University honors College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences faculty members
June 30, 2020
Virginia Tech has recognized faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences with 2020 awards for excellence in research, teaching, and outreach.
Two faculty members earned Alumni Awards for Excellence. Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, these awards honor faculty and staff who exhibit excellence and dedication in their respective fields.
The Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence in Individual Achievement was presented to Paul Quigley, the James I. Robertson Jr. Associate Professor in Civil War Studies, for his work with the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. As director of the center, Quigley has implemented or conducted a variety of programs — including the Civil War Weekend, the Civil War Driving Tour of Southwest Virginia, screening of the Civil War Film Series, and genealogy workshops — to engage with community members and share the history of the Civil War. The center, which Quigley says practices “Civil War History, Land-Grant Style,” has expanded exponentially under his leadership. In 2019, his work was recognized with the Excellence in Outreach and International Initiatives Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
The 2020 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching went to María del Carmen Caña Jiménez. In her eight years at Virginia Tech, Caña Jiménez has established herself as an extraordinary professor teaching Spanish and Latin culture to undergraduate and graduate students. She has taught more than 22 different courses and serves as a pedagogical expert in training graduate teaching assistants in Spanish and French. Caña Jiménez was recognized with the Diversity Award of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences in 2016 and the Presidential Principles of Community Award in 2018.
Two of the university’s three Diggs Teaching Scholars in 2020 are faculty members in the college. Sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Diggs Teaching Scholars Awards are presented annually to Virginia Tech faculty members to recognize exceptional contributions to the teaching program and learning environment.
One of the Diggs Teaching Scholars is Takumi Sato, a clinical assistant professor who works with the science education program in the School of Education. A member of the university community since 2013, Sato is also affiliated with the Africana Studies Program in the Department of Sociology. In his role with the School of Education, he teaches self-designed courses focused on social justice for undergraduate and graduate students. His teaching and research aim to break down racial barriers to science learning and career trajectories for students of color. Students cite his courses as some of their favorites at Virginia Tech, and for many, as turning points in their pedagogy.
The other Diggs Teaching Scholar in the college is Matthew Wisnioski, an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society and a member of the university community since 2007. An interdisciplinary historian, he has been recognized as an innovative mentor and teacher. He has mentored doctoral candidates, invented new undergraduate and graduate courses, and taught hundreds of students. His success as an educator led him to co-chair the Preparing Students group of the Beyond Boundaries initiative, and he is currently working on helping those involved in interdisciplinary programs to integrate questions of values, desired outcomes, and objective realities into their teaching.
The Presidential Principles of Community Award recognizes faculty and staff members who exemplify and promote a welcoming and inclusive environment in accordance with the university’s Principles of Community.
The 2020 Presidential Principles of Community Award for Individual Contribution — Recent Award went to Mae Hey, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology. She completed a two-year InclusiveVT postdoctoral fellowship under the Office of Inclusion and Diversity with the American Indian and Indigenous Alliance. In that position, she nurtured relationships with tribal communities in Virginia to aid in experiential learning and applied research programs at Virginia Tech. She also created bonds with the Pamunkey Tribe, and she works on a number of grants for major community viability projects with the Pamunkey’s extension educator. Her dissertation, “Situating Indigenous Worldview within Western Academic Traditions,” details her experience as an Indigenous woman in the STEM educational system.
The 2020 Principles of Community Award for Individual Contribution — Long-Term Award went to Carlos Evia, a professor in the Department of Communication. Evia serves as a member and chair on the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity. He also played an important role in the preliminary stages of the creation of a Latino American studies minor, as well as serving as the co-organizer of the VT Latinx Symposium in 2019. Evia works to overcome microaggressions and macroaggressions while also tirelessly advocating for Latinx and other underrepresented students. Evia’s unwavering support has positively affected many students and their families.
The Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects — sponsored by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research and the Virginia Tech Academy for Teaching Excellence — is presented annually to a Virginia Tech faculty nominated and selected by undergraduates. The 2020 Sporn Award went to Buddy Howell, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Communication. Students have recognized Howell’s talents for serving as a mentor, advisor, and counselor and for making larger lecture classrooms feel smaller. Howell also created the Undergraduate Ambassador Teaching Assistant Program and the Hokie Undergraduate Group Leaders Program for students to expand their collaborative and leadership abilities.
The William E. Wine Award was presented to Jessica Folkart, a professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, for extraordinary skill and effort in teaching and mentoring. Folkart takes a new approach to teaching. She understands that her career is teaching Spanish, yet she uses the language as a vehicle for helping students learn to think critically about language, life, and themselves. Her award nomination noted that this mindset has served Folkart and her students well, and her SPOT evaluation scores are “off the charts.” She has created four new Spanish courses, revamped the outdated curriculum of five courses, refocused six Spanish courses on issues of diversity, and led multiple study abroad programs.
Finally, the XCaliber Award for Excellence in Technology Assisted Teaching and Learning is presented annually by Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies to recognize faculty members who take innovative, student-centered approaches to integrating technology in teaching and learning. Among the two winners of the 2020 XCaliber Award was Carol Mullen, a professor of educational leadership in the School of Education. She teaches master’s and doctoral courses exploring innovative uses of technology to improve student learning among cohorts of physically distributed graduate students. Her pedagogical research on mentoring, international education, and other topics in the social sciences is from a social justice lens. She has twice been named recipient of the J. William Fulbright Senior Scholar for research, and her exceptional record of scholarship has attracted two dozen award recognitions from educational agencies, professional associations, and universities.
“These talented individuals exemplify our college’s fierce commitment to exceptional teaching, mentoring, and outreach,” said Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “They offer the types of educational experiences that leave an unforgettable impact on people’s lives. We congratulate these exceptional colleagues.”
For a complete listing of the university awards, visit the 2020 Faculty/Staff Award Recipients page.