Academic Excellence Award Recipients Announced

News Feature

News & Events

May 1, 2017

More than a dozen faculty will be honored with a 2017 Academic Exellence Award.


As has become a tradition, a top administrator surprises four of the recipients in their classrooms with the announcement that they have earned a presdiential award.


Dr. Karim Ismaili, interim provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, did the honors this year.


The Presidential Award for Distinguished Teaching was presented to Drs. James Pearson and Laura Ramsey. Earning the Presidential Award for Part-time Teaching were Drs. William Langbaurer and Joshua Irizarry.


Each recipient was surprised when Dr. Ismaili arrived at their classroom door unannounced, with Dr. Pamela Russell, interim associate provost, in tow. In sharing their thoughts about receiving a presidential award, the recipients’ dedication to teaching and devotion to their students came through.


“My love of teaching is amplified by the smart and engaged students that I get to work with year after year,” said Dr. Ramsey, who is an assistant professor of psychology. “My pedagogy has really evolved through all of the faculty development opportunities at BSU, and I feel so fortunate that I am at an institution that values teaching and invests in the faculty.”


The criteria for the two presidential awards is mastery of the discipline and/or subject matter, and the demonstration of successful teaching approaches that engage students in interactive learning and that inspire intellectual curiosity.


The Presidential Award for Distinguished Teaching recognizes excellence in teaching at either the undergraduate or graduate levels, and is presented annually to no more than two faculty members who have taught as full-time faculty at the university for at least two years. Each awardee receives a plaque and a check for $5,000.


“I am thrilled to have received this honor,” said Dr. Pearson, who is an assistant professor of philosophy. “It is a highlight of my career! I have found Bridgewater to be an exceptionally rewarding place to teach, and I continue to be impressed by how engaged BSU students are when exploring philosophical questions with each other. In my view, philosophy professors not only have knowledge that they wish to convey, nor only skills – including critical thinking, close reading, and precise writing – that they want to impart, but a desire that they hope to instill: the desire to seek truth. If my students learn to be dissatisfied with received wisdom, hot takes, or cookie-cutter think pieces, and learn to – and learn to want to – develop cogent reasons that justify their own views, then I think that I've done my job well.”


Dr. Pearson plans to use the funding that accompanies the award to continue his recent work, innovating ways to effectively teach critical thinking.


The Presidential Award for Part-time Teaching recognizes excellence in teaching at either the undergraduate or graduate levels and is presented annually to no more than two faculty members who have taught as part-time faculty at the university for at least three of the last six semesters. Each awardee receives a plaque and a check for $2,500.


Dr. Langbauer is an adjunct faculty member who teaches environmental biology. Upon receiving word of the award, he said, “It is always gratifying when others recognize the work you have been doing. I love teaching here – it’s nice to know that the institution values what I am doing. There will likely also be practical benefits. I am applying for external grants to support my research, and any little thing that helps one stand out is useful in the highly competitive grant environment.


Also honored with a 2017 Award for Academic Excellence are: 


The BSU Faculty/Librarian Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Patricia Fanning, Department of Sociology


Class of 1950 Distinguished Faculty Research Award

Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson, Department of English


Dr. V. James DiNardo Award for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Jonghyun Lee, Department of Social Work


Blackboard Innovation Award

Dr. Melanie McNaughton, Department of Communication Studies


Innovative Teaching with Technology Award

Dr. Paula Bishop, Department of Music


Dr. Robert A. Daniel Award for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice:

Supporting the Success of BSU’s Students

Dr. Jennifer Manak, Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education


Presidential Award for Excellence in Collaboration to Improve Teaching

Dr. Jamie Huff, Department of Criminal Justice

Dr. Kim MacInnis, Department of Sociology


Presidential Fellowship Award

Dr. Martin Grossman, Department of Management



For a list of award winners, including the descriptions of the awards and the work and contributions of awardees, please visit by John Winters, G ’11, University News & Media; photos by George Rizer and Ezechiaste Pompilus, ’19)


Professor James Pearson, left, with presenters Drs. Karim Ismaili and Pamela Russell
Professor William Langbaurer
Professor Joshua Irizarry
Professor Laura Ramsey and her students