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Provost Mitchelson (far left) and Henry Hinton (far right) with the recipients of the UNC Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Teaching Award. (Photos by Cliff Hollis) 


Faculty recognized for outstanding teaching

April 20, 2017

By Jamie Smith
ECU News Services

East Carolina University faculty and administrators gathered Thursday, April 20 for the University Teaching Awards to celebrate the accomplishments of their colleagues nominated for excellence in teaching.

Provost Ron Mitchelson welcomed everyone to the event and applauded the efforts of faculty for their commitment to maximizing student success.

"ECU makes good on the promise of opportunity for our students. The people represented here today make that possible," said Mitchelson. "Our students are successful because of your efforts. Tonight we will shine a bright light on great teaching."

The awards recognized faculty for their engagement with students in research, excellence in distance education and exceptional teaching abilities.

The highest honor of the night, the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, was awarded to Patricia "Patch" Clark, a professor in the School of Theatre and Dance in the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

Clark has been at ECU for 23 years and is the founder and director of ECU Storybook Theatre, a program that provides young learners throughout eastern North Carolina the opportunity to experience live theater. She also coordinates the bachelor of fine arts in theater education and theater for youth.

After accepting the award Clark shared photos and examples of how she and her students have taken theater and storytelling to local schools, hospitals, non-profits and military installations.

"I am grateful for public educators who day in and day out show up at school to work with children to help them grow and learn and become leaders of tomorrow," said Clark. 

Professor Patricia “Patch” Clark, UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award winner and founder of ECU’s Storybook Theater, uses a children’s book during her remarks Thursday evening.

In addition to her work in eastern North Carolina, Clark is a strong advocate for reaching beyond the walls of her classroom to the global community and received the Global Partners in Education International Award for Collaboration in 2016 for her efforts.

Clark said technology regularly allows her students to participate in discussions and performances with other students around the world including universities in Egypt and Japan. Clark has traveled with her students to countries, including Japan and Iraq, where they have worked with young children in schools.

"I am thankful for the global classroom - to be able to link around the world and to encourage my students to form a new vision with a global insight as to what's happening in the world at different universities," said Clark.

After listening to Clark's remarks, Mitchelson shared his admiration for her work.

"We're inspired by you. It seems to come easy to you, but we know better," he said.

Clark was selected from a group of eight nominees and will receive a one-time award of $12,500.

Dr. Mario Rey received the ECU Alumni Association Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching.

During the evening several additional awards were presented including the ECU Alumni Association's Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching which was given to Dr. Mario Rey of the School of Music. The Alumni Association also presented its award for Outstanding Teaching to Tommi Overcash Galaska in the School of Theatre and Dance and Patrick Rider from the Department of Kinesiology.

The Max Ray Joyner Award for Outstanding Teaching in Distance Education was presented to Dr. Maureen Ellis in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. Ellis was selected from a group of 10 nominees who have shown a commitment and enthusiasm in teaching and mentoring off-campus students and have demonstrated excellence in the delivery of courses. 

Dr. Maureen Ellis (center) received the Max Ray Joyner Award for Outstanding Teaching in Distance Education and is pictured with (left to right) Mitchelson, Max Joyner and John Stiller.

The Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award was presented to six ECU faculty members. Each received a $1,000 award from the UNC system.

"At ECU, faculty are nominated for these awards by their colleagues in the academic divisions," said Henry Hinton, an ECU alumnus and member of the UNC Board of Governors. "The award is designed to recognize and support excellent teaching."

Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award recipients are as follows:

  • Brian Cavanaugh, Department of Health Education and Promotion
  • Dr. Joy Shepard, Department of Baccalaureate Nursing
  • Dr. Rose Sinicrope, Department of Mathematics, Science and Instructional Technology Education
  • Dr. Richard Taylor, Department of English
  • Dr. Christina Tschida, Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education
  • Dr. Sergiy Vilkomir, Department of Computer Science

Nine faculty members were recognized as 2017 Scholar-Teachers. This award celebrates faculty who engage their students in research and share their own research in their teaching. In the fall the Office for Faculty Excellence will offer sessions from each of the award winners about their work incorporating scholarship in their teaching.
  • Dr. W. Leigh Atherton, Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies
  • Dr. Rebecca Dumlao, School of Communication
  • Dr. Maureen Ellis, Department of Interdisciplinary Professions
  • Dr. Matthew Fish, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • Dr. Stephanie George, Department of Engineering
  • Dr. J. Bradley Karl, Department of Finance
  • Dr. Donna Lake, Department of Advanced Nursing Practice and Education
  • Dr. Nicole Nolan Sidhu, Department of English
  • Dr. Beth Thompson, Department of Biology

"It does us all good to be reminded of what an outstanding faculty and staff we have at ECU and the quality of outstanding work the members of the Pirate Nation are doing in our classrooms, labs, in every aspect of university life," said Mitchelson.


The University Teaching Awards were held Thursday, April 20 at ECU’s Murphy Center.

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