The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College have announced the winners of this year’s Annual Faculty Awards. These awards highlight the excellence and achievement of three faculty members each year. Rio President Dr. Michelle Johnston praised the contributions and expertise of the entire faculty at the Awards Ceremony.
“Rio Grande’s faculty members are a dedicated, supportive, and impressive group. They carry out our mission to provide a high-quality education each and every day as they interact with students in and out of the classroom,” Johnston said. “I am so proud that we take this time to recognize the selfless and talented work of our faculty.”
Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. John Means was selected to receive of the Edwin A. Jones Excellence in Teaching Award. This award is presented to a faculty member who reflects Jones’ outstanding commitment to higher education, community involvement and philanthropy. Each year, the Rio faculty votes for one of their colleagues to receive this honor. Means said he feels this award reflects the dedication all of Rio’s faculty members have to their students and communities.
“I’m truly humbled that my colleagues felt I was deserving of this award. To be placed on the same list with all of the great Rio Grande faculty who have won the award before me is an honor,” Means said. “I’m grateful that Rio presents these awards because it shows how much the faculty and every aspect of our jobs, from teaching and preparing our students for the future to scholarship and community involvement, are highly valued.”
The Excellence in Scholarship Award was presented to Professor of English Dr. Kent Williams. This honor recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates long-term commitment to and makes superior contributions to scholarship in their program or field. The recipient must also demonstrate a record of publications, exhibitions, performances or other forms of scholarship on a regional, national or international level. Williams, who is retiring this summer after 34 years of dedication to student success, said he believes it is important for educators to be active in scholarship in their fields and beyond the classroom.
“I sincerely appreciate receiving this award and the University’s recognizing and celebrating faculty,” Williams said. “All members of our Rio Grande community, however, participate in this ‘community of scholarship,’ sharing connection, knowledge, welcome, and light. I’m thankful to be a part of this community.”
The Ernie Wyant Award for Outstanding Teaching is presented to a faculty member chosen by the students as the most outstanding teacher of the year and encourages academic achievement, helping prepare students to be successful following graduation. This year’s winner for the award, Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Dana Evans, said she believes the award confirms students are receiving quality education in her classroom.
“To me, being chosen for this award by the students means everything. We’re here for the students and to know they believe I should have this award is really special to me,” Evans said. “I was surprised to receive this award. All of the faculty put in a lot of hours, so to have these awards as a recognition of a job well done is nice. It lets you know you are appreciated.”
Dr. Richard Sax, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said he is proud of the winners for their efforts to enhance learning experiences at Rio.
“These three award-winning teachers respectively show a passion for their academic areas and a deep dedication to student success and student learning outcomes,” Sax said. “Students especially, and our entire living-learning community, benefit profoundly from their professional efforts.”
The university and community college congratulate the winners on their success in the classroom and abilities to create a learning environment where students can thrive in their academic journeys.