Faculty, staff recognized at fall convocation

The University of Central Arkansas honored exceptional faculty and staff during 2023 Fall Convocation. 

Faculty excellence awards were presented in the following areas:

Faith Yarberry

Faith Yarberry, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received the Public Service Award. The Public Service Award recognizes individuals whose service contributions to the UCA community, professional community and other communities outside the university have been outstanding. It is expected that individuals will have contributed both within and outside the university. Through service work such as volunteering for charitable organizations, serving on advisory boards, donating professional expertise, serving on committees and conducting outreach programs, these individuals have improved conditions within the community and enhanced the quality of life for all citizens. 

Alicia Cotabish

Alicia Cotabish, Department of Teaching and Learning, received the Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award. The Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award recognizes individuals whose contributions to their disciplines have been exemplary. Through original work in research, scholarship or creative activities (such as performances and artistic productions), they have expanded human knowledge, interpreted the human experience, or enhanced the quality of our lives. 

The finalists for the Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award were Reid Adams and Tamara Haselkorn, Department of Biology. 

Leah Lowe

Leah Lowe, Department of Physical Therapy, received the Teaching Excellence Award. Faculty who have consistently demonstrated exceptional performance in teaching are eligible for the Teaching Excellence Award. Recipients of this award strive to enhance student learning as they continually seek ways to improve their teaching. 

The finalists for the Teaching Excellence Award were Zach Smith, Department of History, and Mary Ruth Stewart, Department of English.

The new Department Chair Leadership Award was announced at convocation. The intent of this award is to recognize one department chair or school director who has exemplified outstanding leadership in their role based on these criteria: demonstration of outstanding leadership, demonstration of curricular innovation, promotion of student success and overall contribution toward achievement of the college or university mission.

The inaugural recipient of this award was Stephanie Watson, chair of the Department of Accounting in the College of Business. Watson was recognized during an academic retreat in July. 

Other awards to outstanding faculty and staff were presented to the following individuals: 

Angela Jackson

Angela Jackson, Division of Student Life, received the Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion and Equity Award. This award recognizes individuals whose commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence on and/or off campus has made a significant impact on various ethnic groups and diverse populations in a positive way. These individuals have improved conditions at UCA and within the community.

Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received the External Funding Impact Award recognizes a faculty or staff member for excellence in obtaining external funding. The award promotes a culture of grant writing among faculty and staff and encourages grant recipients to track the impact of their grant work on individuals, the university, the community and their disciplines or fields of study.

Ken Sobel, Department of Psychology and Counseling, was honored with the Shumaker-Wright Undergraduate Mentorship Award. The University Honors Council created the award in recognition of the importance of supporting undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity. Supporting student participation in mentored research is an important component of the university’s mission. Furthermore, the undergraduate award is named in honor of Conrad Shumaker and Terry Wright, who had each mentored more than 20 undergraduate student capstone/thesis projects at the time of their retirements. The implementation of this mentorship award conveys the campus’s high regard for outstanding contributions made to the academic and research community.

Femina Varghese

Louis Nadelson

Femina Varghese, Department of Psychology and Counseling, received the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award. This award recognizes a person who has demonstrated outstanding success in mentoring graduate students.

Louis Nadelson, Department of Leadership Studies, received the Outstanding Graduate Contributions Award. This award honors a person whose contributions have significantly benefited graduate education on our campus and beyond. 

Jennifer Bell

Amanda Paladino

Other presentations included the classified and non-classified recipients of the Employee of the Year for 2022-23. The classified Employee of the Year is Jennifer Bell, Graduate School graduation coordinator. The nonclassified Employee of the Year is Amanda Paladino, associate registrar. 

Leslie George, program coordinator, and Joe Romig, maintenance specialist, were finalists for the classified Employee of the Year award. 

Nadia Eslinger, BEAR Life program director,  and Angela Jackson, associate dean,  were nonclassified finalists. 

The Employee of the Year is presented to a full-time staff member who has shown extraordinary performance to the university community over the past year. This person is a well-rounded employee who goes above and beyond and truly cares about students, colleagues and UCA. Any full-time staff member, classified or nonclassified, with two or more years of continuous service to the university prior to January 1 of the award year is eligible for this award.

Here are images from the ceremony: