The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has chosen Drs. Robert Lytle, Rebecca Glazier, Stephen Grace, Mark Baillie, and John Kirk as the winners of the 2023 Faculty Excellence Awards.
Lytle, associate professor of criminal justice and criminology, won the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, sponsored by the Bailey Family. Glazier, professor in the School of Public Affairs, has won the Faculty Excellence Award in Research and Creative Endeavors, sponsored by Dr. Jaafer Golzar and family, while Grace, associate professor of biology, received the Faculty Excellence Award in Public Service.
With the addition of two new awards this year, UA Little Rock also honored Dr. Mark Baillie, assistant professor of chemistry, as the inaugural recipient of the Rising Faculty Excellence Award, sponsored by the Bowen Family, as well as Dr. John Kirk, George W. Donaghey distinguished professor of history, as the recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award in Social Justice, sponsored by Just Communities of Arkansas.
“Our winners’ dedication to scholarship, teaching, research, public service, and social justice has made a profound impact on our institution and the broader academic community,” Provost Ann Bain said. “They have demonstrated a commitment to excellence that inspires us all and sets a high standard for future generations of educators. On behalf of the university, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of the award recipients and thank you for embodying the spirit of excellence that defines our institution.”
UA Little Rock annually celebrates the achievements of the top professors of the year who are making a difference in the community through their contributions in teaching, research and creative works, public service, and social justice. This is the highest honor UA Little Rock awards its faculty members. Each winning faculty winner will receive a $5,000 prize.
Created in 1989, the Faculty Excellence Awards has provided a way to recognize the great work of UA Little Rock faculty for the past 34 years and is made possible through the valued contributions of the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of the Provost, the UA Little Rock Chancellor’s Circle, and the Bailey Foundation.
The UA Little Rock Board of Visitors selected the university-wide winners from the 19 faculty members who were selected as the top faculty members for the 2022-23 academic year in each of the five categories in their respective colleges and the William H. Bowen School of Law.
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. 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 Public Service
Dr. Stephen Grace is an associate professor of biology at UA Little Rock. Grace is a plant physiologist specializing in plant biochemistry and is a founding director of the UA Little Rock Campus Garden.
The UA Little Rock Campus Garden was founded in 2013 with the intent to bring together students, staff, faculty, and community members who share an interest in sustainability and gardening. The primary mission of the garden is to create a viable urban farm that provides fresh local food to organizations and individuals and to create an educational facility on urban land use, food studies, and sustainable agriculture for students, faculty, staff, and community members.
As director, Grace oversees service, teaching, and outreach activities, coordinates food delivery to food banks and other organizations, and serves as faculty advisor for the Campus Garden Alliance. The success of the garden has also created several partnerships with internal and external organizations, such as the Trojan Food Pantry, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light, University District, Full Circle FarmsCorps, as well as several local businesses, such as the Root Cafe, River Valley Horticultural Products, and Arkansas Grown.
Over the past six years, the garden has received grants and funding worth more than $60,000. External funding and grants have been provided by the Pulaski County Conservation District, L’Oreal, UA Little Rock Alumni Association, and the AHRA Emergency Relief grant. Grace’s work with the garden exemplifies the university’s role within the broader community.
Faculty Excellence Award for Rising Faculty
Dr. Mark Baillie is an assistant professor of chemistry in the School of Physical Sciences at UA Little Rock. Baillie has been praised for teaching, service, and research and scholarship.
Baillie has focused much of his career on the science of teaching. There are numerous examples of his efforts, but one example is the drastic reduction of DFW rates, the percentage of students in a course or program who receive a D or F grade or who withdraw, in his general chemistry class. His class has less than half the DFW rate observed in traditional classes, but students perform at the same level on the nationally normed standardized exams in the class. This shows there has not been a reduction in class standards.
Baillie brought expertise from the National Institute on Scientific Teaching and with this expertise has provided Mobile Institutes on Scientific Teaching (MoSI) workshops to UA Little Rock faculty and graduate students. Over the past four years, he has trained 87 faculty members and 18 graduate students. The focus of these workshops is fostering a more engaging learning environment for students through the use of evidence-based practices and active learning. Baillie also co-founded the university’s first Learning Assistant (LA) program in the Chemistry department with the School of Physical Sciences. This program uses students to serve as peer mentors and active learning collaborators. It has also been replicated in other units across campus.
Baillie’s primary scholarship has been on teaching and learning. He led an interdisciplinary team that was awarded a prestigious $2 million NSF grant to promote active learning in STEM classrooms at the university.
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.