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Cameron University faculty members selected for awards

Cameron University faculty members Dr. Krystal Brue, Dr. Matt Jenkins, Dr. Dana Lee, Dr. E. Ann Nalley, Dr. Rajesh Nayak and adjunct faculty member Megan Culbert have been honored with awards recognizing their contributions to Cameron’s academic community.

Dr. Dana Lee, associate professor in the Department of Agriculture, Biology and Health Sciences, is the recipient of the 2022-23 Harold and Elizabeth Hackler Award for Teaching Excellence, Cameron’s highest faculty honor. The Hackler Lectureship in Teaching Excellence was established in 1996 by Cameron alumni Harold and Elizabeth Hackler to recognize outstanding contributions by faculty in the lives of Cameron students.

Lee was referred to as “one of the most impactful teachers I have interacted with during my college career” by one nominator, who cited Lee’s outstanding communication with students and her ability to make learning fun. He also wrote, “Dr. Lee has played a large part in my academic success.”

When describing her teaching philosophy, Lee notes that many aspects align with the university’s mission.

“In all classes, I strive to have excellence in teaching by providing quality educational opportunities and

combining innovative classroom teaching with experiential learning,” she wrote. “I believe quality education comes after students are shown the course content but then see how that content applies to real-world situations. After this exposure they are more likely to take interest in the topic and remember the information. I also believe it is important to teach students skills they will need after graduation. I include assignments that will require students to obtain reliable sources and use these in presentations to improve their communication skills, which prepares students for professional success and life-long learning.”

Dr. E. Ann Nalley, professor in the Department of Chemistry, Physics & Engineering, was selected to receive the Bhattacharya Research Excellence Award. The nominator wrote, “In her career, she has directed more than 200 undergraduates in research.” Nalley successfully applies for both internal and external research grants to purchase research supplies and support her students as research interns. A recent example is her successful application for INBRE grants, which allowed CU students to conduct research over a 10-week summer research program. Other successful grant proposals support student presentations at state, regional and national meetings.

Faculty Excellence Awards were presented to three members of the faculty in recognition of their contributions to Cameron’s academic community.

The Faculty Award for Excellence in Service recognizes a faculty member who has applied his/her professional expertise beyond the classroom to advance the university and its constituents. Dr. Krystal Brue, associate professor of business, is the 2022-2023 recipient. The nomination documented Brue’s history of service to Cameron University, to the community, and to state, national and international organizations. Brue is heavily involved in HR-related initiatives throughout the region. She has sponsored student research, has provided pro bono HR assistance to numerous business and civic entities, and has served in leadership positions for state and regional HR organizations.

The Faculty Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching recognizes a full-time faculty member who performs superbly in the classroom. Dr. Matt Jenkins, professor in the Department of Communication, English and Foreign Languages, is the recipient. One nominator said of Jenkins that he “never fails to go above and beyond,” explaining that Jenkins asked students in his Mass Media class what they would be interested in learning about mass media that related to their majors and the career fields they wanted to pursue so he could tailor specific lesson plans to feature topics of interest.

“That kept us engaged, eager to learn, and taught me more about the specific field I would like to go into,” the nominator wrote, mentioning that Jenkins created original, interactive learning module videos that were fun and informational. Jenkins says he believes incorporating proper technology when it is appropriate for course content changes a passive learning activity into an interactive one with personal impact. He also continually asks, “How do I continue to motivate students, keep them not only coming to class but also enrolling for subsequent semesters and have them experience achievement in learning?”

Dr. Rajesh Nayak, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, Physics and Engineering, is the recipient of the Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring Student Research. The award recognizes a faculty member who has an excellent, sustained record of mentoring student research and scholarship.

Since joining the CU faculty in 2018, Nayak has mentored student research projects. One nominator wrote, “Thanks to him, I have learned so much about the projects that multiple graduate schools have invited me to come and tour after hearing me present at ACS meetings … he has always pushed me to be the best student I am capable of being.” The nominator also said, “I love the work we do in the lab, and I am very thankful to have him pushing me to achieve my goals.” Another nominator said, “He always challenges his students to think outside the box and always strives for more.”

Megan Culbert is the honoree for the Adjunct Faculty Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching, which recognizes an adjunct faculty member who performs superbly in the classroom. An adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology, she works to foster an environment that encourages discussion through the process of active learning. “The foundation of my teaching revolves around genuine care and acceptance of students,” she says. The nominator said of Culbert, “She makes sure her lectures are related and even pulls a lot of stories from her personal life to relate with the class … I love her classroom environment. I enjoy her class and hope to have her in the future.”



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