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University of Mobile Announces Top Faculty and Staff Awards and Promotions

Zac DouglasNews

MOBILE, Ala. – The University of Mobile’s highest faculty and staff honors, the Megginson Awards and Faculty Engagement Award, were announced May 4. The university also announced promotions and noted years of service during the awards event at the annual faculty and staff spring luncheon on campus.

Following the announcement of the prestigious awards, UM President Lonnie Burnett and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ted Mashburn emceed the lighthearted “Rammy Awards,” where employees voted for peers to receive awards ranging from the Top Chef Award for bringing food for colleagues to the Megaphone Award for the person most likely to forget they are not muted in Zoom meetings.

The Megginson Awards recognize outstanding contributions to the university in the areas of teaching, research and service. Recipients are chosen by committees of peers from among nominations sent by students, faculty and staff. The recipients are honored for their character, ethics, accomplishments, and contributions to the university.

The Faculty Engagement Award honors a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in student engagement inside and outside the standard classroom setting and intentionally fostering community among students. Recipients of this award are nominated by faculty and selected by a committee of peers.

The 2021 William A. Megginson Teaching Award was presented to Dr. Salomon Itza, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Dr. Itza has passion for education, dedication to students, and a caring nature. He demonstrates an uplifting spirit that continues to motivate students to find the silver lining in each situation. He doesn’t just educate students to understand a particular procedure, but explains the purpose for doing each task. He not only cares about his students understanding the material, but he also cares about them as the people God has made them to be,” his nomination reads.

The 2021 Mitford Ray Megginson Research Award was presented to Dr. Matthew Downs, associate professor of history and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Downs’ research was conducted both digitally and at the Alabama state archives. The topic is the Reform Movement that sought to enact alcohol prohibition in early 20th century Alabama, and the methods by which the state and federal government attempted to enforce Prohibition.  The resulting research paper was accepted for presentation at the Alabama Historical Association.  It has also been included as an entry in the online Encyclopedia of Alabama.

The 2021 Emma Frances Megginson Service Award was presented to Brenda Hinson, coordinator of international recruitment. “She is a regular at sporting events for students, hosts holiday dinners in her home and is a comforting voice in the face of anxieties. She goes above and beyond to help our international students navigate the oftentimes complex process of becoming a student in the United States. We are thankful for her the example her enthusiasm and hard work set for all of us,” her nomination read.

The 2021 Faculty Engagement Award was presented to Dr. Karen Dennis, associate professor of education in the School of Education, and co-director of the Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning. The award is presented to a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in student engagement inside and outside the classroom. “She intentionally fosters community among students and promotes the relevance of her discipline in their lives. She embodies the University of Mobile’s Core Values of being Christ-centered and Student-devoted,” her nomination reads.

Faculty promotions were announced. Faculty promoted to full professor receive a university medallion that is worn at graduation and official university ceremonies. Promoted to full professor was Dr. Katherine Abernathy, professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences.

Additional faculty promotions include Dr. Charlotte Hester, associate professor of music, Alabama School of the Arts; Dr. Christopher Lovely, associate professor of music, Alabama School of the Arts; Dr. Aimee Var, associate professor of psychology, College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Robert Olsen, associate professor of Christian studies, Center for Christian Calling; Dr. Jay Robertson, associate professor of Christian studies, Center for Christian Calling; Dr. Ashley Milner, associate professor of education, School of Education; Andrew Goodwin, assistant professor of music, Alabama School of the Arts; Karon Bishop, assistant professor of education, School of Education.

Faculty gaining tenure include Dr. Julie Biskner, associate professor of political science, College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Randy Craig, professor of biology, College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Salomon Itza, professor of physics, College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva, professor of music, Alabama School of the Arts; Dr. Michael Robinson, associate professor of history, College of Arts and Sciences.

Service awards were presented to faculty and staff for years of service. Employees are honored at five-year marks.

35-Year Service Award: Carol Camp.

30-Year Service Award: Mattie Easter, Rebecca Rocker (MMI).

25-Year Service Award: Nick Cillo, Kimberly Howell, Juanita Porter (National Plant Services).

20-Year Service Award: Curtis O’Cain (National), Lucy Pettway (MMI), Donna Ramer, Dr. Melissa Thomas, Dr. Doug Wilson, Dr. Sarah Barnes-Witherspoon.

15-Year Service Award: Dr. Debra Chancey, Joyce Sigler (MMI), Charity Wittner, Bernidette Yates (MMI).

10-Year Service Award: Marie Lourdes Baumer, Barbara Brousseau, Shannon Mason, Kimberly Setser, Daniel Whelan.

5-Year Service Award: Shelby Bristow, Dr. Glenn Holllingsworth, Dr. Salomon Itza, Dr. Ashley Milner, Janice Richardson (National), Morgan Snellgrove, Erika Stuckman, Shaneka Thomas (signall88 Security), Latollen Todd (MMI), Kami Whiteis.

About the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.

For more information about the University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.edu or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.