College awards recognize faculty and staff achievements
April 29, 2021
This spring, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences honored a number of its faculty and staff members with awards for excellence.
Three faculty members received the Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Award: Cara Daggett, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science; Su Fang Ng, a professor in the Department of English; and Annie Stevens, an assistant professor of percussion in the School of Performing Arts.
According to her nominator, Daggett’s research ranges from a historical and political analysis of the “birth of energy” to using feminist political theory to develop and apply the concept of “petro-masculinity.”
Ng’s nomination noted that she is “rewriting literary histories of European interactions with Asia, transforming our understanding of the interconnected world. She is also diversifying early modern studies to include questions of race and global engagement.”
Stevens, a renowned percussionist and member of the Escape Ten duo, performs regularly on regional, national, and international levels. Her nomination noted that, as a result of her being a performer, teacher, and a recording artist, she has gained recognition for herself, as well as the School of Performing Arts. Her research focuses on performing and recording, and commissioning new works allows her to push the boundaries of the art form.
Amy Azano, an associate professor in the School of Education, was awarded the Land Grant Scholar Award. Azano, who is one of the most grant-active researchers in the School of Education, according to her nominator, has been with Virginia Tech since 2012. Her grant focus is on education in underserved rural communities. A first-generation college graduate, she grew up in Appalachia, a background, she has said, that fed her passion for rural communities.
The Excellence in Advising Award was awarded to David Brunsma, a professor in the Department of Sociology, and Sonja Schmid, an associate professor in the Department of Society, Technology, and Society.
Brunsma has mentored nearly 90 graduate students and 14 undergraduate student projects. He currently serves on 17 graduate committees, 14 at the doctoral level and three at the master’s level; he is also the chair of six and co-chair of two. The nomination noted that as a result of mentoring graduate and undergraduate students, Brunsma seeks to create spaces where he can encourage the success of junior colleagues.
Schmid’s nomination noted that she is “a model advisor in terms of her devotion to student success, and her students are all on track to complete their degrees.” It is also noted that she has “distinguished herself as an exemplary graduate advisor in terms of the large number of students she has advised, the quality of professional training she has provided, and the quality of the doctoral dissertations under her guidance.”
Andrea Baldwin, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, received a Diversity Award, and two faculty members from the Department of English — Katie Carmichael, an associate professor, and Erika Meitner, a professor — shared a Diversity Award as well.
Baldwin, who is affiliated with both the Africana Studies and the Women’s and Gender Studies programs, was nominated for her “profound influence in creating a healthy environment for underrepresented students and colleagues (Black people in particular), in enhancing our campus community’s understanding of and appreciation for issues surrounding inclusion, diversity, and inequality, and in facilitating institutional change.”
Carmichael and Meitner are being recognized for their advocacy for caregivers through the Department of English, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Faculty Senate, the Office of Faculty Affairs, the Women’s Center, and other divisions on campus, as well as through the American Association of University Professors.
The Excellence in Outreach and International Initiatives Award recipients are Biko Agozino, a professor in the Department of Sociology; Douglas Lind, a professor and head of the Department of Philosophy; and Bonnie Zare, a professor in the Department of Sociology.
Agozino’s nomination noted that he has “assembled an extensive and original body of research across several disciplines, developing in the process influential paradigms on decolonizing criminologies and Africana criminologies.”
According to his nominator, Lind has “built an enviable program of leadership and collaboration abroad, leading educational and professional training programs for judges, lawyers, and legal professionals that have had a significant and impressive impact.”
Since joining the Department of Sociology in 2018, Zare has created an India and Social Justice study abroad program. She has also been highly involved in outreach, creating a bridge between Virginia Tech students and the girls of the Aarti Village.
The Staff Employee of the Year Award went to two recipients this year: Dee Hopkins, student advisor and recruiter in the School of Performing Arts, and Jeanette McLingberg, fiscal senior support technician in the Office of Academic Programs in the School of Education.
Hopkins joined the School of Performing Arts more than six years ago. In her current position, she deals with recruiting, orienting, and advising theatre, cinema, and music majors. She is highly engaged in both on-campus and off-campus recruiting events for the School of Performing Arts.
For more than 30 years, McLingberg has served in a range of roles in what is now the School of Education. In her current position, she provides technical and administrative support to faculty and other staff members, while managing multiple reports.
Honorable mentions for the Staff Employee of the Year Award went to Kim Hedge, executive secretary in the Department of Political Science; Wendy Hodge, fiscal and operations coordinator in the School of Communication; Meghan Jester, assistant director for undergraduate academic affairs in the Office of the Dean; Leslie King, manager of marketing and communications in the Office of the Dean; Samantha Schaller, undergraduate program specialist in the Department of Sociology; and Bridget Szerszynski, administrative assistant in the Department of English.
Finally, six faculty members received Certificate of Teaching Excellence Awards: Danille Christensen, an assistant professor in the Department of Religion and Culture; Katharine Cleland, an assistant professor in the Department of English; Benjamin Katz, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science; Trevor Stewart, an associate professor in the School of Education; Jessica Taylor, an assistant professor in the Department of History; and Hyesoo Yoo, an assistant professor in the School of Performing Arts.
Carmen Giménez Smith, a professor in the Department of English, served as chair of the Honors and Awards Committee.
Committee members included Julia Beamish, a professor in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management; Colonel Eric Dorminey, a professor of aerospace studies and head of Virginia Tech’s Air Force ROTC; Wallace Easter, an associate professor of horn in the School of Performing Arts; Carmen Gitre, an associate professor in the Department of History; Sylvester Johnson, a professor in the Department of Religion and Culture and director of the Center for Humanities; Carol Mullen, a professor in the School of Education; Philip Olsen, an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society; and Paula Marie Seniors, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology.
Written by Randa Freeborn