Faculty members receive top awards during commencement ceremony

May 22, 2010 | General News

Three Louisiana Tech faculty members received major campus awards during spring quarter commencement exercises Saturday, May 22.
The recipients are:
• University Foundation Professorship Award – Dr. James Nelson, associate dean for undergraduate studies and Robert Howsen Professor of Civil Engineering;
• Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award – Dr. Mark Murphey, associate professor of agriculture sciences
• Tech Foundation F. Jay Taylor Undergraduate Teaching Award – Dr. Dorothy Dodge Robbins, an assistant professor of English.
The University Foundation Professorship Award is given to a faculty member who has excelled in teaching, research and service to the campus community. The award comes with a $2,000 stipend and a plaque.
Dr. James Nelson is the director of the Integrated STEM Education Research Center and associate director of the CEnIT. He has taught 17 different courses in civil engineering, construction engineering, engineering mechanics and engineering. He was the lead developer of the university’s inaugural National Science Foundation-funded integrated engineering curriculum and has obtained more than $4.6 million in competitive funding for research projects.
Nelson has been the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award for 1986-1987, 1997-1998 and 2007-2008. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in agriculture engineering from Louisiana Tech in 1975 and 1977, respectively, and received his doctorate in agriculture engineering from Colorado State University in 1980. In 1980, he joined Tech’s staff as assistant professor.
Dr. Jenna Carpenter, associate dean of administration and strategic initiatives and professor of mathematics, wrote in her recommendation letter that Nelson “serves as an outstanding role model for students and faculty alike. Nelson’s outstanding record speaks for itself. He has demonstrated extraordinary performance and service in teaching, research and service to the college and university for the past 30 years. Moreover, he continues to distinguish himself at the national level in each of these areas.”
Other nominees included Dr. Gary Kennedy, department head of agriculture sciences; Dr. Tommy Phillips, director of the School of Accountancy; Dr. Carrice Cummins, an associate professor of education; Dr. Sheryl Shoemaker, head of the department of speech; and Kevin Stevens, an assistant professor of architecture.
Dr. Mark Murphey received the honor of Outstanding Faculty Adviser. Murphey has been at Louisiana Tech since 1997 and has assumed primary responsibility for recruitment in the department of agriculture. He is also the faculty adviser for two student organizations: the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club and the Block and Bridle Club. He also supervises a group of students known as the Ag Ambassadors.
This award recognizes a faculty member who has contributed substantially to excellence in undergraduate academic advising, and the award comes with a plaque and a $2,000 stipend.
One of Murphey’s advisees, Brittany Walraven, wrote in her nomination letter, “His influence, advice and encouragement has become a vital part of my journey through college. He wants to see all of us exceed and achieve our aspired goals. His encouragement and hard work should not go unrecognized.”
Another student, junior animal science major Sara Deen, wrote about Murphey’s involvement with student organizations, “He is always trying to get students to be more involved and has been a great adviser to both clubs. In Pre-Vet, he helps organize fundraisers and takes personal time to take club members on trips to see places such as vet schools. In Block and Bridle, Dr. Murphey is key to many of the organization’s operations in planning. New officers are often lost about what planning and things need to be done for club functions, but Dr. Murphey takes extra time to help students accomplish these tasks.”
Other nominees included Dr. Selwyn Ellis, associate professor of business, Rhonda Boyd, instructor of kinesiology; Dr. David Hall, associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Dr. Rick Simmons, associate professor of English.
Dr. Dorothy Robbins was chosen as the F.J. Taylor Undergraduate Teaching Award recipient. The award consists of a plaque and a $1,500 stipend, and the recipient must be a full-time faculty member whose primary duty is undergraduate teaching. Faculty members are nominated by members of the University Senate.
Robbins has integrated her research on Virginia Woolf into her teaching and frequently writes for Salem Press publications. In the summer, she is an English composition AP reader for the College Board to help score student essays.
Robbins also is the faculty adviser for Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, and she also serves on the National Scholarship Committee for the society. She and Sigma Tau Delta have worked to create a garden area in the George T. Madison Hall courtyard and have developed the Shakespeare Garden, which has involved several years of work by her, undergraduates and graduate students. The Shakespeare Birthday Festival is held annually in the garden.
In addition, Robbins excels in scholarship and is editing one of her manuscripts and has begun work on another one. She has served as co-editors for journals, written several journal articles and reviews, and assists students in their writings for conference papers.
Other nominees for this award were Dr. Mark Barker, a mechanical engineering lecturer; Marie Bukowski, an associate professor of art; Dr. Tammy Harpel, an associate professor of human ecology; and Dr. Rebecca Smith, an associate professor of education.