The UA Little Rock College of Business, Health, and Human Services has honored Lindsey Baertlein, Moiz Bhai, Amar Kanekar, Robert Lytle, and Rhet Smith as its top professors of 2023.
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
Dr. Amar Kanekar is a professor of health education and promotion in the School of Counseling, Human Performance, and Rehabilitation. Kanekar has provided numerous contributions to UA Little Rock and beyond.
In the School of Counseling, Human Performance, and Rehabilitation, Kanekar has served as graduate coordinator the M.S. in health education and promotion and as interim undergraduate coordinator for the B.S. in health education and promotion and the B.S. in K-12 health, human performance, and physical education.
He has also served on several school committees such as the assessment committees, the recruitment and retention committee, and as chair of the faculty promotion committee. At the university level, he has served on the Committee on Race and Ethnicity, Faculty Appeals Council, the Online Campus Advisory Board, and the Committee on Tenure.
Kanekar also serves outside the university community. He is a scientific reviewer for several journals including the Journal of Health Education Teaching, Health Education & Behavior, and Health Promotion and Practice. Kanekar has also served as a board member for the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, and as an Ethics Committee member for the Society for Public Health Education.
Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching
Dr. Robert “Bob” Lytle is an associate professor of criminal justice and criminology, as well as the graduate coordinator for the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Lytle has been praised by students and colleagues for his dedication to students and his passion in the classroom.
There are several examples of Lytle’s excellence in teaching. One of those in particular can be found in his instruction of doctoral level statistics courses in the criminal justice and criminology Ph.D. program. Students often find these courses to be daunting and difficult, but students and colleagues alike have praised Lytle for his ability to teach these courses and teach them well.
One student in particular said Lytle transformed a terrifying advanced statistics course into one that was manageable and even enjoyable. Fellow colleagues and students also highlight the labeled binders he creates for each of his statistics students. These binders include everything from the syllabus and extra credit assignments to 125 pages of content written by Lytle concerning material used in the statistics classes and even a statistics refresher. The binder can be used in both upper-level criminal justice and criminology statistics courses, and the binders are built in such a way that they can be reorganized and added to as the student sees fit.
Lytle has also served in several different roles in his seven years at UA Little Rock. He is also the graduate coordinator for his school and has also served as the school assessment coordinator for over five years. Lytle has chaired thesis committees for five students and served as reader on six additional thesis projects while at UA Little Rock. He is currently serving as chair on six dissertation committees and as a reader on 14 additional dissertations.
Since 2016, Lytle has published 14 peer reviewed articles, with four of these articles being written in conjunction with students. This shows his dedication in teaching, but also mentoring students in their own research. To culminate, Lytle is currently the co-principal investigator on four external grants and contracts totaling over $1 million. This provides undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to actively engage in research projects that would not be available without Lytle’s dedication to teaching and student success through classroom instruction and research outside the classroom.
Faculty Excellence Award for Research and Creative Endeavors
Dr. Moiz Bhai is an associate professor of economics in the Department of Accounting, Economics, and Finance at UA Little Rock. His recent research focuses on the intersections of health and labor economics and the economic and policy implications of practicing occupational licensing reform.
Bhai states his professional and personal goal is to evaluate policies that can improve the lives of Americans and reduce disparities. He notes a major challenge to improving poor health of Americans is exacerbated by their inability to find a medical provider. Bhai has published seven peer-reviewed papers in journals such as Economics Letters and Economic Inquiry and he has multiple manuscripts under review. He has also published an op-ed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a policy brief in Pennsylvania with the Commonwealth Fund.
In addition to this, Bhai has won eight grants totaling more than $120,000 in external funding. These include research grants from the Council of State Boards of Nursing’s Center for Regulatory Excellence, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. With these research funds, he has hosted seminars on campus, invited economists to visit UA Little Rock and give talks ranging from immigration to the economics of health care, and hired student research assistants, which aids in student’s personal research interest and their education experience.
Faculty Excellence Award for Rising Faculty
Dr. Rhet Smith is an assistant professor of economics in the Department of Accounting, Economics, and Finance at UA Little Rock. Smith is noted for his research on applying microeconomic concepts in crime, labor, and health economics. His research is particularly focused on substance abuse and the impacts of cannabis dispensaries in communities.
In 2019, he collaboratively collected dispensary location and opening date data for the entire United States, which did not exist at the time, in order to examine the strategic response in direct-to-physician marketing by pharmaceutical firms as cannabis dispensaries entered each particular market. The focus of his research is to examine the impacts of cannabis dispensaries on everything from insurance and public safety to applications in healthcare with the ultimate goal of informing public policy.
Students have also praised Smith for his teaching style and dedication in the classroom. He is often noted for enthusiasm and excitement in the classroom. One student praised Smith as a mentor, highlighting Smith for aiding the student in acquiring multiple grants for his topic, which led to the student presenting at an academic conference. He has also served as one of the faculty who sponsor the Finance and Economics Association student organization. In this role, Smith has helped connect students with internship and research opportunities.
Faculty Excellence Award for Social Justice
Lindsey Baertlein is an assistant professor of nursing in the School of Nursing at UA Little Rock. Baertlein advocates for equality in the care of women and mental health clients from underserved and or disadvantaged communities.
Baertlein has advocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion outside and inside the classroom. She served as the liaison between the Diversity Council and the Racial Barriers Committee at UA Little Rock. This allowed her to increase collaboration with both committees on developments and policies. With the Racial Barriers Committee, Baertlein created a form that serves as the current screening tool for reports of racial issues in the UA Little Rock community. Baertlein also received a sustainability grant for $4000 to reduce plastic waste and associated costs on campus.
Baertlein has included her diversity, equity, and inclusion work in the classroom. In the Integration of Nursing Concepts course, she has incorporated diversity, equity, and inclusion into classroom projects for students. This work led to a virtual poster presentation at the 2022 Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) Nursing Education Accreditation conference. She also collaboratively published, “Nursing Education: The intersection of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Healthcare Informatics,” in the 2022 ACEN Bridges newsletter. Baertlein is a co-presenter at the NEC in the Rockies 2023 Conference on gender inequalities in higher education and transcultural nursing.