Teaching Academy Inducts Five New FellowsMonday, December 03, 2012
Top, from left: Beth Barton Schweiger, history; David S. McNabb, biological sciences; and Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon, history. Below: Jack Kern, health, human performance and recreation, and Kristofor Brye, crop, soil and environmental sciences.
The University of Arkansas's Teaching Academy will induct five new fellows into its membership at the academy's annual banquet on Monday, Dec. 3. The five new fellows are Kristofor Brye of the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences; Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon of the department of history; Jack Kern of the department of health, human performance and recreation; David S. McNabb of the department of biological sciences; and Beth Barton Schweiger of the department of history.
Kristofor Brye, is professor of applied soil physics and pedology in the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences of the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. In 2008, he was recognized by Gamma Sigma Delta with their Teaching Award of Merit.
He has the reputation of a teacher and mentor who is dedicated to guiding undergraduate and graduate students in their journey to acquire knowledge and develop the skills and confidence to succeed in the applied sciences and in life. Upon departure of a colleague due to retirement, he volunteered to continue teaching Scientific Presentations, a cornerstone communication–intensive course for graduate students in the college. Though classroom teaching is where many teachers make their mark, Brye has developed a unique set of skills that he passes on to his students by taking advantage of the outdoor classroom, which is an uncomfortable place for many due to its unpredictableness and complexity, in the form of his Soil Profile Description course. In this unique course, Brye trains undergraduate students to be soil judgers, who then compete against other institutions in their ability to describe soil morphological characteristics and make landscape and land use interpretations. Brye’s soil judgers are the current, two-time defending regional first place winners with one of his judgers ranking as first-high individual both years.
Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon, is associate professor of history and a Fulbright College master teacher. He is an innovative and rigorous teacher, who demands the best from his students, and they appreciate him for it. He scores highly on student evaluations even though he is understood to be no “easy A.” He teaches a wide range of courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level and has established himself as an excellent mentor. He has published on the art teaching in the most prestigious venues in the academy, including the newsletter (Perspectives) of the American Historical Review, the top national journal in the history business.
Grob-Fitzgibbon also exemplifies excellence in historical writing. He is the author of three books, The Irish Experience during the Second World War: An Oral History (Irish Academic Press, 2004); and Turning Points of the Irish Revolution: The British Government, Intelligence, and the Cost of Indifference, 1912-1921 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), and Imperial Endgame: Britain's Dirty Wars and the End of Empire (Palgrave, 2011). He has also published a number of articles in such journals as The Historian, Terrorism and Political Violence, The Journal of Intelligence History, and British Scholar. He currently serves as director of the International Relations program and is the Cleveland C. Burton professor in international programs.
Jack Kern is an associate professor in the College of Education and Health Professions. He came to the University of Arkansas in 1996 and previously taught at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. He worked in the public schools as a science and physical education instructor for 10 years before pursuing a career in higher education. Kern has authored or co-authored 12 publications and made over 50 presentations at national, regional and state conferences in his academic areas of interest. Kern primarily teaches courses within the teacher education program in the department of health, human performance and recreation. He was selected as the College of Education and Health Professions “Outstanding Advisor” in 2002 and has been recognized as the “Outstanding Teacher” and “Outstanding Faculty Member” in his department.
Kern was selected as the "Higher Educator of the Year" by the Arkansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 2006 and 2009.
David S. McNabb
David S. McNabb is an associate professor of biological sciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. He received the Master Teacher Award from Fulbright College in 2012. He is also vice chair of biological sciences department and the chair of the biology graduate studies program. McNabb is also a member of the National Genetics and Epigenetics grant review panel for the American Heart Association. He is an active member of the American Society for Microbiology, the Genetics Society of America, and the American Chemical Society.
McNabb teaches a sophomore-level cell biology course and a senior-level course in virology. His research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which the opportunistic human pathogen Candida albicans causes disease. He has served as the research adviser for two postdoctoral trainees, nine graduate students and 36 undergraduate students.
Beth Barton Schweiger
Beth Barton Schweiger, an associate professor and Fulbright College master teacher, has exemplified excellence in teaching and mentoring. She reimagined the first-year American history survey as a study of America’s place in the global context and she spearheaded the restructuring of the graduate assistant teaching program in the department. Her students, both graduates and undergraduates, have benefitted by her close mentoring, and several have received national grants to further their research. She teaches courses on the social and cultural history of early America, including American religious history. Her former doctoral students have studied topics ranging from Louisiana creoles to Indians and Africans in the Mississippi Valley during European conquest.
All are tenured or hold tenure-track positions. She is currently directing five Ph.D. and two M.A. students on subjects including Protestants and medicine, Native Americans and print culture, American visual culture, and American sacred music. She is the author of The Gospel Working Up: Progress and the Pulpit in Nineteenth Century Virginia (Oxford, 2000) and co-editor of Religion in the American South (North Carolina, 2004).
As a National Endowment for Humanities Fellow for 2012-13, she is completing The Literate South: Reading Before Emancipation for Yale University Press. She has received fellowships from many institutions, including Yale University, the Huntington Library, the American Antiquarian Society, and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation.
The Teaching Academy is a society committed to excellence in teaching at the University of Arkansas. It was established in 1988 by Dan Ferritor, at that time chancellor of the University of Arkansas.
The Teaching Academy’s mission is to advocate and represent teaching interests, promote and stimulate an environment of teaching and learning excellence, and encourage recognition and reward for exceptional teaching. The Teaching Academy consists of faculty members who have been recognized by their peers, colleges and the university for their excellence in teaching, including excellence in classroom teaching.
Other criteria for being selected to the Academy include a professor’s ability to establish a special rapport with students, to instill in them a love for learning, and to encourage them to go beyond the expectations of the classroom and to explore their disciplines for themselves.
The Teaching Academy logo represents a drop of water falling into a pond creating ripples spreading out in all directions, having an effect which can neither be controlled nor predicted. So it is with the effect of outstanding teaching on our students. For more information on the Teaching Academy, see http://uateach.uark.edu/events/.
Jeannie Whayne, Professor
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