Four professors and one staff member received top honors at Dalton State’s annual Faculty-Staff Service Awards presentation.
The Dalton State Foundation’s Excellence Awards are awarded to Dalton State’s highest performing employees as determined by various selection committees of their peers and students, according to David Elrod, director of the Dalton State Foundation.
“This year’s roster of recipients reinforces yet again that Dalton State is a fantastic place to work, that we have gathered here some of the best and brightest talent anywhere,” Mr.
The winners were: Dr. Marina Smitherman, associate professor of biology, Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching; Dr. James Adams, professor of biology, Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship; Mr. Matthew Hipps, assistant professor of political science, Faculty Award for Excellence in Service; Dr. Raina Rutti, assistant professor of management, Barbara Shiffler ’76 Award for Business Teaching; and Mr. Ronnie Jacobs, custodian of the Westcott Administration Building, Beth Burdick Service Excellence Award.
Dr. Smitherman, winner of the award for teaching, was recognized for “consistently achieving scores in the superior range” on class evaluations from students, according to Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Sandra Stone, who noted that she created several new upper division courses and has been instrumental in developing undergraduate research opportunities.
“Her students have made presentations at professional conferences, and one student was recently selected by the Council on Undergraduate Research to present her work at the prestigious ‘Posters on the Hill’ event in Washington, D.C.,” Dr. Stone said. She noted Dr. Smitherman’s “use of an array of active learner-centered techniques to engage students, including clickers, flipping the classroom, interactive technology, case studies, service learning, and even raps and dances.” According to a colleague, “She is a model for all of us in terms of her dedication to continuous improvement of her classroom experience.”
Dr. Smitherman chartered and advises the Beta Chi Nu chapter of Beta Beta Beta national biology honor society that won the top campus award for a student organization in its first year of existence and provides students with leadership, research, and service learning opportunities, according to Dr. Stone.
She read the comments of a student who cited Dr. Smitherman, saying, “Her enthusiasm in the classroom is spectacular…she literally bounces as she speaks.”
Dr. Smitherman was last year’s recipient of the Dalton State Foundation Faculty Award for Excellence in Service.
Dr. Adams, recipient of the Award for Scholarship and Professional Development, “is internationally known as an expert in his field,” Dr. Stone said. “Over the past couple of decades, he has published 15 works and given 81 presentations at professional meetings, with 26 of those as an invited speaker. He has also served as an academic editor and reviewer for a number of articles and books, and he founded and maintains the Georgia Lepidoptera website.”
Dr. Adams was last year’s recipient of the Dalton State Foundation’s Teaching Excellence Award. His department chair stated, “When I first heard about the Foundation offering an award for faculty development, I immediately thought of Dr. Adams as the most deserving faculty member.”
"As the recipient of the Foundation’s Faculty Award for Service, Mr. Hipps knows what it means to give back to the College and the community," said Dr. Stone. "He has served on 20 college committees, has participated in the Emerging Leaders Institute in Dalton, and was named an American Association of State Colleges and Universities Global Engagement Teaching Fellow in 2012."
According to Dr. Stone, the most demanding college level service project for Mr. Hipps is perhaps directing the campus’s First Year Experience program which provides instruction in skills necessary for academic success to approximately 700-900 freshmen each year.
“He inspires his students, his colleagues, and the community with his passion for his profession and the high standards he sets for himself in service to all these constituencies,” says Mr. Hipps’ department chair.
As the recipient of the Barbara Shiffler ’76 Award for Business Teaching, Dr. Raina Rutti is “truly an innovator in the classroom who uses a variety of student centered activities to enhance student learning,” says Dr. Larry Johnson, dean of the School of Business. Endowed by Dalton State alumna Barbara Shiffler ’76, the award recognizes a faculty member in the School of Business whose teaching brings credit to the School of Business and to the College.
“She is a risk taker and never afraid of trying new teaching methods,” says Dr. Johnson. “She has been an instrumental participant in the innovative classroom methods initiatives on campus and is a regular presenter and organizer for the Center for Academic Excellence events.”
According to Dr. Johnson, “Dr. Rutti is a tireless worker who wishes to serve students, faculty, her profession, and the community. She has a special desire to help youths and young adults, and she gives them that one-on-one attention they need. It is rare that I go by her office and there is not a student in her office, whether they are an advisee or one of her students.”
The 2014 recipient of the Beth Burdick Award for Service Excellence is Mr. Ronnie Jacobs, custodian of the Westcott Administrative Building. The award is named for its first recipient, Beth Burdick, who retired in 2005 after 38 years of service to the College.
“Mr. Jacobs joined the staff of Dalton State six years ago and quickly earned a reputation as a diligent, conscientious worker,” says David Elrod. “Known for his omnipresent smile and concern for others, Mr. Jacobs is the go-to guy among his peers when one of them needs an extra hand.”
“His reputation for keeping things spic-and-span is such that word on campus is that President Schwenn refuses to allow Mr. Jacobs to move to another building,” says Mr. Elrod.
“We are extremely proud of Dr. Smitherman, Dr. Adams, Mr. Hipps, Dr. Rutti, and Mr. Jacobs,” said Dalton State president Dr. John Schwenn. “They are representative of the excellent faculty and staff who bring their best selves to work every day for the benefit of their students, their colleagues, and our College.”