appalachian’s part-time instructors and non-tenure track faculty, including workshops on topics such as use of online teaching tools and teaching students with disabilities, and individual consultations to enhance classroom instruction.

Supporting and strengthening Appalachian’s talented faculty – from part-time instructors to tenured faculty — was the impetus behind creating the program, said Jerry Hutchens, interim vice chancellor for development. “Members of the foundation board want to do everything possible to make our faculty as strong as possible.”

“To have the fundraising arm of the university directly involved in the faculty development process is truly exciting,” Petschauer said. “To award $50,000 for faculty development on any campus is a great accomplishment, especially during times of budget constraints.”

One of the largest awards was given to Matt Robinson, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice. He received $4,579 to lay the groundwork for establishing a center for social justice and human rights on campus. A member of the department since 1997, Robinson is considered a mid-career faculty.

Robinson will be teaching a course on the American social system and social justice within the department’s new master’s degree program in criminal justice. The funding also will enable Robinson and graduate students in the class to attend two conferences on social justice and present research on the topic.

Jill Ehnenn, a pre-tenure track faculty member, will use her $4,000 award to expand her expertise in the area of 19th -century visual studies. The growing field combines literary criticism, cultural studiesand art history. The award will enable Ehnenn to attend a conference on visual culture this summer in England, and while there conduct research on writers and artists of the period who were involved in the aesthetic movement.

She will visit libraries and museums in London and Oxford and be able to study documents, artifacts and museum pieces that aren’t always on display for the general public. Ehnenn will use the trip and museum visits to create an image library that she will use in her senior- and graduate-level British literature courses.

“I’m interested in people in 19th-century Britain who worked in a variety of media,” Ehnenn said. “There were poets who also were painters, writers who were art critics. This was the time of serialized illustrated novels and the Great Exhibition, increased advertising, the first photographs and the stereoscope. All aspects of Victorian culture reflected new relationships to the visual, including a fascination with spectatorship and surveillance. As a result, writers of the period developed literary styles such as realism, aestheticism and symbolism, in order to document and critique the world around them.”

Other Appalachian State University Foundation Fellows Award recipients are:

April Eichmiller, non-tenure track, English, $4,500 to travel to Bolivia and China to conduct research and interviews as part of an ongoing “sister library” project

Charles Smith, non-tenure track, interdisciplinary studies, $4,100 to develop curriculum for a land conservation and preservation concentration within the sustainable development degree

Jari Eloranta, pre-tenure track, history, $4,100 to conduct research and attend an international business history conference and develop course materials for a business history course

Kin-Yan Szeto, pre-tenure track, theatre and dance, $3,540 to travel to China to trace the history of martial arts and integration into literature, theatre, film and other media

Gordon Hensley, pre-tenure track, theatre and dance, $655 to support videotaping of a play written and directed by Hensley and funds to attend a national conference in theatre

Elizabeth Cramer, pre-tenure track, Belk Library, $1,500 to attend a three-week Spanish language institute and develop workshops and presentations that support improved library services to the Spanish-speaking population

Shea Tuberty, pre-tenure track, biology, $4,000 to attend a National Science Foundation workshop on new approaches and techniques for teaching science and for travel to Costa Rica for research

Robert Falvo, mid-career tenured, music, $3,700 to assist with Alexander Technique certification

Johnny Waters, late-career tenured, geology, $4,600 to study and photograph blastoid collections at museums in New York, England and Europe and update reference materials related to the extinct marine invertebrates

Doug Jones, late-career tenured, mathematical sciences, with Robert Wenta, pre-tenure, mathematical sciences, $3,098 to obtain certification as regional instructors from the Teachers Teaching with Technology professional association

Ed Midgett, late-career tenured, art, $2,662 to purchase equipment needed to continue his work in fine art digital photography

Connie Green, late-career tenured, language, reading and exceptionalities, also with Sandra Oldendorf, curriculum and instruction (pre-tenure), $4,966.18 to conduct research and produce materials regarding strategies for teaching children and adolescents about religion as part of a culture