College of Liberal Arts faculty and staff earn top recognition

Faculty and staff members in the College of Liberal Arts earn a number of University, College and community awards along with fellowships and endowments

Trees bloom during spring on the University of Nevada, Reno campus

College of Liberal Arts faculty and staff earn top recognition

Faculty and staff members in the College of Liberal Arts earn a number of University, College and community awards along with fellowships and endowments

Trees bloom during spring on the University of Nevada, Reno campus

This academic year is wrapping up to be quite successful for the College of Liberal Arts with many of its faculty winning major, notable awards. All areas of emphasis from the humanities, social sciences and the arts have exceptional faculty members achieving the highest standards. University of Nevada, Reno awards, College-level awards, community-recognized awards, national endowments, fellowships and the like, are graciously recognizing extraordinary faculty for the research, teaching and creative work they participate in every day.

"I am thrilled that a significant number of our faculty members have had such success in earning major awards, fellowships and honors this year," College of Liberal Arts Dean Debra Moddelmog said. "At the same time, I am not all that surprised given the high quality of research, teaching and service that our faculty are known for. I am very pleased and proud that they have reached the point in their careers where such high-level recognition is being bestowed upon them."

University Awards

The College is humbled that three of its faculty members won University awards this year. Geoffrey Smith, associate professor of anthropology, is this year's recipient of the F. Donald Tibbitts Distinguished Teacher Award. This award selects two University academic faculty members each year who display outstanding teaching.

"I've served on the Tibbitts selection committee several times since coming to this University," Smith said. "I've seen firsthand what amazing teachers our faculty are. To be even considered among them, let alone win the award, is one of the highlights of my academic career."

Monica Miller, professor of criminal justice, was named a Foundation Professor this year. Miller was awarded with an annual stipend for three years to be used to pursue professional endeavors.

In addition, Sarah Blithe, associate professor of communication studies, was awarded the Thornton Peace Prize for her exemplary efforts through word or deed to show that the use of force is not an acceptable means for settling disputes.

College Awards

The College of Liberal Arts recognizes the accomplishments and achievements of its faculty each year. The list below includes the 2019 winners:

  • Christopher Coake, associate professor of English: Alan Bible Excellence in Teaching Runner Up
  • Pamela Sandstrom, lecturer in biology: Alan Bible Excellence in Teaching
  • Cameron Strang, assistant profesor of history: Mousel/Feltner Award for Excellence in Research and/or Creative Activity
  • Marin Pilloud, assistant profesor of anthropology: Dean's Award for Outstanding Research and Artistry
  • Kjerstin Gruys, assistant professor of sociology: Dean's Award for Outstanding Teaching, Continuing Faculty
  • Darren Griswold, lecturer of World Languages and Literatures: Dean's Award for Outstanding Teaching, Contingent Faculty
  • Amy Pason, associate professor of communication studies: Dean's Award for Service
  • Daniel Enrique Pérez, director of core humanities: Dean's Award for Extraordinary Service
  • Genevieve DeBernardis, lecturer of psychology: Undergraduate Advising Award
  • Vicki Bell, administrative assistant in Music: Classified Staff of the Year
  • Roberto Lara, administrative assistant in English: Early Career Outstanding Employee of the Year

Community Awards

Debra Harry, lecturer in Gender, Race, and Identity, received the Pesa Namanedu Award from the Nevada Department of Education in recognition of her many contributions to create Indigenous-centered learning opportunities for Native American students. One of these opportunities includes the innovative Pesa Nadayadu Poenabe Madabwe (making good strong leaders) Emerging Indigenous Leaders Institute she organized. In her acceptance speech, Harry encouraged Native American students, "to use their indigeneity as their foundation for living and learning." She also encouraged them "to become expert in something, to achieve those terminal degrees, and to use their indisputable truths to make our world a better place."

Professor and Chair of Communication Studies, Jimmie Manning, had an award named after him this year: the "Jimmie Manning Award for Top Paper" submitted to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Caucus of the Central States Communication Association. In addition, he was also the recipient of the John T. Warren Mentorship Award from the Central States Communication Association. The Warren Award was named after one of the most well-rounded professors in the discipline.

"I'm humbled by my colleagues' confidence in the work I have done to this point in my career," Manning said.

Assistant Professor of voice, Olga Perez Flora, was selected as a national finalist in the "Friedrich & Virginia Schoor Memorial Award - Art song, women's profession" division of The American Prize, a national nonprofit competition in the performing arts. Founded in 2009, the American Prize provides cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best-recorded performances.

"The American Song Prize is one of our country's most prestigious awards for classical singers," Perez Flora said. "I appreciate this award greatly because of the esteemed panel of judges who select the finalists and am also humbled to be among a select and talented group of women singers in the category of Women in Art Song and Oratorio. This award honors me and our community by nationally recognizing the fine singing and performing that is going on in Reno and our greater Northern Nevada community."

Associate Professor of Art History, Brett Van Hoesen, received this year's Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award by the Nevada Humanities. Van Hoesen said in her award acceptance letter, "It is a great honor to receive this award. I love to inspire students and strive to help them fulfill career aspirations that fuel their passion for the humanities."

Fellowships and major funding awards

Xiaoyu Pu, associate professor of political science, was named one of the 20 Public Intellectuals Program Fellows by The National Committee of United States-China Relations. This program is sponsored by the Carnegie Cooperation of New York and identifies and encourages a new generation of leading China experts to actively participate in public and policy discussions.

"The Public Intellectuals Program fellowship has become one of the most competitive and prestigious programs for Chinese scholars across the United States," Pu said. "Through various workshops in Washington D.C., San Francisco and fieldtrips in China, fellows gain access to senior policymakers, media outlets and top exerts in both countries. As one of the 20 new fellows, I will join an accomplished community of 100 PIP fellows who have formed a strong network of mutual support and academic collaboration."

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