UALR to recognize faculty excellence at 26th annual awards ceremony

Each year, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock sets aside an evening during the spring semester to celebrate the contributions and achievements of its faculty.

For the past 26 years, the event has provided a way to recognize the great work of UALR faculty in the areas of teaching, research, and public service.

This year’s Faculty Excellence awards ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10, in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall at UALR.Faculty Excellence Awards at UALR

A reception will follow in the lobby and gallery of the Fine Arts Building. The free and public event is made possible through the valued contributions of The Bailey Foundation, PepsiAmericas and the UALR Chancellor’s Circle.

Winners are selected by a panel of national judges who review the achievements of the college-level winners. University award winners will be announced at the ceremony.

The following are the college-level winners nominated for UALR Faculty Excellence awards in each category.


Dr. Brian Berry, College of Science, primarily teaches organic chemistry, viewed by many students as one of the most difficult areas of chemistry. Despite this, Dr. Berry has received glowing evaluations each year from his students. His expertise is in the self-assembly of polymeric materials. As further evidence of his accomplishments as an educator, he was awarded the American Chemical Society’s Central Arkansas Section Professor of the Year award in 2010.

Lindsey Gustafson, William H. Bowen School of Law, teaches a writing course in which her students learn the art of rewriting. Gustafson insists her students talk about their writing, and she helps diagnose their strengths and weaknesses. Professor Gustafson celebrates their assets, but, more importantly, she addresses their defects, whether by designing an engaging group project or by guiding students with customized guidance in order to become better writers.

Dr. Floyd Martin, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, has devoted himself to excellence in teaching throughout his 31 years of service to UALR. His class assignments include museum research projects, critical writing assignments, and individual and oral presentations. Dr. Martin co-founded the Arkansas Art History Symposium, an annual event that offers students from across the state the opportunity to present their own research. Ellen M. Gray established the Dr. Floyd W. Martin Endowment and the Ellen M. Gray Endowed Professorship of Art History in his honor.

Dr. Jim Vander Putten, College of Education, has crystallized his teaching practice to focus on teaching leadership, developing student authors, discovering instructional innovation, and mentoring doctoral students. One example includes his collaboration with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to spearhead an innovative master’s degree program in higher education with a concentration in health professions teaching and learning. Of special significance is Dr. Vander Putten’s interdisciplinary focus in teaching that includes courses of value to graduate students outside his department.

Thomas Wallace III, George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology, consistently earns rave reviews from his students. He developed a very successful special topics course, Mobile Web Design, which could become a regular elective and possibly a required course in the future because of its relevance to user-interface design for applications that must span multiple device platforms. Wallace is the coordinator for the Information Technology Minor. He regularly volunteers for mentoring roles outside the classroom, such as guiding capstone project student teams and assisting with recruiting events.

Dr. Lillian Wichinsky, College of Professional Studies, has taught several core social work courses as well as an elective, Global Perspectives in Social Work, which she created. Her central framework for teaching is drawn from a learner-centered approach. Dr. Wichinsky takes the time to develop a relationship with each student and identifies strengths and areas of growth in order to help students reach their full potential. Perhaps most importantly, she is able to masterfully put students in charge of their own learning, which can be seen in student outcomes.


Dr. Amin Akhnoukh, George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology, has volunteered his time and lab materials for students from Central Little Rock Promise Neighborhood and more than 45 middle school students participating in the two-week ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. Over the past two years, he has mentored students for the High School Research Program (a three-week residential program), provided instruction during two one-week sessions of the National Summer Transportation Institute, and mentored undergraduate students in the two-and-a-half month Summer Undergraduate Program of Entrepreneurship and Research, among many other volunteer activities.

Dr. Glenn Anderson, College of Education, is well known throughout the field of deafness. His success, and the professional impact of his success, is greatly attributed to Dr. Anderson’s rich history in education, rehabilitation, deafness, and interpreting. He has often been at the forefront of scholarship and service in these fields. His career is anchored in service as well as teaching and research. Dr. Anderson’s state and national service is exemplary, as well. His service includes serving on state and national advisory boards and being chosen to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s documentary, “Celebrating Progress: ADA’s 20th Anniversary.”

Lynn Foster, William H. Bowen School of Law, has exemplified the law school’s core values of professionalism, public service, and access to justice. She has worked on a variety of projects to help her students and her community and to create laws and policies to benefit the underserved population in Arkansas without ever seeking commendations or attention for her contributions. Her primary efforts have included the creation of a service-learning course that provides opportunities for law students to work with residents in the University District and representing Arkansas on the national Uniform Law Commission. She also serves on the Arkansas Landlord-Tenant Law Study Commission and drafted the commission’s 2013 report.

Cindy Gilbert, College of Science, has spent a large percentage of her time coordinating an effort by the Little Rock School District elementary schools to curb childhood obesity. In 2012, five UALR Department of Nursing faculty and 20 students volunteered more than 160 hours to complete the measurements of 1,300 students from eight elementary schools. Last year six nursing faculty members contributed more than 100 hours, while 25 nursing students and two health science students contributed over 175 hours to the project. In his letter of support, Michael Drake, chief service officer for the City of Little Rock, acknowledged that Professor Gilbert’s effort helped the city win the second-place prize for the Nation’s Outstanding Childhood Obesity Prevention Program (Mid-Size Cities) awarded by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Association in 2013.

Dr. Kristin Dutcher Mann, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, whose grant procurement efforts total nearly $3 million, is dedicated to providing professional development and resources for teachers. Dr. Mann was recognized with the History Channel’s Outstanding Service in the Field of History award. She promoted and encouraged participation in projects such as the Life Interrupted Project, which recounts the experiences of Japanese Americans housed in internment camps in Arkansas during World War II. This is a project that continues to be a part of the Little Rock Schools’ social studies curriculum and, as such, is a testament to the quality of Dr. Mann’s work.

Dr. David Montague, College of Professional Studies, leads the course Inside Out, where students are paired with inmates in the Arkansas Department of Correction and can exchange experiences. His work on the Kennedy Commission garners requests for interviews and talks on the subject. He is director of the UALR Senior Justice Center, which provides services to the elderly and works to prevent elder abuse. He has also served on the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections Reentry Board, which works to provide a successful reintegration of prisoners into the community. Dr. Montague served as president of the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice and hosted the annual meeting in Little Rock. He was elected to the national Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences as a regional trustee.

Research and Creative Endeavors

Dr. Edward M. Anson, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, is hailed by scholars for his area of specialization, the era of Alexander the Great and his successors. He has authored or edited five books and has authored an exceptional number of publications during his time at UALR, including more than 30 articles in high profile journals, 10 book chapters, and more than 50 encyclopedia entries. Dr. Anson’s early career was marked by acclaim with the publication of his “Eumenes of Cardia: A Greek Among Macedonians,” published by E.J. Brill. In recent years, Dr. Anson published six peer-reviewed articles, six book chapters, and two books. In addition, Dr. Anson currently has one book and two book chapters in press.

Dr. Samuel Atcherson, College of Professional Studies, has produced an outstanding record of scholarship since starting at UALR. He currently has 21 published articles in peer-reviewed journals and an additional 30 published articles in non-refereed journals. He has four invited book chapters and has published a scholarly book on auditory electrophysiology, which is used in Doctor of Audiology programs across the country. Dr. Atcherson has made more than 80 professional presentations. His national reputation is evidenced by his 11 peer-reviewed invitations to present at national meetings and 25 invitations to speak at regional meetings. Dr. Atcherson has had three grants funded, including one by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and two from UAMS.

Dr. Anindya Ghosh, College of Science, has developed a national and international reputation for his research efforts in inorganic chemistry with particular emphasis on green chemistry. Six patents have been issued to him, and he has submitted an additional six patent applications, which are still under review. He has been very active in submitting research proposals to various federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense, as well as private industries. In total, he has secured more than $1 million in funding from different agencies for his research. His advances have been made in the area of catalysis and green chemistry using novel nickel, iron, and tin organometallic catalysts and making use of reactions that can capture and make use of carbon dioxide.

Dr. Nancy Landrum, College of Business, demonstrates her dedication to sustainability in her research. Her work can generally be grouped into three categories: research-oriented toward practitioners on base of the pyramid strategies, research-oriented toward practitioners on sustainable business practices, and pedagogical research related to integrating sustainability into business school curriculum. Her intellectual contributions from 2009-2013 include four peer-reviewed journal publications (three of which are in special issues devoted to sustainability), one proceedings publication, two books, two book chapters, and two non-refereed publications for practicing managers in the field.

Dr. Bronwyn MacFarlane, College of Education, focuses her research on the psychology of giftedness, educational practices, policies, leadership, and interdisciplinary education. Her research centers upon talent development and strategically measuring interventions to increase talent development among individual learners and groups. These interests can be further delineated in examination of the following areas: talent development processes, educational leadership, program implementation and evaluation, assessment, curriculum design and development, second language literacy, creativity, giftedness across the lifespan (early childhood, social and health psychology, and elders), and differentiated professional development. She is developing an edited book and several article manuscripts based upon these interests.

Josh Silverstein, William H. Bowen School of Law, has produced outstanding scholarship in bankruptcy law and grading theory, and his work in each field has received national recognition. His article published in a national journal provided a thorough primer on non-debtor releases and comprehensively addressed its legitimacy under the bankruptcy code. In addition, two influential books regarding legal education — “Educating Lawyers,” better known as the “Carnegie Report,” and “Best Practices for Legal Education,” published by the Clinical Legal Education Association — contain significant coverage of mandatory curves. Professor Silverstein’s article, “In Defense of Mandatory Curves,” is the first comprehensive assessment of the subject. The article sets forth an extensive list of these grade disparities and is the first piece to present such a list.

Dr. John Talburt, George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology, has a long history in both industry and academe of producing innovations and gaining new insights in the computing and information fields. In addition to his book, “Entity Resolution and Information Quality,” he and his co-authors produced three journal articles, nine conference papers, and two book chapters with a number of other publications either accepted or being prepared for submission. In addition to five previous grants with continued funding into 2013, Dr. Talburt was instrumental in securing five additional grants for UALR with two more awards pending. Talburt has been especially active in promoting applied research collaborations between UALR and industry and government, likely stemming from his industry experience at Acxiom Corp., where he worked in Global Data Research and Development.

Mary Lu Bilek is dean and professor of law at the University of Massachusetts School of Law. Dean Bilek presents regularly on issues related to diversity in legal education, the bar examination, and developing outcomes and assessments, and she serves on the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission.

Jennifer Gerarda Brown is dean and professor of law at the Quinnipiac University School of Law. She is co-author of “Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights.” Dean Brown serves on the Board of Directors for Freedom to Marry.

Dr. Waded Cruzado is the president of Montana State University. In 2012, President Obama appointed President Cruzado to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, a seven-member advisory council that advises USAID on agriculture, rural development and nutrition issues related to global food insecurity.

Dr. Domenico Grasso is the vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College at the University of Vermont, where he was previously dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. He has served on advisory boards at Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, and the National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Jerry Herron is Professor of English and founding Dean of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he has twice received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Herron is currently finishing a book about Detroit and Americans’ sense of the past: “Living With Detroit: An All-Purpose History of American Forgetting.”

Dr. Gary Miller is chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Dr. Miller has published more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific papers and one book. His research centered on the areas of population, community and behavioral ecology, with much of his work focused on reproductive biology and mating systems of wolf spiders.

Dr. Richard Starnes is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Carolina University. Dr. Starnes was previously chair of the Department of History, where he has been an associate professor since 2000. The college is the university’s largest, consisting of 11 academic departments, nearly 200 faculty, and 2,000 students.

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