The university-wide Faculty Excellence winners will be revealed during a 5:30 p.m. ceremony on April 20 in the auditorium in the Engineering and Information Technology Building.
More information about the winners:
Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service
Jennifer Hune is an associate professor of education and the special education graduate coordinator in the School of Education at UA Little Rock. Hune’s service is dedicated to the enhancement of children and human life and to support the development of people.
There are numerous examples of Hune’s service to the university. One particular example is Hune’s service with the student organization of Phi Kappa Phi, which received national recognition for her work. Established in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is a student honor society that honors and encourages superior academic scholarship, regardless of area of study, and promotes the “unity and democracy of education.”
Hune has served two terms as president of the Phi Kappa Phi. The UA Little Rock chapter of Phi Kappa Phi received the Chapter of Excellence Silver Award in 2021 and the Chapter of Excellence Gold Award in 2022. Hune is also the current chair of the Faculty Appeals Committee and is a founding member of the Racial Barriers Committee.
Hune’s service also extends outside of the university. In the Little Rock area, she has chaired the Head Start Health Advisory Committee and the Head Start Governing Board, two different Head Start advisory bodies at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. These federally funded head start programs address health and educational needs of children in low-income households. Hune has also served the state of Arkansas as an education advisor, such as her work as chair of the Governing Board of Arkansas Correctional School at Wrightsville.
Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching
Dr. Laura Barrio-Vilar is an associate professor of English in the School of Literary and Performing Arts at UA Little Rock. Barrio-Vilar has been praised for her commitment to inclusive learning in the classroom, work mentoring other teachers, and engaged pedagogy.
Barrio-Vilar has many examples of creating inclusive learning environments within the classroom. She has served on the Blackboard Ally team. Blackboard Ally is a tool that helps institutions understand their course shell’s accessibility. Barrio-Vilar’s work has helped make online courses more ADA accessible for students. She also received a Jumpstart Teaching Award from the Office of the Provost at UA Little Rock for equity and inclusiveness in the classroom. Barrio-Vilar has also developed pedagogy to incorporate several social issues into her classes.
Barrio-Vilar developed classes that incorporate issues such as gender, race, LGBTQ+, and migration. Colleagues in her department have noted because of her work, the department has rethought their curriculum to include these issues. Barrio-Vilar’s work also extends beyond her own department.
For three and a half years, Barrio-Vilar served as a co-director for the UA Little Rock Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence (ATLE). The goal of ATLE is to foster excellence in teaching and learning through sharing ideas, collaborating, and building a strong community of engaged teachers and learners. With her time at ATLE, Barrio-Vilar did extensive teaching, mentoring, and professional development leading sessions on gender, race, disability, and LGBTQ+ issues in the classroom to faculty across the university.
Faculty Excellence Award for Research and Creative Endeavors
Rebecca Glazier is a professor in the School of Public Affairs. She is known for her research on religion and politics, as well as pedagogical research in higher education.
Glazier is noted and praised for the Little Rock Congregations Study (LRCS) she founded 11 years ago. The LRCS is a longitudinal study of religion with goals of improving the understanding of the impacts of faith-based community engagement, getting students out of the classroom and into the community to learn and give back, and providing relevant and meaningful findings to the community. She has received over $30,000 in grants from community groups related to this study, and two of her peer-reviewed articles have been co-authored with students she mentored through the study.
Glazier is also highly committed to the scholarship of teaching and to learning how to improve teaching from students. She has published seven peer-reviewed articles and three book chapters on building rapport in the classroom, along with the book “Connecting in the Online Classroom: Building Rapport between Teachers and Students” with Johns Hopkins University Press (2021). This has made her very influential in the pedagogical circles in higher education. Over the last five years, Glazier has published 20 peer-reviewed articles, three book chapters, and one-solo authored book with several additional pieces of work on the way.
Faculty Excellence Award for Rising Faculty
Bailey Oliver Blackburn is an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Communication at UA Little Rock. Blackburn has made exceptional strides in teaching, research and creative endeavors, and public service since joining UA Little Rock.
Blackburn has been praised by both students and her colleagues alike. She has shown herself to be thoughtful and reflective, constantly thinking of new ways to innovate her courses and make them more student-centered. This is supported by her strong course evaluations and student comments. Over the past three years, she has also taught in the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program at UA Little Rock.
Blackburn’s research focuses on conflict management, community listening, and remarriage and stepfamily communication in the United States. Over the past five years, she has had 11 publications, with five in some of the most rigorous journals in her field, including the Journal of Applied Communication Research. She also has an additional four publications in press for 2023.
Blackburn has served the university, her discipline, and the local community in several ways. She has been a member of several university committees, such as the Donaghey Scholars Policy Council and Undergraduate Council. Blackburn is also a regular reviewer for the Journal of Family Communication, Family Relations and the Western Communications Journal. She has also facilitated several workshops locally with the UA Little Rock Leadership Academy and the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium.
Faculty Excellence Award for Social Justice
Dr. John Kirk is the George W. Donaghey distinguished professor of history in the Department of History at UA Little Rock. He is an internationally recognized scholar of the civil rights movement and he has worked continually over the years to help the public and students understand the struggle for social justice.
Kirk has taught several courses related to racial justice including the classes Introduction to Race and Ethnicity and Civil Rights Movement since 1954. He also played a key role in establishing the minor in race and ethnicity at UA Little Rock. Students have praised his courses as transformative, and he has aided students with their own publications on social justice.
Outside the classroom, Kirk is a noted civil rights scholar and advocate for social justice. His scholarship is extensive and includes “The Civil Rights Movement: A Documentary Reader,” a consultancy for a Netflix series on schools and race, a CNN podcast on the 1959 fire at the Arkansas Negro Boys Industrial School, and an AETN documentary on Little Rock’s West 9th Street.
Kirk has produced more than 400 “Arkansas Moments” radio segments, published his work in newspapers and magazines, conducted numerous media interviews, generated racial attitudes reports, and organized several community conferences. On top of this extensive work, he developed the award-winning Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail, which was adopted as part of the national US Civil Rights Trail in 2018.