Regents honor top faculty, student athletes
Regents honored top faculty members and student athletes when they met on April 12 at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. The board also reappointed faculty, professional and general staffs for the coming year and approved curriculum changes.
Receiving the Regents Award for Scholarly Performance was Dr. Stephen Weber, professor of music and coordinator of the music department. Weber teaches piano, music technology and courses in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. He earned a doctorate from Texas Tech University. He has published more than 80 different compositions and earned more than a dozen national awards.
The Regents Award for Teaching was presented to Dr. Zachary Simpson, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies, and to Dr. Chris Walker, associate professor of psychology and chair of the Division of Business and Social Sciences.
Dr. Zachary Simpson came to USAO in 2009 from Harvard University, where he completed a post-doctoral fellowship on evolution and theology. He has published articles in philosophy and theology and edited works including The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science and Adventures in the Spirit: New Essays in Philosophical Theology. He earned a doctorate at Claremont Graduate University.
Dr. Chris Walker is a specialist in the area of educational psychology. His other research areas include political psychology, especially attitudes toward voting, politics and civil liberties. He chairs the committee that coordinates both the Emerson-Wier and Giles symposia. He was named chair of his division in 2009. He earned his doctorate at the University of Oklahoma.
Two student athletes were presented with the Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Award, including Caleb Martin of Duncan and Taylor Smithwick of Oklahoma City.
Smithwick competed on USAO’s women’s soccer team for the past four years. Her 3.92 grade point average helped the team gain national recognition for academics. Along with her involvement in many campus activities including serving as a resident assistant at Sparks Hall, Smithwick also has served USAO by working in the Drover athletic training room and coordinating programs for her peers.
Caleb Martin is finishing up his fourth season as a pitcher on the Drover Baseball team. Martin has maintained a 3.5 grade point average and is currently the USAO all-time career leader in wins and strikeouts.
The Bill and Pat Smith Scholar Athlete Award honors students who excel in their scholastic achievements and athletic talent while studying and competing at USAO. Recipients must earn at least a 3.0 GPA, represent USAO well in all aspects of student life and make a positive contribution to his/her team while observing high standards of sportsmanship.
Regents also approved a variety of curriculum changes. A new minor in philosophy and religious studies was added, along with 11 additional courses in that area. Three of these courses are new; eight replace previous listings. Among the new courses are The Wisdom of Living, which will examine the ways in which theoretical considerations from a range of thinkers can alter one’s diet, relationships, career and purpose in life.
Other curriculum changes include increasing the number of hours for a minor in French or Spanish. Six new French courses will be added; two will be deleted. Six new Spanish courses will be added; four, deleted. In education, three new courses were added to help USAO students meet new certification standards in Oklahoma.
In personnel actions, Regents approved the appointment of three new faculty members. These include Jerome Sanders as assistant professor of physics, who starts in the fall. Sanders earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the College of New Jersey; his master’s in mechanical and aerospace engineering from George Washington University; and his second master’s in physics from the University of Connecticut where he is finishing a doctorate.
Quan Tran is a new assistant professor of mathematics joining the faculty in the fall term. Tran earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s in math. His Ph.D. in mathematics is scheduled for completion this summer, all from the University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Sarah Layman joins the faculty this fall as assistant professor of education. Layman’s degrees are from the University of Oklahoma. Her bachelor’s degree is in elementary education; her master’s and doctorate are in instructional leadership.
Six current faculty members were promoted. These include Dr. Nancy Osborn, now a full professor of physical education. She joined the USAO faculty in 1992 and earned a doctorate from Oklahoma State University.
Dr. Erik Guzik was promoted to associate professor of economics. He joined the faculty in 2006. Guzik earned his doctorate at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Dr. Peter Thomas was promoted to professor of education and science. He joined the faculty in 1997. He earned a doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado.
Dr. Annick Bellemain was promoted to associate professor of foreign language. She earned her doctorate from the University of Utah and joined the USAO faculty in 2006.
Katie Davis was promoted to associate professor of drama. She earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of Mississippi and joined the faculty here in 2006.
Dr. Craig Elder was promoted to associate professor of business management. He joined the USAO faculty in 1997 and later earned his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma.
In addition to their promotions, three faculty members were granted tenure: Dr. Erik Guzik, Dr. Annick Bellemain and Katie Davis.
In other personnel matters, the board approved the resignations of Jon King in security and Vivian Jones in maintenance.
Recognized for dedication in the classroom and on the field are two student athletes: baseball pitcher Caleb Martin of Duncan and soccer player Taylor Smithwick of Oklahoma City, both seniors at the University of Science and Arts. They were honored by the USAO Board of Regents with the Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Award for 2011.