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Awards for Academic Excellence

We are deeply honored to announce this year’s recipients of the Awards for Academic Excellence. These awards recognize faculty and librarians who have made outstanding contributions to teaching, research, scholarship and social justice. The extraordinary work and dedication of these faculty members and librarians contributes to the vibrancy of intellectual life on our campus, the richness of our educational offerings and the success of our students. Their work is an inspiration to all of us.

Award Recipients

Faculty/Librarian Lifetime Achievement Award

This annual award is intended to honor distinction in the full range of faculty and librarian professional roles achieved over the span of an individual’s career at Bridgewater State University.

2022 Recipient
Dr. George Serra
Department of Political Science

Dr. George Serra has contributed substantially to the development of political science and public administration during his 25 years at Bridgewater State. He is an authoritative expert on the impact of casework in the United States House of Representatives with more than 15 peer-reviewed publications in journals such as, The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, and The Journal of Legislative Studies. The Democratic Governance and Leadership Program, which earned national recognition, was founded and led by Dr. Serra for 20 years. He was the first BSU faculty member to receive an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship to serve as a fellow and legislative team member. Dr. Serra’s service to the university community includes multiple firsts, such as the founding chairperson of the Institutional Review Board, the founding campus liaison for The Washington Center Program for Internships and Academic Seminars, and the founding coordinator of the interdisciplinary Civic Education and Community Leadership minor. As a chair for the Department of Political Science, Dr. Serra led undergraduate curriculum reform and accreditation of the Master in Public Administration, including an articulation agreement with Stonehill College for their students to move into the BSU MPA program. Dr. Serra also served as a faculty coordinator of the Mandela Washington Fellows Program. In the classroom, Dr. Serra engages students in research projects and course presentations that bring theory to practice, furthering student understanding of legislative processes and legislative-executive affairs. As a dedicated student mentor, he facilitates internships and assists with graduate school and law school applications. Dr. Serra’s lifetime achievements while at BSU have impacted and changed the institution and students’ education and opportunity.

Class of 1950 Distinguished Faculty Research Award

The Class of 1950 Distinguished Faculty Research Award was created through an endowment established by the class on the occasion of its 50th reunion. This award is presented annually to full-time faculty members or librarians and recognizes two distinct categories of work, published books (monographs, edited volumes, textbooks, etc.) and scholarly papers or creative works, both published or presented during the previous year.

2022 Recipient
Dr. Luzi Shi
Department of Criminal Justice

Dr. Luzi Shi’s peer-reviewed publication, “Crime trend perceptions, negative emotions, and public punitiveness: a survey of information treatment,” published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology, (2021), builds upon prior research on inaccurate crime trend perceptions, negative emotions, public punitiveness, and information treatment. She examined two questions; if crime trend perceptions predict emotions about crime and indirectly predict punitiveness through emotions about crime, and if providing people with accurate crime information reduces negative feelings about crime and subsequently reduces punitiveness. After survey data analysis of a nationwide sample, her data showed that perceptions of rising crime trends were related to punitiveness both directly and indirectly through anger about crime. Exposure to accurate crime information did not alleviate anger about or fear of crime, but, surprisingly, increased support for punitive criminal justice policies. Her study findings highlight the importance of empirically based social decision-making, that is, using intuitive and simple approaches such as exposing the public to crime statistics may be ineffective and even counterproductive.

Presidential Fellowship Award

This highly competitive annual award affords a faculty member the opportunity to focus exclusively on research for an entire academic year. In addition to two semesters of course release time, recipients are granted a budget of up to $10,000 to pay for travel expenses, equipment, books or other related materials. Preference is given to faculty members who have an original proposal for research or creative activity, whose scholarly work is poised for significant growth and who have a carefully designed plan for the use of their release time. Upon completion of the fellowship year, the awardee is expected to present a public lecture or presentation to the campus community.

2022 Recipient
Dr. Ellen Scheible

Department of English

Dr. Ellen Scheible is an ambitious scholar whose published works cover a range of Irish literary and intellectual history. Her stature within the field of Irish Studies is evidenced by invitations to contribute to edited collections and special edition journals. On campus, her commitment is evident in her work as a founding coordinator of BSU’s Irish Studies Program and interdisciplinary minor. From this foundation, Dr. Scheible has proposed to write a monograph, Domestic/Violence: Body, Home, and Nation in Irish Fiction and Film, as her Presidential Fellow project. Her monograph will explore 20th and 21st century texts and films that wrestle with the Irish domestic interior, offering readings on the power and authority of the feminized body in national development. The pretext for the monograph is that Irish filmmakers and writers, particularly poets and novelists, from the late 19th century through the present day have regularly employed the Irish domestic interior and representations of the female body as “Mother Ireland,” forming a metaphorical and biopolitical relationship between Irish femininity, motherhood and the nation. Clemson University Press, the potential publisher, indicates that the book has ‘tremendous promise’ and can ‘contribute to the field impressively.’ It will provide students, faculty, and those that work in Irish Studies and related fields an opportunity to consider the impact of gender oppression on the development of the Irish nation. Dr. Scheible anticipates that the writing process will impact her teaching, her work with the Irish Studies Program, and her connections with potential scholars.

Dr. Robert A. Daniel Award for Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion:
Supporting the Success of Racially Minoritized Students Attending BSU

Bridgewater State University is a nationally recognized leader in student success because of our demonstrated ability to close racial equity gaps in graduation rates (The Education Trust, 2015; The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2021). Despite our commitment, BSU’s Racial Justice Taskforce Report identified additional work is needed to support the success of racially minoritized students enrolled at BSU. Efforts that facilitate academic access, retention and success for racially minoritized students are a critical institutional priority. This award recognizes the efforts and achievements of full-time tenure track/tenured faculty members and librarians who facilitate the success of racially minoritized students. This award carries the name of the late Dr. Robert A. Daniel, an artist and pioneering educator, who was the first African American professor hired at BSU.

2022 Recipient
Professor Tina Mullone
Department of Dance

Professor Tina Mullone describes her pedagogy as encouraging “students to share the most authentic parts of themselves using dance as a form of self-expression.” She strives to make “students feel comfortable sharing their personal experiences, embracing their own cultural identities and living out their values.” At the same time, she introduces students to “artistic dance practices that push beyond the boundary of European aesthetically pleasing dance.” Professor Mullone helps students to view dance as a means of expressing social justice ideals. In reflecting on Professor Mullone’s teaching, curriculum development, creative work, service and advising, a colleague noted that she “is essentially an initiative unto herself that supports the retention/persistence of BSU’s racially minoritized students by sharing in their lives. She does more than her part to diversify and establish a safe campus for the next generation of Black and non-Black students of color and faculty. Her work opens the doors to broad participation and high achievement.”

Presidential Award for Distinguished Teaching

This award recognizes outstanding performance and/or innovation in teaching at either the undergraduate or graduate level. It is presented annually to no more than two Bridgewater State University faculty members who have taught as full-time faculty at the university for at least four years. 

2022 Recipient
Dr. Margaret Black
Department of Computer Science

Dr. Margaret Black teaches computer design, operating systems, and artificial intelligence using interactive approaches, such as live coding within the classroom. Every course is focused on her original creative design projects, such as robots, neural networks, Gameboy emulators and computer games for mobile phones. Her students often create tangible products which have earned them jobs or internships. Dr. Black has constructed a variety of novel courses, such as Embedded Systems, which pairs students with Bartlett College of Science and Mathematics faculty who have a computer design project, and the History of Computing, where students work with computers from the 1950s to 1980s. Her best moments are when she inspires students who respond with “I didn't know that someone like me could actually do that.” Dr. Black has mentored numerous capstone projects, ATP summer students and students engaged in NSF’s International Research Experiences for Students Program. She helped to create the GAANN fellowship, designed for three graduate students to have free tuition in exchange for assistance with classroom instruction. Dr. Black’s scholarship examines computer engineering pedagogy, and her work has been published with student co-authors in the Journal of Computer Sciences in Colleges and presented with student collaborators at research conferences beyond BSU, including international venues.

2022 Recipient
Dr. Inkyoung Kim
Department of Political Science

Dr. Inkyoung Kim’s approach to teaching international relations and comparative politics integrates her identities as a learner, an innovator and an activist. To help students develop independent critical thinking and problem-solving skills, they create their own research questions in her courses and she facilities their work toward answering them and then presenting their findings at the Student Arts and Research Symposium. Dr. Kim used a letter writing assignment to help students learn about expressing their concerns, engaging in conversations with BSU’s decision-makers and highlighting the need for change. She is constantly inspired by students’ comments and questions as they help her to see things in new ways, as much as she helps them to learn and grow. Dr. Kim has encouraged students to make their dreams a reality; she mentored students to compete in the Undergraduate International Policy Competition, recruited students to speak on a panel at the 7th Annual First Gen Summit, supervised Adrian Tinsley Program Summer Grant recipients, mentored Sustainability Program interns, and presented and co-authored scholarly research in collaboration with students. Dr. Kim has published peer reviewed articles and book chapters and is responsible for a community-wide conversation about BSU’s curriculum alignment with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Presidential Award for Distinguished Full-time Temporary Faculty Teaching

This award recognizes excellence in teaching by full-time temporary faculty who have taught as a full-time temporary faculty member at BSU for at least three of the last six years. The award is presented annually to one faculty member, currently serving in a full-time temporary role.

2022 Recipient
Professor Sarah Bedard
Department of Theatre

Professor Sarah Bedard’s objective as a theatre educator is to give students a voice by fostering an environment in which they are heard, both in their art and in their lives. Theatre students learn to look at the world through different lenses, to ask questions and to deeply listen to different perspectives without judgment. If students take those skills into the world, they will be stronger members of society. Professor Bedard has mentored honors students, served on departmental committees and wrote the department’s new mission statement. Her background as a professional actor and role as a theatre show director, has allowed her to share authentic experiences with our students. She introduced students to the Actor’s Equity rules, helping them to understand the rights and the responsibilities of professional actors, staff and crew while respecting their status as students who are still learning. Professor Bedard has advocated for the department to take on rehearsal guidelines that mirror professional standards.

Presidential Award for Distinguished Part-time Teaching

This award recognizes outstanding performance and/or innovation in teaching at either the undergraduate or graduate level. It is presented annually to Bridgewater State University faculty members who have taught as part-time faculty at the university for at least eight of the last twelve years.

2022 Recipient
Professor George Birthisel
Department of Mathematics

Professor George Birthisel sees students thrive when they are pushed to feel challenged while also feeling supported. He structures his courses to blend student accommodations with incentives so that all students have a path to success. To humanize mistakes, Professor Birthisel demonstrates his own vulnerabilities then pivots toward rethinking mistakes as opportunities to learn which reduces barriers to asking questions. He has taught numerous courses, including mathematics readiness and the enhanced sections of college algebra. Professor Birthisel has participated in professional development offerings from the Teaching and Technology Center, the Office of Teaching and Learning and the Part-Time Faculty Program. He has embraced the use of open educational resources (OERs) and developed curriculum around OERs. He also served as one of three faculty technology fellows who worked one-on-one with mathematics faculty that experienced technological challenges in moving their courses online during the complete remote instruction period of COVID.

2022 Recipient
Professor Allison Daubert
Department of Physics, Photonics and Optical Engineering

Professor Allison Daubert states that she does not teach physics; she teaches people. Her approach is to engage students in learning physics by doing physics. Professor Daubert emphasizes that hard work, not natural ability, makes people successful scientists. Observation of her classes indicate that she knows every student and something about them, solicits student interaction well, responds to the wrong answer with the right question, and really understands what causes a misunderstanding of physics and how to have students do things that cause actual deep learning. Professor Daubert has developed courses for the department, including one for future high school physics teachers, and a women in science course which highlighted the contributions of women and under-represented minorities through storytelling. She also collaborated with full-time faculty on successful grant writing and is a major contributor to the department’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance Team supported by the American Physical Society.

2022 Recipient
Dr. Lara Watkins
Department of Anthropology

Dr. Lara Watkins teaches from the perspective that everyone in a course is a learner, including herself. Learning, for both students and professors, hinges on critical and integrative thinking, responsibility, accountability and reflection. To promote lifelong learning for her students, Dr. Watkins’ courses incorporate meta-cognitive strategies, guest speakers, one-to-one meetings and research projects or fieldwork experiences. Upon observation of her class, Dr. Watkins’ department chair indicates that she is “always seeking ways to advance inclusivity in the classroom while teaching difficult topics that elicit challenging conversations.” She aspires to help students discover something of long-term personal relevance through the study of anthropology. Dr. Watkins also engages in her own professional development, such as Safe Zone training, the Teaching Race faculty book club, and the Teacher Scholar Institute. She has advised College of Continuing Studies students, mentored undergraduate research, and presented at BSU’s Office of Teaching and Learning Conferences.

Dr. V. James DiNardo Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Bridgewater Alumni Association established this award in 1984 in honor of Dr. V. James DiNardo, executive vice president and professor emeritus. The award is presented to a full-time faculty member whose contributions include mastery of subject matter, enthusiastic teaching style and personal attention to students.

2022 Recipient
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
Department of English

Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson emulates the teacher scholar model and practices an Indigenous pedagogy that is collaborative and transparent. She teaches supported sections of first year writing and has created and taught Native American Writing and Rhetoric and Native Women Writers. Her classrooms engage students in doing, creating documentaries, corn-husk dolls and physical manifestations of family memories and traditions. Dr. Anderson is a nationally recognized scholar in Indigenous rhetorics. She is the co-editor of the award-winning collection Survivance, Sovereignty, and Story: Teaching American Indian Rhetorics (Utah State Press, 2015) which received an honorable mention from a national conference for best book of scholarship. Her record of publication makes her a much sought-after speaker on the topics of Indigenous rhetorics and Indigenous and decolonial pedagogies. With her Presidential Fellowship Award of 2015-2016, Dr. Anderson solidified the nearly five years of institutional connection to Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Her work with Red Cloud “exemplifies how what she researches as a scholar is made real in the world as a teacher and as a trainer of other teachers.” Recently, Dr. Anderson planned and hosted a virtual Plymouth 400 conference which brought national and international attention to BSU while addressing the “complicated, tragic, legacy that continues to inform our relationship with Indigenous populations around the world.” “She believes deeply in the power of stories to make real a theory of justice, to move it from the realm of ideas to work in the world.”

Presidential Award for Excellence in Collaboration to Improve Teaching

This award recognizes innovation in the development of teaching programs that meet well documented need(s) and have significant impact. Examples include, but are not limited to, collaborative teaching assignments, faculty, librarian and staff collaboration projects, teaching innovations specific to faculty development programs, curriculum development and/or revision, improvement in the quality of teaching through assessment or other means and new academic program initiatives.

2022 Recipients
Dr. Angela Bailey, Department of Health and Kinesiology
Dr. Maura Rosenthal, Department of Health and Kinesiology

In the Department of Health and Kinesiology, 29% of the students identify as BIPOC and the majority are enrolled in Health Studies and Public Health. BIPOC students, once enrolled in higher education, often experience poorer outcomes compared to white students. Yet, engagement in high-impact practices, such as community-based learning, provides educational benefits and fosters social connection. To address social justice and social connection for these health students, Drs. Angela Bailey and Maura Rosenthal built upon existing connections with Girls, Inc. of Taunton, a nationally affiliated youth enrichment program serving an at-risk diverse population of girls ages 5-18 years, and the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice (MRISJ). Drs. Bailey and Rosenthal were awarded a MRISJ mini grant to create and deliver a team-taught community learning opportunity to connect students in Dr. Rosenthal’s Social Justice in Physical Education course with students in Dr. Bailey’s Health Promotion Strategies course. BSU students led health studies, public health or physical education programming activities during the Girls, Inc. after school program. Activities addressed relevant health issues in Bristol County, the social determinants of health, and the importance of movement and games. Twenty-four students participated, 41% were students of color, and 75% were experiencing community-based learning for the first time. Assessment indicated that students were prompted to think of new options for their futures, especially options that impacted the lives of others. Students also felt socially connected to each other and to the faculty.

Innovations in Teaching with Technology Award

The Innovations in Teaching with Technology Award focuses on technology innovations in teaching by full-time, full-time temporary or part-time faculty in their face-to-face, online and HyFlex courses.

2022 Recipient
Dr. Christina Hodel
Department of Communication Studies

Dr. Christina Hodel, a screenwriter and award-winning filmmaker, teaches filmmaking and film studies. Recently, she adopted a variety of innovative teaching methods and technologies to motivate her students, engage them in building new skills, and facilitate their success in her online and face-to-face courses. In her Race, Class and Gender in Media course, Dr. Hodel used Invision, an online whiteboard tool, to collaboratively develop “The Wisdom Wall.” At the end of the semester, students in the course posted topics on the wall that they wished they had known about before their course began. By doing so, they shared their new wisdom with the incoming students. In The Films of Steven Spielberg course, Dr. Hodel developed video micro-lectures, with BSU’s Screencast-o-Matic, to guide students through challenging topics. In the Introduction to Film course, students developed TikTok videos that highlighted their knowledge of new topics. She also gamified her lectures by providing each student with a buzzer for their desk and presenting a lecture with intentional errors. Students buzzed in when they discovered an error. She found them eager to complete their assigned readings before class in preparation for the upcoming competition. 

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