The following faculty and staff members in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences were winners of a 2018 University Faculty/Staff Award. Additional details regarding these award winners can be found via the links on this page.
Carlene Arthur, a retired operations coordinator for the Center for Gerontology, received the Staff Career Achievement Award for her role in helping to shape the Center for Gerontology and the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment; she was honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in 2015 for her outstanding contributions and consistently excellent performance to these units. Arthur coordinated the 18-month renovation of the Wallace Annex, which became the new home to the center and the institute. She planned and managed the center’s annual awards and recognition celebration and helped coordinate several research projects in ISCE. Arthur retired from Virginia Tech in 2017 after 22 years of service.
Trudy Harrington Becker, a senior instructor in the Department of History, received the Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising. During her 25-year career at Virginia Tech she has advised undergraduate students in History and Classical Studies formally and informally. From 2011 to 2016 she served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of History and for the last seven years she has been the leader of the department’s first-year experience course. The recipient of many university teaching and international awards, Becker also has fulfilled the roles of study abroad advisor, career advisor, point person for summer internships, advisor of the History Club, and co-advisor of the Classics Club.
Toni Calasanti, a professor in the Department of Sociology, was recognized with the Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research. A leading expert in the sociology of aging, she is considered a founding scholar in the area of study now known as feminist gerontology and her scholarship has provided a framework for understanding the experiences of women and men in old age. Her work is well known globally: she serves on the International Board of the International Institute on Ageing, United Nations; has presented papers at the Asia and Oceania regional meetings of the International Congress on Gerontology; and last year was guest professor at the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Tampere in Finland.
María del Carmen Caña Jiménez, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, was the recipient of the Presidential Principles of Community Award, established this year by President Tim Sands to recognize those who exemplify and promote a welcome and inclusive environment at Virginia Tech. She is a former chair of the Hispanic and Latino Faculty and Staff Caucus and currently serves on the College’s Diversity Committee as well as the university’s Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity. She received a College Diversity Grant to recruit underrepresented and underserved students to the university and has co-hosted visits to campus by groups of Hispanic students from various parts of the state.
Brandy Faulkner, a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, received the Diggs Teaching Scholar Award. She teaches a range of classes, from the required undergraduate Research Methods course to Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender; problem-solving projects and teamwork are pivotal to the interdependent learning environment she fosters in each course. Faulkner organized the first Teach-in on the African American Experience, which focused on the racialized impact of public policy decisions. She strives to promote an appreciation of diversity, inclusiveness, and collaboration on campus and in her engagement efforts with the New River Valley community.
Saul Halfon, an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, was recognized with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising. He is the department leader in the number of students advised, student retention, completion rates, and job placement of graduates. He has been especially supportive of international graduate students and has provided assistance with regard to the cultural and language issues they face. His mentoring of students often continues long after their graduation from Virginia Tech. Halfon serves as the department’s Director of Graduate Studies and on the Graduate School Dean’s Graduate Culture Task Force, and he has chaired both the College and University Graduate Curriculum Committees.
Paul Heilker, an associate professor in the Department of English, was recognized with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has taught a range of courses, from first-year composition to doctoral-level courses in rhetorical theory. He developed an online version of ENGL 3764: Technical Writing, which has become a popular course during summer and winter sessions. He has served as a mentor to students working on major writing projects and as Capstone Project director for 31 master’s students in English. He served as co-director of the doctoral program in Rhetoric and Writing from 2006 to 2011 and as Director from 2011 to 2013. Since 2016 he has directed the Presidential Global Scholars Program in the Honors College, of which he was a founding faculty member.
Rebecca Hester, an assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, and Emily Satterwhite, an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, received the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award for their efforts in empowering students to confront contemporary health challenges in the United States and internationally and approach them as issues for civic engagement. A New Program Development Grant from the Global Education Office in 2015 allowed them to travel to the Dominican Republic to explore study abroad options. With support from a Curriculum Globalization Grant, Satterwhite and Hester developed Societal Health in Local and Global Contexts, in which students examine cultural and social influences on health in the United States and Latin America.
Billie Lepczyk, a professor in the School of Performing Arts, was the recipient of the Alumni Award for Excellence in Research. Her research focuses on the movement styles of classical ballet and of artists such as George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and Twyla Tharp; her primary method is Laban movement analysis, through which she identifies qualities in movement configuration. During her tenure at Virginia Tech, she has been the highest ranked individual abstract author on the Research Consortium Program; as a result, Virginia Tech is the highest ranked institution. She serves as co-editor of five volumes of the book series Dance: Current Selected Research, and she has presented her research worldwide.
Nancy Metz, a professor in the Department of English, garnered the William E. Wine Award for Teaching Excellence. She was recognized for her engagement with students, challenging their views and encouraging them to reevaluate and seek new answers. In her 40 years of teaching, she has fostered the role of writing, collaboration, and individualized research projects in undergraduate curriculum; numerous students she has mentored have presented their work at regional conferences, including the ACC Meeting of the Minds, or published their papers in Philologia, the College’s undergraduate research journal. She serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of the Office of Undergraduate Research, which she co-chaired in 2016.
Ashley Reed, an assistant professor in the Department of English, received the XCaliber Award, which recognizes integration of technology in teaching and learning, for her development of the course ENGL 4784: Scrapbooks and Nineteenth-Century American Poetry as well as the associated project, the Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook. The course includes a study of the poetry’s circulation in the United States in manuscript and print form. Students transcribe and analyze poems, contributing their work to an online edition of the scrapbook, created originally by Lucas, a resident of Jefferson County, Virginia, before the Civil War. Having honed their digital project design and communications skills, students present their research at a public symposium at the end of the term.